The News You May Have Missed: January-February 2024
A Paraguayan government official was removed after it was revealed that he signed a memorandum of understanding seeking diplomatic relations with a country that does not exist (Fox News, Nov. 30). Arnaldo Chamorro was dismissed from his job as chief of staff of Paraguay’s Agriculture Ministry after he signed a “proclamation” that expressed, among other things, “support [for] the admission of the United States of Kailasa as a sovereign and independent state in various international organizations, including, among others, the United Nations.” Though Chamorro later admitted he didn’t know where Kailasa was located, he said he signed the document because the officials offered to help Paraguay with a variety of issues, including irrigation. The fictional country describes itself on its website as the “revival of the ancient enlightened Hindu civilizational nation which is being revived by displaced Hindus from around the world.” It is led by Nithyananda, a self-styled guru who is wanted in India on several charges, including sexual assault. This isn’t the first time Kailasa representatives duped international leaders. In February they managed to participate in a UN committee meeting in Geneva, where they signed agreements with leaders from the U.S. and Canada.
A Cure Worse than the Disease
A self-professed alternative healer has been charged in the death of a British grandmother at a “slapping therapy” workshop (New York Post, Dec. 1). Danielle Carr-Gomm, 71, was found dead after undergoing paida lajin as treatment for her Type 1 diabetes. Paida lajin is a “holistic” Chinese method in which patients are slapped or slap themselves repeatedly, supposedly to draw out blood toxins, or sha. The session was run by Hongchi Xiao, 60, founder of the Pailala Institute in California and author of Heal Yourself Naturally Now. Carr-Gomm blogged about her decision to attend the $951 week-long course, the second she would attend. After the first session, which took place in Bulgaria, “large areas of my body were bruised blue which indicated that a lot of ‘sha’ or poisoned blood and toxins had been released,” she wrote. Before Carr-Gomm died, Australian authorities had questioned Xiao regarding the death of a seven-year-old diabetic boy in Sydney. The slapping method has been criticized for having no scientific basis — despite Xiao’s claim that it can treat everything from body pains and cancer to Alzheimer’s and paralysis.
Mortuary of the Macabre
The owners of a Colorado funeral home were arrested after nearly 200 decaying corpses were found at their facility (National Public Radio, Nov. 8). Police first searched Return to Nature Funeral Home in Penrose, which offers green and natural burial services, after receiving a report of an “abhorrent smell” coming from the building. What they found inside was “horrific,” said Fremont County Sheriff Allen Cooper. Though the probable-cause affidavit has been sealed, District Attorney Michael Allen said what it contains is “absolutely shocking.” Some relatives of those whose remains were sent there for cremation believe they were given fake ashes composed of dry concrete. The investigation has included both state and federal bureaus of investigation, three county coroners’ offices, the state emergency management agency, and state and local police agencies. Some of the investigators came from an FBI team that has been dispatched to mass casualty events like 9/11 and airline crashes. Owners Jon and Carie Hallford face four felony charges, including abuse of a corpse, theft, money laundering, and forgery.
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