May 22, 2013 Day 123 of the Fifth Year - History

May 22, 2013 Day 123 of the Fifth Year - History

President Barack Obama receives the Presidential Daily Briefing in the Oval Office, May 22, 2013. Pictured, from left, are: Jake Sullivan, National Security Advisor to the Vice President; Lisa Monaco, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism; Robert Cardillo, Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Intelligence Integration; and Tony Blinken, Deputy National Security Advisor.

30 Cool Facts about Mount St. Helens

1&mdashDuring the past 4,000 years, Mount St. Helens has erupted more frequently than any other volcano in the Cascade Range.
2&mdashMost of Mount St. Helens is younger than 3,000 years old (younger than the pyramids of Egypt).
3&mdashSome Native American names that refer to smoke at the volcano include&mdash Lawala Clough, Low-We- Lat-Klah, Low-We-Not- Thlat, Loowit, Loo-wit, Loo-wit Lat-kla, and Louwala-Clough.
4&mdash3,600 years ago&mdashNative Americans abandoned hunting grounds devastated by an enormous eruption four times larger than the May 18, 1980 eruption.
5&mdash1792&mdashCaptain George Vancouver named the volcano for Britain&rsquos ambassador to Spain, Alleyne Fitzherbert, also known as Baron St. Helens.
6&mdash1975&mdashU.S. Geological Survey geologists forecasted that Mount St. Helens would erupt again, &ldquopossibly before the end of the century.&rdquo
7&mdashMarch 20, 1980&mdashA magnitude 4.2 earthquake signaled the reawakening of the volcano after 123 years.
8&mdashSpring 1980&mdashRising magma pushed the volcano&rsquos north flank outward 5 feet per day.
9&mdashMorning of May 18, 1980&mdash The largest terrestrial landslide in recorded history reduced the summit by 1,300 feet and triggered a lateral blast.
10&mdashWithin 3 minutes, the lateral blast, traveling at more than 300 miles per hour, blew down and scorched 230 square miles of forest.
11&mdashWithin 15 minutes, a vertical plume of volcanic ash rose over 80,000 feet.
12&mdashAfternoon of May 18, 1980&mdashThe dense ash cloud turned daylight into darkness in eastern Washington, causing streetlights to turn on in Yakima and Ritzville.
13&mdashThe volcanic ash cloud drifted east across the United States in 3 days and encircled Earth in 15 days.
14&mdashLahars (volcanic mudflows) filled rivers with rocks, sand, and mud, damaging 27 bridges and 200 homes and forcing 31 ships to remain in ports upstream.
15&mdashThe May 18, 1980 eruption was the most economically destructive volcanic event in U.S. history.
16&mdashSmall plants and trees beneath winter snow, and roots protected by soil, survived the May 18, 1980 eruption and now thrive.
17&mdashThousands of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and millions of hatchery fingerlings perished in the eruption.
18&mdashLate May 1980&mdashWind-dispersed spiders and scavenging beetles were among the first animals to return to the Mount St. Helens area.
19&mdashThe landscape devastated by the eruption has evolved into a rich and diverse habitat for plants and animals.
20&mdashEffects of the May 18, 1980 eruption continue today. Biologists help wild salmon and steelhead by giving them a tank-truck ride to the pristine, clear creeks above sediment-choked rivers.
21&mdashLate spring through fall 1980&mdashExplosive eruptions on May 25, June 12, July 22, August 7, and October 16&ndash18 rocked Mount St. Helens and sent ash to distant communities.
22&mdash1982&mdashMount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument was established for all to observe both the awesome destruction and the remarkable recovery of plants and animals.
23&mdashOctober 1980 to 1986&mdash Over the course of 17 episodes, lava eruptions began filling the crater, building a lava dome that reached 876 feet above the crater floor.
24&mdashSince 1986, snow and rock accumulating in the deep, shaded crater formed Crater Glacier, the youngest glacier on Earth.
25&mdashSeptember 2004&mdashMount St. Helens reawakened, and it erupted continuously until January 2008.
26&mdashOctober 2004 to January 2008&mdashGrowing lava domes displaced and then divided Crater Glacier into east and west lobes. The ice lobes moved downslope as fast as 6 feet per day, converging below the lava dome a little more than three years later.
27&mdashDuring the 2004 to 2008 eruptions&mdashMount St. Helens settled one half inch due to magma withdrawal beneath the volcano.
28&mdashThe Global Positioning System (GPS) instrument that detected the settling of Mount St. Helens can detect movement of as little as 1/16 of an inch and uses less power than a refrigerator lightbulb.
29&mdashDuring the 1980 to 1986 and the 2004 to 2008 eruptions&mdashLava oozed onto the crater floor, building domes taller than the Empire State Building and restoring 7 percent of the volume lost in 1980.
30&mdashMount St. Helens remains a world-famous natural laboratory for the study of Earth&rsquos processes and also nature&rsquos response to catastrophe.

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Cascades Volcano Observatory
U.S. Geological Survey
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Vancouver, WA 98683-9589

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Suggested citation:

Driedger, Carolyn, Westby, Liz, Faust, Lisa, Frenzen, Peter, Bennett, Jeanne, and Clynne, Michael, 2010, 30 Cool Facts about Mount St. Helens: U.S. Geological Survey General Information Product 103 (poster).

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Evaluation and Diagnosis of Wrist Pain: A Case-Based Approach

This is a corrected version of the article that appeared in print.

RAMSEY SHEHAB, MD, Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, Michigan

MARK H. MIRABELLI, MD, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, New York

Am Fam Physician. 2013 Apr 1587(8):568-573.

Article Sections

Patients with wrist pain commonly present with an acute injury or spontaneous onset of pain without a definite traumatic event. A fall onto an outstretched hand can lead to a scaphoid fracture, which is the most commonly fractured carpal bone. Conventional radiography alone can miss up to 30 percent of scaphoid fractures. Specialized views (e.g., posteroanterior in ulnar deviation, pronated oblique) and repeat radiography in 10 to 14 days can improve sensitivity for scaphoid fractures. If a suspected scaphoid fracture cannot be confirmed with plain radiography, a bone scan or magnetic resonance imaging can be used. Subacute or chronic wrist pain usually develops gradually with or without a prior traumatic event. In these cases, the differential diagnosis is wide and includes tendinopathy and nerve entrapment. Overuse of the muscles of the forearm and wrist may lead to tendinopathy. Radial pain involving mostly the first extensor compartment is commonly de Quervain tenosynovitis. The diagnosis is based on history and examination findings of a positive Finkelstein test and a negative grind test. Nerve entrapment at the wrist presents with pain and also with sensory and sometimes motor symptoms. In ulnar neuropathies of the wrist, the typical presentation is wrist discomfort with sensory changes in the fourth and fifth digits. Activities that involve repetitive or prolonged wrist extension, such as cycling, karate, and baseball (specifically catchers), may increase the risk of ulnar neuropathy. Electrodiagnostic tests identify the area of nerve entrapment and the extent of the pathology.

Musculoskeletal problems are responsible for up to 20 percent of all visits to primary care offices in the United States.1 Family physicians are often the first to evaluate and treat wrist pain. Wrist pain is traditionally classified as acute pain caused by a specific injury or as subacute/chronic pain not caused by a traumatic event (Tables 1 and 2) . Injuries that cause acute pain may result in contusions, fractures, ligament sprains or tears, and instability. Subacute or chronic pain may result from overuse, have neurologic or systemic causes, or be a sequela from an old injury. Patients with these injuries may have a history of repetitive wrist movement, either occupationally or recreationally. The addition of sensory disturbances, such as numbness or tingling, points to nerve involvement.


Anatomic snuffbox swelling, scaphoid tubercle tenderness, and pain with axial pressure on the first metacarpal bone are sensitive but not specific tests for diagnosing scaphoid fractures.

If plain radiography results are negative in a suspected scaphoid fracture, then the wrist should be protected in a thumb spica cast with repeat plain radiography in 10 to 14 days or a bone scan one to two days after injury.

The Finkelstein test has good sensitivity and specificity for diagnosing de Quervain tenosynovitis.

A = consistent, good-quality patient-oriented evidence B = inconsistent or limited-quality patient-oriented evidence C = consensus, disease-oriented evidence, usual practice, expert opinion, or case series. For information about the SORT evidence rating system, go to .


Anatomic snuffbox swelling, scaphoid tubercle tenderness, and pain with axial pressure on the first metacarpal bone are sensitive but not specific tests for diagnosing scaphoid fractures.

If plain radiography results are negative in a suspected scaphoid fracture, then the wrist should be protected in a thumb spica cast with repeat plain radiography in 10 to 14 days or a bone scan one to two days after injury.

The Finkelstein test has good sensitivity and specificity for diagnosing de Quervain tenosynovitis.


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Samsung, South Korean company that is one of the world’s largest producers of electronic devices. Samsung specializes in the production of a wide variety of consumer and industry electronics, including appliances, digital media devices, semiconductors, memory chips, and integrated systems. It has become one of the most-recognizable names in technology and produces about a fifth of South Korea’s total exports.

Samsung was founded as a grocery trading store on March 1, 1938, by Lee Byung-Chull. He started his business in Taegu, Korea, trading noodles and other goods produced in and around the city and exporting them to China and its provinces. After the Korean War, Lee expanded his business into textiles and opened the largest woolen mill in Korea. He focused heavily on industrialization with the goal of helping his country redevelop itself after the war. During that period his business benefited from the new protectionist policies adopted by the Korean government, whose aim was to help large domestic conglomerates (chaebol) by shielding them from competition and providing them easy financing.

During the 1970s the company expanded its textile-manufacturing processes to cover the full line of production—from raw materials all the way to the end product—to better compete in the textile industry. New subsidiaries such as Samsung Heavy Industries, Samsung Shipbuilding, and Samsung Precision Company (Samsung Techwin) were established. Also, during the same period, the company started to invest in the heavy, chemical, and petrochemical industries, providing the company a promising growth path.

Samsung first entered the electronics industry in 1969 with several electronics-focused divisions—their first products were black-and-white televisions. During the 1970s the company began to export home electronics products overseas. At that time Samsung was already a major manufacturer in Korea, and it had acquired a 50 percent stake in Korea Semiconductor.

The late 1970s and early ’80s witnessed the rapid expansion of Samsung’s technology businesses. Separate semiconductor and electronics branches were established, and in 1978 an aerospace division was created. Samsung Data Systems (now Samsung SDS) was established in 1985 to serve businesses’ growing need for systems development. That helped Samsung quickly become a leader in information technology services. Samsung also created two research and development institutes that broadened the company’s technology line into electronics, semiconductors, high-polymer chemicals, genetic engineering tools, telecommunications, aerospace, and nanotechnology.

In the 1990s Samsung continued its expansion into the global electronics markets. Despite its success those years also brought about corporate scandals that afflicted the company, including multiple bribery cases and patent-infringement suits. Nevertheless, the company continued to make advancements on the technology and product-quality fronts, with a number of its technology products—ranging from semiconductors to computer-monitor and LCD screens—climbing into top-five positions in global market share.

The 2000s witnessed the birth of Samsung’s Galaxy smartphone series, which quickly not only became the company’s most-praised product but also frequently topped annual lists of the best-selling smartphones in the world. Since 2006, the company has been the top-selling global manufacturer of televisions. Beginning in 2010, the Galaxy series expanded to tablet computers with the introduction of the Galaxy Tab.

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Countries that allow same-sex marriage

Alphabetical list of countries

    (2010) (2017) (2019) (2003) (2013) (2005) (2016) (2020) (2012) (2019) (2013) (2015) (2013) (2017) (2015) (2010) (2015) (2014) (2017) (2000) (2013) (2019) (2008) (2010) (2014) (2006) (2005) (2009) (2019) (2015) (2013)

Costa Rica (2020)

In May 2020, Costa Rica became the first Central American country to legalize same-sex marriage. The country’s highest court in 2018 ruled that the nation’s law banning same-sex marriage was unconstitutional and said the ban would be nullified in 18 months unless the legislature acted before then, which it did not.

Northern Ireland (2019)

In October 2019, same-sex marriage became legal in Northern Ireland. Although Northern Island is a constituent of the United Kingdom, with its own parliament at Stormont, the change in its marriage laws ultimately came about due to action by the UK’s Parliament in London. British lawmakers justified the change (which was accompanied by the legalization of abortion) because the Northern Irish parliament was suspended in January 2017 due to a stalemate between Northern Ireland’s parties.

Northern Ireland had been the last part of the UK where same-sex marriage was banned England and Wales moved to allow gay and lesbian couples to wed in 2013 and Scotland followed in 2014 (see below).

Ecuador (2019)

On June 12, Ecuador’s Constitutional Court ruled that that same-sex couples have a right to marry. The decision, which went into effect immediately, makes the Andean mountain nation the fifth country in Latin America to allow gays and lesbians to wed.

Taiwan (2019)

On May 17, 2019, Taiwan’s legislature passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage and making the island nation the first country in Asia to permit gays and lesbians to wed. The vote in Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan (the official name of Taiwan’s unicameral parliament) was prompted by a 2017 decision by the country’s Constitutional Court, which struck down a law defining marriage as being between a man and woman. The court gave the nation’s legislature until May 24, 2019, to change Taiwan’s marriage laws to accommodate same-sex couples.

Austria (2019)

On Jan. 1, 2019, Austria joined the vast majority of Western European countries in legalizing same-sex marriage. The country had granted gay and lesbian couples the right to enter into a civil partnership in 2010. But in 2017, Austria’s highest court ruled that these partnerships are inherently discriminatory. The court also ruled that, unless the country’s legislature passed a law to the contrary, gays and lesbians should be allowed to wed by Jan. 1, 2019. Austria’s legislature did not act to counter the ruling, leading to the first same-sex weddings at the beginning of 2019.

Australia (2017)

On Dec. 7, 2017, the Australian Parliament passed legislation allowing gay and lesbian couples to legally wed. Passage came just three weeks after Australians voted in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage, by a 62% to 38% margin, in a non-binding, nationwide referendum. Along with New Zealand, Australia became the second country in the Asia-Pacific region to make same-sex marriage legal.

Malta’s parliament almost unanimously voted to legalize same-sex marriage in July 2017, despite opposition from the Catholic Church on the small Mediterranean island.

Germany (2017)

On June 30, 2017, Germany became the 15th European country to enact legislation allowing same-sex couples to wed. The 393-226 vote in the nation’s Bundestag (or Parliament) came just days after Chancellor Angela Merkel surprised many by saying that members of her ruling Christian Democratic Union should be able to vote their conscience on the issue even though the party formally opposes same-sex marriage.

Colombia (2016)

On April 28, 2016, Colombia became the fourth country in Catholic-majority South America to legalize same-sex marriage, following Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil. The country’s Constitutional Court, by a 6-3 vote, ruled that that “all people are free to choose independently to start a family in keeping with their sexual orientation … receiving equal treatment under the constitution and the law,” according to the wire service Agence France-Presse.

United States (2015)

Eleven years after same-sex marriage was first made legal in Massachusetts, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution guarantees it throughout the country. The 5-4 decision rests in part on the court’s interpretation of the 14th Amendment, and states that limiting marriage only to heterosexual couples violates the amendment’s guarantee of equal protection under the law. Before the ruling, 36 states and the District of Columbia had legalized same-sex marriage. See a timeline highlighting changes in state policies from 1995-2015.

Greenland (2015)

Greenland, an autonomous territory of Denmark, was not subject to Denmark’s same-sex marriage law, which was enacted in 2012. However, legislators in Greenland passed a bill in May 2015 to legalize same-sex marriage on the world’s biggest island.

Ireland (2015)

On May 22, 2015, Catholic-majority Ireland became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage through a popular referendum. More than six-in-ten Irish voters (62%) voted “yes” to amend the Constitution of Ireland to say that “marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.”

While some Catholic Church leaders opposed the change, Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin wrote a commentary in The Irish Times newspaper before the referendum, saying that he would not tell people how to vote and that he had “no wish to stuff my religious views down other people’s throats.” Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny supported the “yes” campaign.

Finland (2015)

Same-sex marriage became legal in Finland starting in 2017. The Finnish Parliament approved a bill legalizing same-sex unions in November 2014, and Finland’s president, Sauli Niinistö, signed the measure into law in February 2015. The bill started out as a “citizens’ initiative” – a public petition with a reported 167,000 signatures.

Finland becomes the last of the five Nordic countries to legalize same-sex marriage, joining Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.

Luxembourg (2014)

On June 18, Luxembourg’s parliament, the Chamber of Deputies, overwhelmingly approved legislation to allow gay and lesbian couples to wed and to adopt children. The bill, which took effect in early 2015, was championed by the country’s prime minister, Xavier Bettel, who is openly gay.

The changes are part of a larger rewrite of the tiny country’s marriage laws – the first major overhaul since 1804. In addition to allowing same-sex couples to marry and adopt, the legislation sets the legal age of marriage at 18 and eliminates the existing requirement that couples who want to marry must first submit to a medical exam.

Scotland (2014)

On Feb. 4, 2014, the Scottish Parliament voted overwhelmingly to approve legislation legalizing same-sex marriage. In addition to allowing same-sex couples to wed, the measure gives churches and other religious groups the option of deciding whether or not they want to conduct such marriages. The two largest churches in Scotland – the Church of Scotland and the Roman Catholic Church – oppose same-sex marriage and lobbied against the bill.

The law took effect and same-sex couples began marrying in Scotland in December 2014.

England and Wales (2013)

On July 17, 2013, Queen Elizabeth II gave her “royal assent” to a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in England and Wales. The day before, the measure had won final passage in the British Parliament after months of debate. The law only applies to England and Wales because Scotland and Northern Ireland are semi-autonomous and have separate legislative bodies to decide many domestic issues, including the definition of marriage. While Northern Ireland’s legislature in April 2014 voted down a measure that would have legalized same-sex marriage, the Scottish Parliament passed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in February 2014.

The new law in England and Wales, which was a priority for British Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader David Cameron, allowed gay and lesbian couples to marry beginning March 29, 2014. However, the law prohibits same-sex weddings within the Church of England, which continues to define marriage as between one man and one woman.

Brazil (2013)

On May 14, 2013, Brazil’s National Council of Justice ruled that same-sex couples should not be denied marriage licenses, allowing same-sex marriages to begin nationwide. (Previously, about half of Brazil’s 27 jurisdictions had allowed same-sex marriage.)

The conservative Social Christian Party has appealed the Council of Justice’s decision to the Supreme Court, and Brazil’s legislature may still weigh in on the issue, leaving some uncertainty surrounding the future of same-sex marriage in the world’s fifth-largest country.

France (2013)

On May 18, French President Francois Hollande signed into law a measure legalizing same-sex marriage, making France the 14th country to grant gays and lesbians the right to wed. Although the bill had passed the National Assembly and the Senate in April, Hollande’s signature had to wait until a court challenge brought by the conservative opposition party, the UMP, was resolved. On May 17, France’s highest court, the Constitutional Council, ruled that the bill was constitutional.

In May 2012, Hollande was elected and his Socialist Party won majorities in both houses of France’s legislature. True to their campaign promises, Hollande and the Socialists have pushed through a law that not only legalizes same-sex marriage but also gives gay and lesbian couples the right to adopt children—a provision that has drawn especially strong criticism from French Catholic leaders.

While recent polls show that a majority of French adults support the law, opposition to the change has been intense. Since the beginning of 2013, several anti-gay marriage protests with occasionally volatile crowds numbering in the hundreds of thousands have taken place in Paris and elsewhere.

New Zealand (2013)

On April 17, the New Zealand Parliament gave final approval to a measure that legalizes same-sex marriage, making the Pacific island nation the 13th country in the world and the first in the Asia-Pacific region to allow gays and lesbians to wed. The measure won approval by a 77-44 margin in the country’s unicameral legislature, including support from Prime Minister John Key, and was signed by the country’s governor-general (a process known as royal assent) on April 19. The law took effect in August 2013.

In 2005, New Zealand enacted legislation allowing same-sex couples to enter into civil unions. The 2013 measure not only legalizes same-sex marriage but also allows for gay and lesbian couples to adopt children.

Uruguay (2013)

On April 10, the lower house of Uruguay’s Congress passed legislation legalizing same-sex marriage, a week after the country’s Senate did so. President José Mujica signed the bill into law on May 3, making Uruguay the second Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage, following Argentina. Civil unions have been permitted in Uruguay since 2008, and gay and lesbian couples were given adoption rights in 2009.

Uruguay is among the most secular countries in Latin America. A Pew Research Center study on the global religious landscape as of 2010 found that roughly four-in-ten Uruguayans are unaffiliated with a particular religion. About 58 percent of Uruguayans are Christian in the Latin America-Caribbean region as a whole, 90 percent of the population is Christian.

Denmark (2012)

In June 2012, Denmark’s legislature passed a bill legalizing gay marriage. The measure was enacted into law a few days later when Queen Margrethe II gave her royal assent to the bill.

In 1989, Denmark became the first country to allow same-sex couples to register as domestic partners. And in 2010, the country enacted a law allowing gay couples in registered partnerships the right to adopt children.

With the legalization of gay marriage, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark (which is the state church), is required to allow same-sex couples to marry in churches. However, no member of the church’s clergy is required to perform the wedding of a gay or lesbian couple. In addition, the law leaves it up to other religious groups to determine whether or not to allow same-sex weddings in its churches.

Argentina (2010)

In July 2010, Argentina became the first country in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage. In spite of vigorous opposition from the Catholic Church and evangelical Protestant churches, the measure passed both houses of the Argentine legislature and was signed into law by President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. The law grants same-sex couples who marry all the rights and responsibilities enjoyed by heterosexual couples, including the right to adopt children.

In the decade before the enactment of the same-sex marriage law, a number of local jurisdictions, including the nation’s capital, Buenos Aires, had enacted laws allowing gays and lesbians to enter into civil unions.

Portugal (2010)

In June 2010, Portugal became the eighth country to legalize same-sex marriage. Its parliament had passed the measure legalizing gay marriage earlier in 2010. But following its passage, Portugal’s president, Anibal Cavaco Silva, asked the Constitutional Court to review the measure. In April 2010, the Constitutional Court declared the law to be constitutionally valid. It was signed by Silva in May of that year and took effect one month later. Portugal’s gay marriage law does not give married same-sex couples the right to adopt children.

Iceland (2010)

A measure legalizing same-sex marriage passed the Icelandic legislature in June 2010. Public opinion polls prior to the vote indicated broad support for the measure, and no members of the country’s legislature voted against it. Iceland had allowed same-sex couples to register as domestic partners since 1996. A decade later, the parliament passed a measure allowing gay couples to adopt children.

After the new law took effect in late June 2010, the country’s prime minister, Johanna Sigurdardottir, wed her longtime partner, Jonina Leosdottir, becoming one of the first people to marry under the statute.

Sweden (2009)

In April 2009, the Swedish parliament voted by an overwhelming majority to legalize same-sex marriage. Gay couples in Sweden had been allowed to register for civil unions since 1995.

The 2009 law allows gays and lesbians to marry in both religious and civil ceremonies, but it does not require clergy to officiate at such ceremonies. The Lutheran-affiliated Church of Sweden, to which roughly three-quarters of all Swedes belong, has offered blessings for same-sex partnerships since January 2007. In October 2009, the church’s governing board voted to allow its clergy to officiate at same-sex marriage ceremonies.

Norway (2008)

Since January 2009, gay couples in Norway legally have been able to marry, adopt children and undergo artificial insemination. The new law, which was passed in 2008, replaced a 1993 law permitting civil unions. It passed despite resistance from members of the Christian Democratic Party and the Progress Party, as well as a public controversy over state funding for fertility treatments for lesbian couples.

The largest religious group in the country, the Lutheran-affiliated Church of Norway, initially voted to prohibit its pastors from conducting same-sex weddings. But the Church of Norway changed course and began sanctioning same-sex weddings in early 2017.

South Africa (2006)

The South African parliament legalized same-sex marriage in November 2006, one year after the country’s highest court ruled that the previous marriage laws violated the South African constitution’s guarantee of equal rights. The new law allows for religious institutions and civil officers to refuse to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies, a provision that critics claim violates the rights of same-sex couples under the constitution.

The new measure passed by a margin of greater than five-to-one, with support coming from both the governing African National Congress as well as the main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance. However, the traditional monarch of the Zulu people, who account for about one-fifth of the country’s population, maintains that homosexuality is morally wrong.

A closely divided Spanish parliament legalized same-sex marriage in 2005, guaranteeing identical rights to all married couples regardless of sexual orientation. The new measure added language to the existing marriage statute, which now reads, “Marriage will have the same requirements and results when the two people entering into the contract are of the same sex or of different sexes.”

Vatican officials, as well as the Catholic Spanish Bishops Conference, strongly criticized the law, and large crowds demonstrated in Madrid for and against the measure. After the law went into effect, the country’s constitutional court rejected challenges from two municipal court judges who had refused marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The high court ruled that the lower court judges lacked legal standing to bring the suits.

Canada (2005)

Same-sex couples in Canada gained most of the legal benefits of marriage in 1999 when the federal and provincial governments extended common law marriages to gay and lesbian couples. Through a series of court cases beginning in 2003, same-sex marriage gradually became legal in nine of the country’s 13 provinces and territories. In 2005, the Canadian Parliament passed legislation making same-sex marriage legal nationwide. In 2006, lawmakers defeated an effort by the ruling Conservative Party of Canada to reconsider the issue, leaving the law unchanged.

Belgium (2003)

Beginning in 1998, the Belgian parliament offered limited rights to same-sex couples through registered partnerships. Same-sex couples could register with a city clerk and formally assume joint responsibility for a household. Five years later, in January 2003, the Belgian parliament legalized same-sex marriage, giving gay and lesbian couples the same tax and inheritance rights as heterosexual couples.

Support for the law came from both the Flemish-speaking North and the French-speaking South, and the law generated surprisingly little controversy across the country. The long-dominant Christian Democratic Party, traditionally allied with the Catholic Church, was out of power when the parliament passed the measure.

The 2003 law allowed the marriages of Belgian same-sex couples and recognized as married those from other countries where same-sex marriage was legal. Those provisions were broadened in 2004 to allow any same-sex couple to marry as long as one member of the couple had lived in Belgium for at least three months. In 2006, the parliament also granted same-sex partners the right to adopt children.

The Netherlands (2000)

In December 2000, the Netherlands became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage when the Dutch parliament passed, by a three-to-one margin, a landmark bill allowing the practice. The legislation gave same-sex couples the right to marry, divorce and adopt children. The legislation altered a single sentence in the existing civil marriage statute, which now reads, “A marriage can be contracted by two people of different or the same sex.”

The only opposition in parliament came from the Christian Democratic Party, which at the time was not part of the governing coalition. After the law went into effect, the Protestant Church in the Netherlands, which then represented about 12% of the country’s population, announced that individual congregations could decide whether to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies. Although Muslim and conservative Christian groups continue to oppose the law, same-sex marriage is widely accepted by the Dutch public.

May 22, 2013 Day 123 of the Fifth Year - History

In the light of birds the lunatic wakes from uncountable sleeps
His burning electric wires begin to glow
Birds sing in every forest of flesh and blood
The lunatic's fingers turn into strings in the outer silence

The darkness of half-asleep awareness roars through
The lunatic's widening arteries, it's another kind of
Waking-- and even total sleep is a frightening fire
It's compelled to burst out even while being awake.

Ours is the romance of ironies
That thrives on virtual volumes
Glide thou away from my skies
Like the desert mirage does

Preferring detachment to attachment
Ask thou to bury our dreams in oblivion
Vanish thee with the words
" Remember me less as you love me"

A pathetic tale of the sea I will unfold,
Enough to make one's blood run cold
Concerning four fishermen cast adrift in a dory.
As I've been told I'll relate the story.
T'was on the 8th April on the afternoon of that day
That the village of Louisburg was thrown into a wild state or dismay,

And the villagers flew to the beach in a state of wild uproar
And in a dory they found four men were cast ashore.
Then the villagers, in surprise assembled about the dory,
And they found that the bottom of the boat was gory
Then their hearts were seized with sudden dread,
when they discovered that two of the men were dead.

And the two survivors were exhausted from exposure, hunger, and cold,
Which used the spectators to shudder when them they did behold
And with hunger the poor men couldn't stand on their feet,
They felt so weakly on their legs for want of meat.

They were carried to a boarding-house without delay,
But those that were looking on were stricken with dismay,
When the remains of James and Angus McDonald were found in the boat,
Likewise three pieces or flesh in a pool or blood afloat.

Angus McDonald's right arm was missing from the elbow,
and the throat was cut in a sickening manner which filled the villagers hearts with woe,
Especially when they saw two pieces of flesh had been cut from each thigh,
'Twas then the kind-hearted villagers did murmur and sigh.

Angus McDonald must have felt the pangs of hunger before he did try

I want to paint
2000 dead birds crucified on a background of night
Thoughts that lie too deep for tears
Thoughts that lie too deep for queers
Thoughts that move at 186,000 miles/second
The Entry of Christ into Liverpool in 1966
The installation of Roger McGough in the Chair of Poetry at Oxford
Francis Bacon making the President's Speech at the Royal Academy dinner

Mayan End Age 12-21-2012 heralds a New Age of spiritual enlightenment

Mayan Calender &ldquoBoth the Hopis and Mayans recognize that we are approaching the end of a World Age. In both cases, however, the Hopi and Mayan elders do not prophesy that everything will come to an end. Rather, this is a time of transition from one World Age into another. The message they give concerns our making a choice of how we enter the future ahead. Our moving through with either resistance or acceptance will determine whether the transition will happen with cataclysmic changes or gradual peace and tranquility. The same theme can be found reflected in the prophecies of many other Native American visionaries from Black Elk to Sun Bear.&rdquo&mdash Joseph Robert Jochmans

&ldquoAn Apocalypse (Greek: 'lifting of the veil' or 'revelation') is a disclosure of something hidden from the majority of mankind in an era dominated by falsehood and misconception, i.e. the veil to be lifted.&rdquo&mdash Wikipedia

Was the Paraclete (Shakti) sent 1923-2011 or millennia ago to teach, didasko (14:26), remind, hypomimnesko (14:26), testify, martyro (15:26), prove wrong, elencho (16:8), guide into truth, hodego (16:13), speak, laleo (16:13), and declare, anangello (16:13, 14, 15) the full and complete message of Jesus, and empower believers&mdashwho receive (lambano), see (theoreo), and know (ginosko) Her&mdashto resurrect themselves and others?

&ldquoThe 2012 phenomenon was a range of eschatological beliefs that cataclysmic or transformative events would occur around 21 December 2012.[1][2][3][4][5][6] This date was regarded as the end-date of a 5,126-year-long cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar,[7] and as such, Mayan festivities to commemorate the date took place on 21 December 2012 in the countries that were part of the Mayan empire (Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador), with main events at Chichen Itzá in Mexico, and Tikal in Guatemala.[8][9][10]

Various astronomical alignments and numerological formulae were proposed as pertaining to this date, all unequivocally rejected by mainstream scholarship. A New Age interpretation held that the date marked the start of a period during which Earth and its inhabitants would undergo a positive physical or spiritual transformation, and that 21 December 2012 would mark the beginning of a new era.[11]"

Wikipedia (Retrieved. February 27, 2013)
1. Robert K. Sitler (February 2006).&rdquoThe 2012 Phenomenon: New Age Appropriation of an Ancient Mayan Calendar.&rdquo Novo Religio: the Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions (Berkeley: University of California Press)
2. Sacha Defesche (2007).&rdquo'The 2012 Phenomenon': A historical and typological approach to a modern apocalyptic mythology.&rdquo skepsis. Retrieved 29 April 2011.
3. G. Jeffrey MacDonald (27 March 2007).&rdquoDoes Maya calendar predict 2012 apocalypse?.&rdquo USA Today. Retrieved 14 October 2009.
4. Hoopes 2011a
5. Hoopes 2011c
6. Hoopes 2011d
7. &ldquo2012 Maya Calendar Mystery and Math, Surviving Yucatan.&rdquo Retrieved 25 December 2012.
8. &ldquo Miles llegan a Chichen Itzá con la esperanza de una nueva era mejor [Thousands arrive to Chichen Itzá with the hope of a new better era]" (in Spanish). La Nación (Costa Rica). Agence France-Presse. 21 December 2012. Retrieved 22 December 2012.
9. Randal C. Archibold (21 December 2012).&rdquoAs Doomsday Flops, Rites in Ruins of Mayan Empire.&rdquo The New York Times. Retrieved 22 December 2012.
10. Mark Stephenson (2012).&rdquoEnd Of The World 2012? Not Just Yet.&rdquo Huffington Post. Retrieved 22 December 2012.
11. Benjamin Anastas (1 July 2007).&rdquoThe Final Days" (reproduced online, at KSU). The New York Times Magazine (New York: The New York Times Company): Section 6, p. 48. Retrieved 18 May 2009.

The Final Days

&ldquoLight and darkness &mdash heavenly forces and a corrupted earth &mdash are the twin engines of - apocalyptic movements. For Christians awaiting rapture or Shiites counting the days until the Twelfth Imam appears, the trials and injustices of the known world are a prelude for the paradise that we can imagine but can't yet achieve. Judging by the sheer number of predicted end dates that have come and gone without the trumpets blowing and angels rushing in, we are a people impatient to see our world redeemed through catastrophe &mdash and we are always wrong. Gnostics predicted the imminent arrival of God's kingdom as early as the first century Christians in Europe attacked pagan territories in the north to prepare for the end of the world at the first millennium the Shakers believed the world would end in 1792 there was a "Great Disappointment" among followers of the Baptist preacher William Miller when Jesus did not return to upstate New York on Oct. 22, 1844. The Jehovah's Witnesses have been especially prodigious with prophetic end dates: 1914, 1915, 1918, 1920, 1925, 1941, 1975 and 1994. Any religious movement with an end-time prophecy is certain to attract followers, no matter how maniacal or fringy (witness the Branch Davidians). For those who want to go online and get the latest tally of bad news, there is a nuclear Doomsday Clock and the Rapture Index. If you remember living through Y2K, that was another millenarian moment &mdash except our computer systems were redeemed by the same code writers who corrupted them in the first place.

Who dreams of the apocalypse? Why do they dream of it? Polls indicate that up to 50 percent of Americans believe that the Book of Revelation is a true, prophetic document, meaning they fully expect the predictions of "Rapture," "Tribulation" and "Armageddon" to be fulfilled. There is a paradox built into end-time theologies in that imminent catastrophe often brings comfort according to Paul S. Boyer, an authority on prophecy belief in American culture and an emeritus professor of history at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, the apocalypse is an appealing idea because it promises salvation to a select group &mdash all of whom share secret knowledge &mdash and a world redeemed and delivered from evil. "The Utopian dream is a big part of the Western tradition," Boyer told me, "both the religious and secular forms. But the wicked have to be destroyed and evil has to be overcome for the era of righteousness to dawn.&rdquo This is as true in the New Age as much as in any other one. Rumors of global crisis, the distrust of institutional authority, the ready availability of esoteric lore, the existence of individuals drawn to abstruse numerical schemes, the urge to assuage anxieties with dreams of social transformation &mdash wherever these elements exist, apocalyptic thinking is likely to flourish.&rdquo

New York Times, July 1, 2007

Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi &ldquoI bow to all the seekers of truth. I came to San Diego long time back and I'm very happy to come back here. When we talk of truth we have to understand that truth is not what we understand through our mental projections. Mostly the mental projections give us illusions. There is no reality behind them. Truth is an experience of the central nervous system. For example if this is cold I can feel it, it is cold. Even if a child touches this, it can feel it, it is cold. If it is hot we can feel it on central nervous system, that it is hot. In the same way the truth is to be known on central nervous system, not through mental projections. While we live on mental projections some people come and talk about truth, we think he is the man standing on truth. He represents truth. Somebody talks about compassion - we believe he's very compassionate he's very peaceful. But compassion does not speak, it is silent, it acts, it works.

So one has to understand that to get to truth, to get to reality one has to cross the barrier of mental activity. Unless and until you understand this simple point, is going to be difficult to give Realization to people. This is the basic trouble in the western countries that they think that they can conceive truth through their mental projections and that's why they have many types of truths. So how do we achieve it? How do we conceive it? What is the way? How did we become human beings from amoeba? Scientists must ask this question: "How did we become and why did we become? What was the purpose? Why the nature works so hard to make us human beings? Is there any purpose of our life? We have not achieved our purpose. Is something in transition still.&rdquo

THE MOTHER: Messiah-Paraclete-Ruh-Devi
Public Program 1 in San Diego 1985: Mental Projections give us Illusions&mdashMay 29, 1985

&ldquoAll was predicted by the mathematical cycles of the Mayan calendars. It will change, everything will change. Mayan Day-keepers view the Dec. 21, 2012 date as a rebirth, the start of the World of the Fifth Sun. It will be the start of a new era resulting from and signified by the solar meridian crossing the galactic equator and the Earth aligning itself with the center of the galaxy.

At sunrise on December 21, 2012 for the first time in 26,000 years the Sun rises to conjunct the intersection of the Milky Way and the plane of the ecliptic. This cosmic cross is considered to be an embodiment of the Sacred Tree, The Tree of Life , a tree remembered in all the world's spiritual traditions.&rdquo

Carlos Barrios, Mayan elder
(Retrieved. February 22, 2013)

&ldquoBIG SUR, Calif. &mdash At twilight, not far from a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, a Mayan shaman spoke of the return of Kukulkan to dozens of listeners sitting on the floor inside a yurt: As Venus, a planet of special significance to the ancient Mayans, passed directly between the Sun and Earth in June, the forces out there were heralding the return of Kukulkan, the snake deity, and the start of a new age of spiritual enlightenment in 2012.

'The cosmos is talking to us &mdash we need to listen,' said the shaman, Miguel Angel Vergara. 'Kukulkan shines in the infinite. Kukulkan is the sacred energy beating in every atom. Kukulkan is the feathered serpent living in your heart forever.'"

New York Times (August 19, 2012)

'You get the sense that the end of the world is a commercial project,' Mikhail Degtyaryov told the newspaper Izvestiya. 'Just look at how many swindlers are trying to make money on this affair, starting from the pseudo-magicians, ending with people selling groceries and other rations.'"

New York Times (December 1, 2012)

Apocalypse is a disclosure of something hidden from the majority of mankind in an era dominated by falsehood and misconception, i.e. the veil to be lifted.&rdquo (Wikipedia) The word is derived from the Greek apokalupsis, a term applied to revelation or disclosure, to certain privileged persons, of what already exists, though hitherto it has been hidden, or only imperfectly known.

&ldquoThe Spirit/Paraclete will bring the past to memory, but the Spirit/Paraclete will be the voice of the glorified Jesus teaching in new situations in the present. However, this new teaching will be anchored in the Jesus of the past, because the Spirit/Paraclete will be speaking anew on behalf of Jesus. It is this claim of access to new teaching that has become problematic within the Johannine communities.&rdquo (Rush 2009, 23)

&ldquoIn the Thomas gospel, Jesus is presented as a spiritual guide whose words (when properly understood) bring eternal life (Saying 1). Readers of these sayings are advised to continue seeking until they find what will enable them to become rulers of their own lives (Saying 2) and thus to know themselves (Saying 3) and their legacy of being the children of 'the living Father' (Saying 3). These goals are presented in the image of 'entering the Kingdom' by the methodology of insight that goes beyond duality. (Saying 22). The Gospel of Thomas shows little or no concern for orthodox religious concepts and doctrines.

The Gospel of Thomas emphasizes direct and unmediated experience. In Thomas saying 108, Jesus says, 'Whoever drinks from my mouth will become as I am I myself shall become that person, and the hidden things will be revealed to him.' Furthermore, salvation is personal and found through spiritual (psychological) introspection. In Thomas saying 70, Jesus says, 'If you bring forth what is within you, what you have will save you. If you do not bring it forth, what you do not have within you will kill you.' As such, this form of salvation is idiosyncratic and without literal explanation unless read from a psychological perspective related to Self vs. ego. In Thomas saying 3, Jesus says,

. the Kingdom of God is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living Father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty, and it is you who are that poverty."

Wikipedia (Retrieved 2011 Apr 24)

Definitions of unmediated
"1. [adj] - without the interposition of other agencies or conditions
Quotes - Example use of the word unmediated
1. unmediated relations between God and man"

"unmediated - having no intervening persons, agents, conditions"

"not mediated : not communicated or transformed by an intervening agency"


&ldquoAlthough many movies and books claim to show what the Mayan's predict will happen in 2012, the ancient Maya say surprisingly little about what will actually occur at the end of the calendar. In this guide, we will look at the katun prophecies and what they reveal.

The Mayan Prophecy in a Nutshell

There are two sides to this coin. On the one hand, we're going through a difficult time leading into 2012. These difficulties are the result of our own disharmony of spirit. Governments and religions will let us down . (continue)


&ldquoWould that he might return from the west, uniting us in commiseration over our present unhappy plight! This is the fulfilment of the prophecies of Katun 5 Ahua. . God grant that there may come a Deliverer from our afflictions, who will answer our prayers in Katun 1 Ahua!!
Chilam Balam of Tizimin

The prophecy of the return of a Supreme Teacher or Being speaks of Quetzalcoat, known to the Maya as Kukulcan. However, there is a growing belief that this . (continue)

4. "Adi Shakti is the great Mother . to start the Golden Age in this incarnation her name is Sri Mataji Nirmala Devi.&rdquo

&ldquoThe Adi Shakti is the great Mother. She also incarnates, either in her own right (as Sri Durga 1000 years ago) or in one of her many aspects. She has incarnated, for instance, in her Mother aspect as The Mother of Christ (Mary) * in her wife aspect as Sri Sita in the case of Sri Rama and Sri Radha, the wife of Sri Krishna. She was the sister (Nanaki) of the . Guru Nanak. Today her most complete incarnation is living on the earth to start the Golden Age in this incarnation her name is Sri Mataji Nirmala Devi. (ibid.)

The Advent also elaborates on the different ways in which Sri Mataji . (continue)

5. The Paraclete (Kukulkan/Quetzalcoatl) and the "mass Kundalini awakening that brings about global self-realizations for humanity.&rdquo

Mar 21, 1923&mdashFeb 23, 2011
Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi was
Christian by birth, Hindu by
marriage, and Paraclete by duty.
"The Paraclete represents direct,
intimate divine intervention,
supporting and teaching
believers and challenging the
world, as Jesus did.&rdquo "The
Paraclete cannot be received by
the world (14:17), as Jesus
himself was rejected (5:43 12:48
15:18-20). The world which does
not know the Paraclete (14:17)
did not know Jesus (16:13).&rdquo
Daniel B. Stevick, Jesus and His
, 2011, pp. 290 & 292

&ldquoRudolf Bultmann . calls the coming of the Redeemer ( Paraclete ) an 'eschatological event,' 'the turning-point of the ages'.&rdquo &mdash George Eldon Ladd

&ldquoThe reaction of the world to the Paraclete will be much the same as the world's reaction was to Jesus.&rdquo &mdash Berard L. Marthaler

&ldquoBut She&mdashthe Spirit, the Paraclete . &mdashwill teach you everything.&rdquo &mdash Danny Mahar

&ldquoThe functions of the Paraclete spelled out in verses 13-15. are all acts of open and bold speaking in the highest degree.&rdquo &mdash David Fleer

&ldquoThey will be privileged to know the Paraclete , as they have known Jesus (14:7, 9, 17). The Spirit will be within the disciples and will remain with them.&rdquo &mdash Robert Creech

The Paraclete's "Appearance means that sin, righteousness, and judgment will be revealed.&rdquo &mdash Georg Strecker

&ldquoBecause of the presence of the Paraclete in the life of the believer . (continue)

6. "The kundalini is the essence of the Goddess. The Goddess is the source, and the force, of life everyone has the feminine within, and must embrace it, then release it, in order to achieve liberation.&rdquo

&ldquoIn the medieval period, there is an ultimate feminine guru represented in a classical text: the Goddess. It is she, not a wife or a saint, who assumes the public role of teacher and is capable of teaching all of humankind, which is the perspective advanced in the Devi Gita. the culmination of earlier stories of the Goddess found in the puranic mythological stories and in early tantric texts, precisely because the Devi Gita raises the Goddess to the level of Supreme Ruler. In the Devi Gita, supreme cosmic power is unambiguously female: she is a beautiful goddess, her power is the feminine shakti, and she is not linked to a male god . (continue)

7. Temple of Kukulkan (Serpent God or Kundalini)

&ldquoQuetzalcoatl taught the ancients all the necessary skills to advance their civilization, from mathematics and science to agriculture and astronomy, as well as the famous Mayan calendrical formulae which predicts the end of the world to be to be December 21st 2012. He taught the people to live in peace and then moved on disappearing . continue )

8. "Great serpent Mound may be viewed as a golden thread running through all the great religious systems of the world and potentially functioning as a key to their secrets"&mdash Ross Mamilton

The Serpent Mound
(Aerial photo)
&ldquoThe Great Serpent Mound has been classified with a large collection of North American prehistoric earthen mounds extending from the East Coast to the Mississippi and beyond. This particular work, however, is distinguished from the countless other mounds and earthen structures throughout the eastern United States in that its design can be dated to a period about 5,000 years ago. Only Watson Brake, a group of mounds in Louisiana discovered in the last decade of the twentieth century, can rival its antiquity. But to my knowledge, nothing in the Americas compares with the Serpent Mound in terms of the precise astronomic, arithmetic . ( continue )

9. "The Coiled Serpent is brought back down to her original home at the base of the spine, recreating a new body experienced by the practitioner as divine"

&ldquoPhysical embodiment, accordingly, is seen as a prime opportunity for spiritual growth, rather than as an unfortunate predicament requiring withdrawal from, or at least indifference to, the material and sensual realm.

Such an approach to spiritual development is epitomized in the famous Tantric discipline of the Serpentine Yoga (Kundalini Yoga), which utilizes the practitioner's own body as the prime vehicle for liberation. By concentrating and directing the cosmic and liberating energies that are manifestations of the Coiled Serpent Goddess (Kundalini) within . ( continue )

10. "She is the universal, cosmic energy known as Sakti, and the psychophysical, guiding force designated as the Kundalini (Serpent Power) resident within each individual"

The Devi Gita, or Song of the Goddess, presents a grand vision of the universe created, pervaded, and protected by a supremely powerful, all-knowing, and wholly compassionate divine female. She is Mahadevi or the Great Goddess, known to her most devoted followers as the auspicious Mother-of-the-World (jagad-ambika, jagan-matr). Unlike the ferocious and horrific Hindu goddesses such as Kali and Durga, the World-Mother of the Devi Gita is benign and beautiful, though some of her lesser manifestations may take on terrifying forms. And unlike other beneficent divinities such as Parvati and Laksmi, she is subject to no male consort . ( continue )

11. Predictions about the Spiritual Mother

In a book published in 1887 titled "The Mystery of the Ages" by Marie, Countess of Caithness (Page 316-317) the following prediction appears:-"It was generally considered, at the turn of the next century, that the next Divine incarnation was about to come to earth and would be female, the advent of Divine Wisdom, or Theo-Sophia, and that the present age would be the age of making known all that which has been kept secret from the beginning.&rdquo

This is an extract from the Nadigranth compiled by Mr Shantaram Athvale. The Nadigranth was originally written . continue )

12. Horoscope of Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi&mdashby Lalit Bhandari
(given during Tour of Australia&mdash22 October 1991 )

The Paraclete Shri Mataji Shri Ganeshaya Namah, I seek the blessings of Lord Shri Ganesha.

While making the comparative study and analysis of horoscopes of different Divine personalities a very pleasant and astounding observation has been made. This study has been described in great detail with specific analysis of the horoscope of Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi. The Divine personalities studied are Lord Krishna, Lord Buddha, Lord Christ, Prophet Mohammed, Guru Nanak Dev, Shri Chaitanya Maha-Prabhu, Adi Shankarancharya and Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi. The data on the horoscopes for all others is taken . ( continue )

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Countries with the most vacation days

The red-tiled rooftops of Lisbon, Portugal's capital, spill to the banks of the Tagus River where it flows into the Atlantic Ocean. Portugese receive a great deal of vacation time. (Photo: Veronica Stoddart, USA TODAY)

Story Highlights

  • By law, every EU country has at least 4 weeks of paid vacation
  • Italy, France, Spain and Germany - 4 largest Eurozone economies - crack top 7
  • According to experts, paid vacation and holidays don't seem to have much macroeconomic effect

The United States is the only developed country in the world without a single legally required paid vacation day or holiday. By law, every country in the European Union has at least four work weeks of paid vacation.

Austria, which guarantees workers the most time off, has a legal minimum of 22 paid vacation days and 13 paid holidays each year. The average private sector U.S. worker receives 16 paid vacation days and holidays. One in four Americans does not have a single paid day off. Based on a report released by the Center for Economic Policy and Research (CEPR), 24/7 Wall St. identified the countries where workers get at least 30 days off a year.

Several nations providing workers with a great deal of time off can afford to be generous. Germany, where the economy remains strong, had an unemployment rate of just 5.5% in 2012. Similarly, New Zealand's unemployment rate was just 6.9% last year. Both are well below the 8.0% Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) unemployment rate, as well as the 8.1% rate in the United States.

Still, some nations giving workers a generous combination of paid, legally-protected vacation days and holidays currently are struggling economically. France, Italy, Portugal and Spain each had an unemployment rate in excess of 10% last year. Spain's unemployment rate of 25.1% was the worst among the 34 OECD member nations. The gross domestic product (GDP) of three of these four nations shrank in 2012, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In France, GDP rose by just 0.03%.

Because time-off is time not spent productively working, it would seem to be an expense that countries with struggling economies cannot afford. To make matters worse, "workers who have vacation and paid holidays also tend to have much higher levels of other benefits such as health insurance and retirement plans," said John Schmitt, senior economist at Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR). Of the eight nations requiring workers receive 30 days off a year, only New Zealand's government spent proportionally less than the U.S.'s 40.3% of GDP, while four nations spent more than 50% of GDP.

But experts consulted by 24/7 Wall St. expressed doubt that the overall effect of extra time off on the economy is negative. Schmitt told 24/7 Wall St. "paid vacation and holidays don't appear to have any meaningful impact on macroeconomic outcomes." Pascal Marianna, a labor markets statistician at the OECD, noted that France and Germany had a similar number of vacation days, but very different economies. While Germany's economy continues to do well, France is mired in a recession.

Because the United States is the second-most productive developed country as measured by GDP per capita and has no mandatory vacation time, some might argue that vacation reduces productivity. However, in another measure of labor productivity — GDP per hour worked — the U.S. was only marginally better than Germany and France, both developed countries that guarantee among the most vacation time. Of course, it is worth noting that the average U.S. employee also clocks 20% more hours per worker than those in Germany or France.

While CEPR and others argue that an economy's productivity can be improved by awarding more vacation, not all countries see it as worthwhile. Portugal, for one, decided to eliminate four of its national holidays beginning in 2013 as part of its most recent austerity measures.

To determine the countries where workers get the most time off, 24/7 Wall St. relied on figures from CEPR's study "No-Vacation Nation Revisited." To account for the fact that holidays in many nations are determined at a regional level and are based on the number of days worked, the organization standardized both paid vacation days and paid holidays awarded to workers. We also considered figures published by the OECD for 2012 unemployment and both hours worked and labor productivity in 2011. IMF figures, most for 2012, on real GDP growth, GDP per capita (adjusted for purchasing power parity), and both debt and government spending as a percentage of GDP were used also.

These are the countries where workers get the most time off.

8. New Zealand
> Days off per year: 30 (tied for 6th highest)
> Annual hours worked: 1,762 hours
> Labor productivity: $34.10 per hour
> GDP per capita: $29,730
> Unemployment rate, 2012: 6.9%

New Zealand is the only OECD nation outside of continental Europe that requires workers receive at least 30 work days of paid vacation and holidays, combined. According to New Zealand's Holidays Act, workers who work during a national holiday must be paid one-and-a-half times their normal pay. Currently, the nation's economy is fairly strong. Based on IMF projections, the country's GDP is expected to rise faster than nearly all other developed countries in the next several years.

7. Italy
> Days off per year: 30 (tied for 6th highest)
> Annual hours worked: 1,774 hours
> Labor productivity: $46.60 per hour
> GDP per capita: $30,136
> Unemployment rate, 2012: 10.7%

Workers in Italy are entitled to the EU mandated four weeks of vacation, equal to 20 vacation days, each year. In addition, Italy has 10 national paid holidays. Workers receive extra pay even when these holidays are not on workdays. Former Prime Minister Mario Monti had passed reforms in recent years to improve the Italian job market, which he noted was composed of overprotected older workers and young workers unable to find a job. These reforms were intended to allow Italian companies to cut jobs as needed, while also discouraging businesses from misusing temporary contracts as a way to avoid hiring workers full time. However, in the most recent election, Monti was resoundingly voted out of power. In 2012, the unemployment rate in Italy was 10.7%, one of the highest among the nations analyzed by CEPR.

6. Belgium
> Days off per year: 30 (tied for 6th highest)
> Annual hours worked: 1,577 hours
> Labor productivity: $59.50 per hour
> GDP per capita: $37,883
> Unemployment rate, 2012: 7.6%

Workers in Belgium get 20 vacation days and 10 public holidays per year. However, they cannot use vacation time until they have worked for their employer for at least one year. A day off is guaranteed for each of the 10 public holidays, and if workers are needed for one of those holidays, they must be given another day off within the week. Belgian workers are nearly as productive as American workers, at $59.50 per hour versus $60.20 per hour, respectively. However, growth in Belgium has stalled, and GDP shrank by 0.2% in 2012. The IMF estimated that government spending totaled nearly 55% of GDP in 2012 and has recommended that Belgium cut government expenses and push through broad labor reforms.

5. France
> Days off per year: 31
> Annual hours worked: 1,476 hours
> Labor productivity: $57.70 per hour
> GDP per capita: $35,548
> Unemployment rate, 2012: 10.3%

France has just one public holiday for which workers are guaranteed a paid day off every year — International Workers Day on May 1. However, France also allows its workers to take off 30 days a year. These vacation days begin to accrue as soon as an employee is hired. Despite these policies, the country has shown it is willing to ask workers to sacrifice for the nation's economic well-being. Recently, France passed labor reforms that make it easier for businesses to cut jobs while also boosting benefits for contracted workers. The French are highly productive workforce, generating $57.70 per hour in value, versus $60.20 per hour in the United States as of 2011. Still, the IMF has stated France's reforms do not go far enough, and that the nation will have to continue enacting more labor reforms as well as cut both taxes and government spending.

4. Spain
> Days off per year: 34 (tied for 3rd highest)
> Annual hours worked: 1,685 hours
> Labor productivity: $47.50 per hour
> GDP per capita: $30,557
> Unemployment rate, 2012: 25.1%

In addition to 12 national holidays, workers in Spain receive, at a minimum, 22 vacation days per year. And through collective bargaining, this figure may be even higher in some workplaces. However, while employers in Spain are required by law to give employees a total of over one month off a year, a large portion of Spanish workers cannot even find jobs. According to the OECD, Spain's unemployment rate in 2012 was 25.1%, higher than any other member country. As part of its broader reforms enacted in 2012 to close its deficit, Spain capped severance pay to reduce firing costs and passed new rules that would limit collective bargaining for wages. Some advocates have pushed for further reform, with the Bank of Spain advocating for the temporary elimination of the country's minimum wage.

3. Germany
> Days off per year: 34 (tied for 3rd highest)
> Annual hours worked: 1,406 hours
> Labor productivity: $55.80 per hour
> GDP per capita: $30,028
> Unemployment rate, 2012: 5.5%

Germany has just one national public holiday for which all workers receive a day off, German Unity Day, celebrated on October 3. In addition, there are between nine to 13 paid holidays, in addition to the 24 paid vacation days. Unlike many other eurozone nations, Germany has fairly low unemployment, with just 5.5% of workers out of a job as of 2012. Different explanations have been put forward to explain the "German jobs miracle," including a lack of raises, more skilled labor force, reforms that made Germany's employment agency more productive and the popularization of "minijobs" — which give workers a 450 euro paycheck for up to 15 hours a week in work.

2. Portugal
> Days off per year: 35 (tied for the highest)
> Annual hours worked: 1,711 hours
> Labor productivity: $32.40 per hour
> GDP per capita: $23,385
> Unemployment rate, 2012: 15.9%

Portugal requires that every worker receives 22 vacation days each year. In addition to this, CEPR notes that Portugal has 13 public holidays every year. Typically, employees are required to give workers a day off on these holidays, or to be compensated with either another day off or double their daily wage. However, starting this year, Portugal will suspend four of it holidays for five years as part of the nation's greater economic austerity movement. In 2012, the nation's economy shrank by 3.2%, worse than any other nation reviewed except Greece. Between 2008 and 2012, Portugal's debt skyrocketed from 71.6% of GDP to 123%.

1. Austria
> Days off per year: 35 (tied for the highest)
> Annual hours worked: 1,598 hours
> Labor productivity: $51.60 per hour
> GDP per capita: $42,409
> Unemployment rate, 2012: 4.4%

Austrians effectively receive 22 working days of paid vacation a year, according to CEPR. But numerous conditions exist that can make this number even higher. Workers with 25 years of work experience, or those who work strenuous jobs during nighttime hours, are entitled to additional time off. Austria also has 13 paid holidays, and employees who do work on these days must be compensated with time off or twice their daily wage. At just 4.5% in 2012, Austria had a lower unemployment rate than any other country in the eurozone. Possibly helping to keep unemployment so low, Austria has a long-standing apprenticeship program that helps find employment for much of the country's youngest workers, although the popularity of the program has faded in recent decades.

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Data & Research

This report presents information on direct certification with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for free school meals for SY 2017-2018 and SY 2018-2019.

USDA Foods in Schools Infographics

USDA Foods data collected via the Web-Based Supply Chain Management (WBSCM) system and the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Order Receipt System (FFAVORS) were analyzed to conduct analyses on food purchases and spending at the national and state levels for four school years. These infographics display national data for school years 2016-2017 and 2017-2018.

Evaluation of the FY 2016 Team Nutrition Training Grants

In September 2016, FNS awarded Team Nutrition Training Grants to 14 state agencies that administer the USDA’s NSLP, SBP, and CACFP. This TNTG cohort was different than previous cohorts because, for the first time, grantees were asked to outline a plan to evaluate some or all of the interventions they would implement with grant funding. In order to support this evaluation, they were asked to partner with a social scientist, and FNS provided technical assistance for evaluation. This report summarizes the evaluations of interventions funded by the FY 2016 Team Nutrition Training Grants and the evaluation findings, and provides lessons learned from the experience and recommendations for improving the quality of evaluations under future grants.