Cyborg | Designer-Babies | Futurism | Futurist | Immortality | Longevity | Nanotechnology | Post-Human | Singularity | Transhuman

– National Association of Speakers New Orleans

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Nov 052015

The best keynote speakers and trainers in the New Orleans areas belong to the National Speakers Association of New Orleans, also known as NSA New Orleans.

The goal of NSA New Orleans is to advance the art and business skills of experts who are hired to speak and present at conferences, conventions and corporate events.

This website serves as a resource to meeting planners who wish to hire expert speakers and trainers for conference keynote speeches, conference breakout sessions or training for corporate meetings and for individual companies. It is also a resource for members who are active professional speakers, as well as individuals who aspire to be a professional speaker and earn a living as a speaker who shares his or her expertise with audiences in New Orleans, across the United States and around the world.

Walter Bond CSP & CPAE who has taken the speaking business by storm is headed our way. After being on the speaking circuit for a short period of time Walter Bond has already graced the main stage at NSA. He is now making his rounds teaching at various NSA chapter events sharing his speaking secrets. Bond says it is all in the fundamentals. I learned in the NBA how to become a real pro. There is difference between a professional speaker and a professional who speaks and Bond aims to show us the difference. After this powerful session on the basics you will be ready to take your business to the next level.

You will learn powerful insights on:

For nearly two decades, Walter Bond has been a premiere expert on peak performance. Walters mastery in two different global industries has made him an authority on peak performance. Walter has delivered his entertaining and dynamic message to companies and associations throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Europe. Clients include Accenture, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, The Dwyer Group, Allianz, Amway, GNC, Hilton, Medtronic, UPS Store, Radio Shack, Red Robin and many national associations.

Walters passion for personal development has been anchored by his professional basketball career. Although a reserve throughout his college basketball career at the University of Minnesota, Bond miraculously enjoyed an eight year career while spending time as a shooting guard for teams such as the Dallas Mavericks, Utah Jazz and Detroit Pistons. This is where he learned peak performance truths that he has also applied to a wildly successful speaking career.

Bonds college basketball career did not say NBA at all. Only hard work, dedication and commitment got him there. That mentality is what he wants to share with your audience. Whether its a new product launch, hitting sales goals, gelling as a team Bond is passionate about sharing his 31 Truths to Boost Peak Performance.

In 2013, Walter appeared as the host of The Food Networks show Giving You The Business. Walter was chosen over numerous candidates because of his infectious personality and franchise business experience. Episodes featured restaurants such as Saladworks, Famous Familia and Jersey Mikes.

Walters program is not just another session. Treat your audience to a memorable, impactful and educational experience. Walter is sure to make you look good.

Communication techniques to improve ones personal, financial, business and emotional life understanding the psychology of happiness.

40 years ago and over a half million consultations later has polished Glenn Michael Milliet into a communications expect sought often and respected throughout the beauty and fashion industry for developing, defining and refining the art of Happiness Selling through the use of time tested and power communication techniques.

Glenn Michael Milliet is now expanding his High Touch, High Energy, High Sales communication seminars for businesses and individuals that want and desire increased sales and long term happy client relationships.

In addition to How to be a Powerful Communicator, Glenns programs include:

Metrics can be like magic. Have you wondered: how can the reports and analytics of digital marketing give you the insight and key info you need to succeed? This seminar will take you step-by-step through the amazing data generated by some of the key online marketing tools and give you tips on how to use it.

Kathryn Cariglino has been a pioneer in the world of women in business since starting her Womens Yellow Pages business in 1989. In 1993 she founded one of the earliest, continuously contracted SBA Womens Business Centers based in Mobile, Alabama. Now retired, she does marketing consulting and serves as the Authorized Local Expert for the Constant Contact Company. The name of her business reflects her own philosophy of life and business: Never Give Up!

I owe much of my success to NSA, and I am proud to serve as the New Orleans Chapter President this year. If you are interested in professional speaking, or marketing yourself as an expert, you cannot afford not to check out the National Speakers Association. Please come visit us and see for yourself. Kevin Gilheany

NEW! Chapter Member All Access Pass to Monthly Workshops $25 per Month

Guest All Access Pass to Monthly Workshops $27 per month subscription

To get regular updates and meeting remindersJoin Our Mailing List

December 5, 2015 Barbara Glanz Rocket to the Top 10 Secrets for Speaking Success

January 9, 2016 Tim Richardson Sales, Marketing, and Reinvention Lessons Learned from 25+ Years in the Speaking Profession

February No Meeting

March 12, 2016 Doug Stevenson Story Theater Storytelling Mastery That Grows Your Business

April 2, 2016 Dan Thurmon Doing What It Takes How to Differentiate and Deliver In Todays Competitive Marketplace

May 14, 2016 Lenora Billings-Harris Embracing the Change Capture Your Audience

June 4, 2016 Mary Kelly Product Development to Increase Bookings and Profits for Speakers

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– National Association of Speakers New Orleans

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Channel Islands of California – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Oct 202015

The Channel Islands of California are a chain of eight islands located in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Southern California along the Santa Barbara Channel in the United States of America. Five of the islands are part of Channel Islands National Park, and the waters surrounding these islands make up Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. The islands were first colonized by the Chumash and Tongva Native Americans 13,000 years ago, who were then displaced by European settlers who used the islands for fishing and agriculture. The U.S. military uses the islands as training grounds, weapons test sites, and as a strategic defensive location. The Channel Islands and the surrounding waters house a diverse ecosystem with many endemic species and subspecies.

The eight islands are split among the jurisdictions of three separate California counties: Santa Barbara County (four), Ventura County (two), and Los Angeles County (two). The islands are divided into two groupsthe Northern Channel Islands and the Southern Channel Islands. The four Northern Islands used to be a single landmass known as Santa Rosae.

The archipelago extends for 160 miles (257km) between San Miguel Island in the north and San Clemente Island in the south. Together, the islands land area totals 221,331 acres (89,569ha), or about 346 square miles (900km2).

Five of the islands (San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, Anacapa, and Santa Barbara) were made into the Channel Islands National Park in 1980. The Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary encompasses the waters six nautical miles (11 kilometers) off Anacapa, Santa Cruz, San Miguel, Santa Rosa, and Santa Barbara islands.

Santa Catalina Island is the only one of the eight islands with a significant permanent civilian settlementthe resort city of Avalon, California, and the unincorporated town of Two Harbors.

Natural seepage of oil occurs at several places in the Santa Barbara Channel.[1] Tar balls or pieces of tar in small numbers are found in the kelp and on the beaches. Native Americans used naturally occurring tar, bitumen, for a variety of purposes which include roofing, waterproofing, paving and some ceremonial purposes.[2]

The Channel Islands at low elevations are virtually frost-free and constitute one of the few such areas in the 48 contiguous US states. It snows only rarely, on higher mountain peaks.

The eight Channel Islands of California, off the west coast of North America

Separated from the California mainland throughout recent geological history, the Channel Islands provide the earliest evidence for human seafaring in the Americas. It is also the site of the discovery of the earliest paleontological evidence of humans in North America.[3] The Northern Channel Islands are now known to have been settled by maritime Paleo Indian peoples at least 13,000 years ago. Archaeological sites on the island provide a unique and invaluable record of human interaction with Channel Island marine and terrestrial ecosystems from the late Pleistocene to historic times. Historically, the northern islands were occupied by the island Chumash, while the southern islands were occupied by the Tongva. Scott O’Dell has had a book written about the indigenous peoples living on the island, Island of the Blue Dolphins. Aleuts hunters visited the islands to hunt otters in the early 1800s. The Aleuts purportedly clashed with the native Chumash, killing many over trading disputes. Aleut interactions with the natives were also detailed in O’Dell’s book.[4]

The Chumash and Tongva were removed from the islands in the early 19th century, taken to Spanish missions and pueblos on the adjacent mainland. For a century, the Channel Islands were used primarily for ranching and fishing activities, which had significant impacts on island ecosystems, including the local extinction of sea otters, bald eagles, and other species. With most of the Channel Islands now managed by federal agencies or conservation groups, the restoration of the island ecosystems has made significant progress.Several of the islands were used by whalers in the 1930s to hunt for sperm whales.[5]

In 1972, the Brown Berets seized and claimed the islands for Mexico, citing the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, a treaty between Mexico and the USA by which Mexico lost more than half of its territory, and arguing that the treaty does not specifically mention the Channel Islands nor the Farallon Islands. Though the United States had occupied them since 1852, the group speculated that Mexico could claim the islands and seek their return through litigation before the International Court of Justice. However, a detailed analysis of its situation puts in doubt the likelihood of Mexico winning the case at the International Court of Justice.[6]The Channel Islands National Park’s mainland visitor center received 342,000 visitors in 2014. The Channel Islands itself attracts around 70,000 tourists a year, most during the summer.[7] Visitors can travel to the islands via public boat or airplane transportation. Camping grounds are available on Anacapa, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, San Miguel, and Santa Barbara Islands in the Channel Islands National Park. Attractions include whale watching, hikes, snorkeling, kayaking and camping.[8]

The United States Navy controls San Nicolas Island and San Clemente Island, and has installations elsewhere in the chain. During World War II all of Southern Californias Channel Islands were put under military control, including the civilian-populated Santa Catalina where tourism was halted and established residents needed permits to travel to and from the mainland.[9] San Miguel Island was used as a bombing range[10] and Santa Barbara Island as an early warning outpost under the presumed threat of a Japanese attack on California.[11] San Clemente Island was used to train the Navy’s first amphibious force to prepare for Pacific combat against the Japanese in World War II.[12] San Nicolas Island has been used since 1957 as a launch pad for research rockets. San Nicolas was considered out of eight possible locations as the site of the Trinity nuclear test.[13] Santa Rosa Island was used in 1952 as a base for the USAF 669th AC&W Squadron and they operated two Distant Early Warning FPS-10 radars from the hilltops there. In 1955 another FPS-3 search radar was added, and in 1956, a GPS-3 search radar was installed. A new MPS-14 long-range height-finder radar was installed in 1958. The base was shut down in March 1963, when the 669th was moved to Vandenberg AFB In Lompoc, California. The islands still house US Navy SEALs training facilities and continues to use the Naval Auxiliary Landing Field located on San Clemente Island.[12]

The Channel Islands are part of one of the richest marine ecosystems of the world. Many unique species of plants and animals are endemic to the Channel Islands, including fauna such as the Channel Islands spotted skunk, ashy storm-petrel, Santa Cruz sheep, and flora including a unique subspecies of Torrey pine.

Flora on the Channel Islands include a unique subspecies of pine, oak, and the island tree mallow. Santa Rosa Island holds two groves of the Torrey pine subspecies Pinus torreyana var. insularis, which is endemic to the island. Torrey pines are the United States’ rarest pine species.[14] The islands also house many rare and endangered species of plants, including the island barberry, the island rushrose, and the Santa Cruz Island lace pod. giant kelp forests surround the islands and act as a source of nutrition and protection for other animals.[15]

Invasive species, such as the Australian blue gum tree, olive tree, sweet fennel and Harding grass threaten native species through competition for light, nutrients, and water. The Australian blue gum, for example, releases toxins in its leaf litter which prevents other species of plants from growing in the soil surrounding it. The blue gum, as well as other species including the Harding grass, are much more flammable and better adapted to wildfires than native species.[16]

The Channel Islands and the waters surrounding hold many endemic species of animals, including fauna such as the Channel Islands spotted skunk, island scrub jay, ashy storm-petrel, Santa Cruz sheep, San Clemente loggerhead shrike, San Clemente sage sparrow. Many species of large marine mammals, including pacific gray whales, blue whales, and California sea lions breed or feed close to the Channel Islands. Seabirds, including the western gulls, bald eagles, pigeon guillemonts, and Scripps’s murrelets use the islands as well for shelter and breeding grounds. The endemic island fox is California’s smallest natural canine and has rebounded from its near extinction in the late 1990s. Several endemic reptile species including the island fence lizard, island night lizard, and Channel Islands slender salamander live on the islands.[17]

Conservation efforts are being made to maintain the islands’ endemic species. Feral livestock, including pigs, goats, and sheep, pose a threat to many of the species, including the San Clemente loggerhead shrike and Channel Islands spotted skunk. The National Park Service eradicated the feral pigs on Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz islands during the 1990s and on Santa Catalina Island in 2007.[18][4] Introduced pathogens have devastated island species due to isolation from the mainland. In 1998, an outbreak of canine distemper swept through Santa Catalina Island severely reducing the island skunk and fox populations. Rabies and distemper vaccination programs were initiated to protect the island’s wildlife. Canine distemper is thought to have been brought to the islands on a stowaway raccoon or a domestic dog.[19]

In the 1950s, bald eagles and peregrine falcons on the Channel Islands became locally extinct after widespread use of pesticides such as DDT.[20] The birds ingest contaminated fish and seabirds which poisons the adults and weakens their eggs. Golden eagles, which are natural competitors of other birds of prey, do not primarily feed on these animals and were able to colonize the islands in the early 1990s. In the early 2000s, golden eagles were live trapped and relocated.[21] In 2002 and 2006 breeding pairs of bald eagles were reintroduced to the northern islands.[22] Later in 2006, the introduced adult eagles hatched chicks on the islands for the first time since their extinction. The Channel Islands National Park established a bald eagle webcam on their website in 2007.[4]

Coordinates: 340058N 1194814W / 34.01611N 119.80389W / 34.01611; -119.80389

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Channel Islands of California – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Best Places to Live in Piscataway Township, New Jersey

 Islands  Comments Off on Best Places to Live in Piscataway Township, New Jersey
Oct 182015

New York is the largest metro area in the United States. It includes the island of Manhattan, an eight-county area immediately north, western Long Island, and Staten Island. It is the fourth largest in the world behind Tokyo, Mexico City, and Sao Paulo, Brazil. Regardless of how the area is defined, New York is among the richest and most complex places to live in America.

Boroughs, districts, and neighborhoods define the city. The borough of Manhattan, a 10-mile-long, 2-mile-wide island, is the financial, commercial, and entertainment core. Much of Lower Manhattan consists of narrow, haphazard streets, dating back to the citys earliest days as a Dutch colony. With the exception of older areas, such as Greenwich Village, the rest of the city follows an orderly grid pattern of avenues and streets laid out in 1811. (Broadway, another exception, moves at a gentle diagonal across the city.)

Filling out the island are distinct districts. Lower Manhattan contains the Financial District. Midtown is the commercial center, with corporate headquarters, various media businesses, and world-class shopping along Fifth Avenue. Large skyscrapers dominate Lower Manhattan, then retreat as does hard bedrock to build on in those areas, then reemerges in Midtown. The in-between area is dominated by older ethnic enclaves like Chinatown and Koreatown and the more famous artsy areas of Greenwich and Soho.

Hip residential areas lie east and west, mainly popular with young single professionals. North and west is Hells Kitchen, in the 40s (most Manhattan area locations are so approximated by their east-west numbered streets) is an old ethnic area and warehouse district enjoying a residential renaissance, to soon be aided by an elevated bikeway and commercial corridor along an old rail line. Times Square and the Theater District just west of Midtown contain the world-famous theaters and numerous restaurants. Surrounding Central Park, the Upper West and Upper East sides are predominantly residential, although both contain ample dining and shopping. The Upper East Side also contains posh enclaves unaffordable for most, outstanding museums, and the designer boutiques of Madison Avenue. The Upper West Side is dotted with large apartment buildings and is a favorite for working professionals and families. Farther north above Central Park, neighborhoods start to decline, although Harlem is undergoing a rebirth.

The boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx are a patchwork of residential and commercial areas and parks. They have large industrial areas with a predominant blue-collar feel containing manufacturing and freight distribution centers for the area. All are close to the city and offer relatively more living space, and all are experiencing verying degrees of economic and residential revival. Ethnic diversity is strong in all boroughs, while Queens is reputedly the most ethnically diverse area in the country.

Brooklyn is large and diverse enough to function as a standalone city, with large and some upscale residential areas with a modern downtown and substantial commercial and retail offerings areas. Brooklyn is known for its large Olmstead designed (of Central Park fame) Prospect Park. Brooklyn shares the western end of Long Island with Queens, with excellent transportation service into the city by rail and subway and numerous beaches, parks and residential neighborhoods south and east towards the large JFK airport. Brooklyn is socioeconomically very diverse, with a mix of upscale, middle class and poorer areas, while Queens is more clearly identifiable as middle class.

The Bronx area, on the mainland to the north of Manhattan, is the grittiest of the three areas, although its strategic location between the city and to better areas north is starting to bring some interest. Staten Island, a mainly-residential borough to the south, is connected to Manhattan by ferries and the Verrazano Narrows bridge.

Finally, the New York metro area includes northern suburbs stretching up into Westchester County between the east bank of the Hudson River and the Connecticut border. Westchester is generally upscale and expensive, with spread-out towns and a country setting. White Plains is the largest city and a modern corporate center with large facilities for IBM and a number of companies relocating north from Manhattan. Smaller but very upscale areas lie east along the Long Island Sound (Rye being an example) and north along the Hudson as the smaller towns of Tarrytown, Ossining and Croton-on-Hudson.

Rockland County is more middle class with some working-class areas. West Nyack is a large family-oriented middle class area. Other suburbs give workers access to New York by freeway or by rail lines across the Hudson or to northern New Jersey.

The New York area offers a rich assortment of amenities, with world-class dining, shopping, and performing arts including theater, symphony, opera, and live music. Museums and architectural attractions, large and small, draw global audiences. Numerous major-league teams play in the area, including the MLB Yankees and Mets, NBA Knicks, NFL Giants and Jets, and NHL Islanders and Rangers. An extensive public transit system with subways and buses serves the urban core and links the boroughs.

A suburban rail and ferry network services surrounding communities in Connecticut, Long Island, and New Jersey. Rail lines on the Northeast Corridor make such cities as Boston and Washington, D.C. easily accessible. Many residents dont own cars and choose to depend on public transit or an occasional car rental. Three major airportsLa Guardia, Kennedy, and nearby Newarkprovide air service domestically and abroad. Surrounding the city are numerous recreation areas: Long Island beaches, the Poconos, the Hudson Valley, and the Jersey Shore, to name only a few.

The downsides are significant. The city is crowded and stressful, and some neighborhoods are run down. Violent crime rates are high, although not as bad as the stereotype. Cost of living is high in all categories and is rising. Median home prices of half a million or more dont buy much, especially in Manhattan. Home prices there can be five to six times higher for comparable properties in surrounding boroughs. Income differentials between wealthy workers and others are high, and overall the Buying Power Index is usually the worst in the country, suggesting that incomes dont keep up with costs. New York is a great place if you like the lifestyle and can make ends meet.

The New York City area exceeds 300 square miles and is located mostly on islands. Elevations range from less than 50 feet over most of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens to several hundred feet in northern Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island. The area is close to storm tracks, and most weather approaches from the west- producing higher summer and lower winter temperatures than would otherwise be expected in a coastal area. Summers are hot and humid with occasional long periods of discomfort. Sea breezes occasionally moderate summer heat and winter cold in Lower Manhattan. Manhattan and the inner boroughs are more likely to receive rain in winter while outlying areas get snow. Precipitation is distributed fairly evenly throughout the year. Summer rainfall is mainly from thunderstorms, usually of brief duration. Late summer and fall rains associated with tropical storms may occur. Coastal noreaster storms can produce significant snow. First freeze is mid-November, last is early April.

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Best Places to Live in Piscataway Township, New Jersey

Illuminati (Earth-616) – Marvel Comics Database

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Sep 062015

Skrulls, The Hood, Rabum Alal, Black Swan, Terrax, Avengers, Captain America, Great Society, Namor’s Cabal, Black Order, Imperial Guard, Pride; formerly Hulk, S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Avengers


The Illuminati were a covert think-tank team consisting of Mister Fantastic, Iron Man, Professor X, Doctor Strange, Black Bolt, and Namor. They met in secret for a number of years collaborating on information and strategy, operating relatively successfully initially, despite their unique traits and considerable differences in nearly every way.

They each represented a certain something that was very special Namor, of course, was the king of 71% of the planet, of the Atlanteans, and represented a certain mindset of anti-heroes; Tony Stark represented a certain type of hero the Avenger type of hero, one who understood and appreciated that heroes could work with the government, rather than outside of it; Reed was the science side of the heroes; Black Bolt represented the Inhumans; Dr. Strange spoke for the mystical side, and Professor Xavier was there for the mutants. They all brought with them a unique viewpoint and perspective that wasn’t shared by the others.

The group formed some time in the aftermath of the Kree-Skrull War, and probably after the Avengers/Defenders war. Iron Man realized that each of the individual members had information about these alien races beforehand, and they could have collectively stopped it. He brought together the Illuminati with the Black Panther in Wakanda, and proposed that they form a government of superhumans similar to the United Nations. However, Namor refused, on the grounds that too many superheroes were violent outsiders (such as Hawkeye and Quicksilver, both former criminals). Xavier refused on the grounds that mutants were already feared and hated, and if Iron Man thought he could fight this with iconic superheroes, it would result in heroes being feared and hated as much as mutants. Dr. Strange refused on the grounds that too many heroes were anti-establishment and that the group Iron Man had assembled to form a governing body would not be ‘anti-establishment’, but rather a form of ‘counter-establishment’.[1]

The group did, however, agree to meet to exchange information regularly. The only individual present who refused was the Black Panther, who took issue with their self-righteous attitudes and feared the association would end in less than altruistic actions. He also predicted that the group would one day find themselves in the middle of the kind of event they had formed to prevent, and would be entirely at odds with each other.[1]

The Illuminati traveled to the homeworld of the Skrulls, who were still reeling from their defeat during the Kree-Skrull War on Earth. The group warned the Empire not to attack Earth again, but were unable to escape afterwards. The Skrulls analyzed their captives (physiology, genetics, technology, etc) and gleaned information from their behavior, until Iron Man was able to lead an escape. The Illuminati recognized that another attack was inevitable, while the Skrull Empire began to make use of the data they compiled.[2] By using a clone of Reed Richards, the Skrulls were able to be undetected by superheroes.[3]

Mr. Fantastic revealed to the group that he had been collecting the Infinity Gems, and hoped to collect them all with the help of the Illuminati. Despite a general apprehension, the group managed to acquire all six gems. Upon doing so, Mr. Fantastic attempted to will the Gems out of existence, but he was unable to do so. Faced with this failure, and a reprimand from Uatu, the Watcher, he made the controversial decision to give each Illuminati member one gem to hide so that they would never be combined and used again.[4]

The Illuminati, minus Tony Stark, whose role as Iron Man was being filled by Jim Rhodes, confronted the Beyonder. The Beyonder was an Inhuman who was a mutant before he was exposed to the Terrigen Mists. Black Bolt, under the guise as the Beyonder’s “king”, convinced him to go into another dimension in exile.[5]

The Illuminati approached Noh-Varr, a Kree warrior who tried to take over the Earth, in his prison. They demonstrated the Kree connection to the Inhumans, and their desire to protect Earth. They demonstrated the primitive nature of humanity, but also the potential of the race to evolve and better itself. Ultimately, using Captain Marvel (a deceased, Kree-born superhero), they tried to convince Noh-Varr to use his powers to protect the Earth and guide humans to better themselves.[6]

Iron Man informed the Illuminati of the formation of a new Avengers team in light of the breakout from the Raft. All but Namor wished him well in his endeavor, and Iron Man moved on to the issue of the Sentry. Although none of the Illuminati had any recollection of him, Mr. Fantastic discovered that he had files on the Sentry and Professor Xavier discovered that his mind had been tampered with. Mr. Fantastic was able to use the files to get through to Robert Reynolds, aka the Sentry, and help him reverse what has been done to him. Iron Man told the group that the Avengers took full responsibility for the Sentry, should he ever lose control, but dodged their questions about other recent Avengers inquiries.[7]

Maria Hill, Director of SHIELD, approached Iron Man concerning the Hulk, who had recently destroyed Las Vegas with several casualties. Iron Man presented a solution to the problem of the Hulk to the Illuminati (excluding an absent Professor Xavier), suggesting that they shoot him into space, sending him to an uninhabited planet where he could live out the rest of his days alone. Namor, alone, dissented to the plan. He believed that they had no right to banish their ally from Earth and accused them of not helping to cure Bruce Banner to the best of their abilities. The other four members voted in favor of the plan, and Namor departed. While leaving, he said that the Black Panther was correct, and predicted that the Hulk would return to seek justified revenge.

Despite deciding not to meet again, Iron Man called together the Illuminati (excluding Professor Xavier, who is in exile in Scotland after the M-Day) to introduce them to the Superhuman Registration Act. He illustrated the fact that recent events had raised suspicion of all super-powered individuals and groups, and that one wrong move on the part of a hero would trigger disaster.

If the Act passed, a war amongst heroes would result and cause untold damage. In order to avoid it, Iron Man reiterated his idea of a representative body of superheroes, and urged the group to come out in favor of registration prior to a disaster. Namor dismissed the issue as none of Atlantis’ business, Dr. Strange and Black Bolt disagreed on principle, but Mr. Fantastic agreed with Tony. The damage was done, however, and the Illuminati dissolved.[2]

Although the Illuminati never met or operated as a group during Civil War, their actions in the conflict reflected their reactions at the last meeting. Iron Man and Mr. Fantastic became two of the leading members of the pro-registration side, and worked closely with the United States government and SHIELD. Dr. Strange stayed out of the conflict, meditating and fasting,[8] though he later admitted, after joining the New Avengers and finding new love, that he regretted his lack of involvement. Afterwards, he joined the New Avengers, who continued to operate underground without registering. Black Bolt and the Inhumans stayed out of the conflict, but began their own Cold War with the United States. Namor was involved only so far as it served his interests. This included avenging the death of his cousin in the Stamford tragedy, and coming to the aid of his friend Captain America’s forces in the final battle.[9] Professor Xavier was not on Earth during the conflict.

During Civil War, Reed was contacted by Amadeus Cho, who informed him that Hulk did not land on the intended planet. When the Hulk ultimately returned to Earth, he sought revenge on the Illuminati as Namor had warned. His first act was to attack and defeat the Skrull Black Bolt at the Inhuman settlement on the Moon. After providing New York with a twenty-four-hour time limit to hand the other three Illuminati over to him, the Hulk approached Xavier at his mansion to determine whether he would have supported the Illuminati plan had he been present. He battled the X-Men, eventually beating every single member in Xaviers school. Xavier told Hulk that had he been there, he would have voted yes, and offered himself to the Hulk in exchange for the safety of the X-Men, but after learning of the mutant population’s recent severe losses as a result of M-Day, and the deaths of several of Xaviers students, the Hulk decided that the X-Men had suffered enough and departed.

Having then taken over Manhattan Island, the Hulk was attacked by Iron Man in a new Hulkbuster armor, but just when it seemed Tony had triumphed the hulk became enraged allowing him to defeat Starks new armor and Stark Tower. Despite the aid of the other members of the Fantastic Four, including temporary members Black Panther and Storm, the same fate befell Mr. Fantastic. Dr. Strange tried to enter the Hulk’s mind, but Hulk tricked Strange into presenting himself in a physical form that he attacked upon appearance. Strange later invoked and is possessed by the demon spirit of Zom, hoping that he could stop the Hulk before it was too late. However he lost control of his new found power, and he almost caused some civilians to die during his battle with the Hulk. Although the Hulk saved them, this action made Strange lose his confidence in his powers and made him weak enough for the Hulk to defeat him.

Hulk then implanted the Illuminati members with obedience discs and forced them to fight each other in his makeshift gladiatorial ring in Madison Square Garden. However the Hulk spared them from killing each other, showing them that he proved his point to the world. They survived the encounter by the timely intervention of the Sentry, who battled the Hulk, but ultimately lost as the two reverted to their human forms and Banner knocked him out with a blow to the head. Hulk then returned, but Stark used prototype defense satellites to negate the Hulk’s powers. The Illuminati was also cleared from the responsibility of Sakaar’s destruction when Miek admitted he saw the Red King’s forces breach the ship’s warp core and kept quiet to initiate what Miek felt was Hulk’s destiny as the “Worldbreaker”.[10] Namor, being the only Illuminati member opposed to shooting Hulk into space from the beginning, was spared by Hulk for that reason, and remained non-involved throughout the conflict.

Iron Man called the Illuminati together one more time to show them the body of the Skrull that was posing as Elektra. He felt that the Skrull represented a secret invasion of Earth, and that the group was responsible (after traveling to the Skrull home-world years before). His suspicions were proved correct when Black Bolt revealed himself to be a disguised Skrull. The five remaining members were able to barely defeat it, and its two compatriots, and began making plans to detect and defeat the remaining Skrulls. They soon realized, however, that this was pointless, as they couldn’t trust each other.[11]

Iron Man and Mister Fantastic were the two chief fighters of the Secret Invasion, taking central roles in the main battles, and key to the ultimate failure of the Invasion, though surviving not unscathed at all. Iron Man brought the Skrull corpse to the world’s top minds, and summoned Criti Noll (in the form of Henry Pym) and Mister Fantastic to examine and dissect the body. Stark was soon, as planned by the Skrulls, called in, along with his Mighty Avengers to the Savage Land, where one of the first and most significant of battles of the invasion took place, starting when a spaceship crashed there, several dozen superheroes came out, and the New Avengers, too, arrived on the scene. Just as Mister Fantastic ingeniously discovered the method of concealment the Skrulls had been utilizing to become virtually undetectable, Criti Noll acted, using a special, Skrull-designed gun to subdue Reed Richards and prevent him from maintaining solidity; the remaining members of the Fantastic Four were also swiftly taken out elsewhere for most of the invasion, though all survived, if but barely. Agent Abigail Brand of S.W.O.R.D. freed Mister Fantastic and took control over the Skrull ship he was held in to the Savage Land, but sadly not before the Skrulls managed to infect Iron Man with an alien virus disabling himself, his armor, and S.H.I.E.L.D. itself. Veranke, disguised as Spider-Woman, also attempted to crush and destabilize what remained of Stark’s morale, will and faith by trying to convince him he was actually a Skrull sleeper agent, but the Black Widow convinced him otherwise. Richards and Brand arrived, with Reed using a self-designed machine to reveal the Skrulls in the midst of the Savage Land battle, which were quickly disposed of by the heroes. Reed and Tony led the other heroes back to the now chaotic New York for the final battle, in which Reed exposed the Skrulls and which he was a prime target in, but Reed survived, and Tony, though his secondhand and relatively crude armor he had quickly constructed suffer enough damage to force him to initially retreat from the battle, used a spare old Iron Man armor to enable him to aid the struggle against the Skrulls, freeing the prisoners, including Pym and Jarvis. The blame for the invasion was placed on Stark, who lost S.H.I.E.L.D., a great deal of public support and popularity, and much of his pride and hope, becoming, essentially, a fugitive from the now-powerful Norman Osborn.

The Fantastic Four were hit hard when Osborn, knowing Reed Richards’ intellect well exceeded his own, attacked the Baxter Building when the Four were in another time and another place. Richards was more shaken by his own internal conflicts than any outside threats; nevertheless, Norman Osborn’s H.A.M.M.E.R. agents nearly succeeded in capturing the Four. Richards, after taking a long, hard look at the life, was inspired to construct a machine that was capable of bending reality itself. H.A.M.M.E.R. arrived just as Reed activated the machine, interfacing with the Baxter Building’s power supply and resulting in an energy fluctuation that sent Sue, Ben and Johnny back to the prehistoric era. Reed searched for answers which could only be found in alternate timelines as the three found themselves in a super hero Hyborian-age civil war. The Richards children, Franklin and Valeria, were the only ones available to confront the agents Osborn had sent. Richards studied other parallel Earths to see if any found a peaceful solution to the Civil War, which resulted from the Superhuman Registration Act. Reed peered into different worlds, some more bizarre than our own, to see what they did differently. Reed met with the other five Illuminati to handle the problem.

Feeling compromised by his use of dark magic, Doctor Strange left the New Avengers during the late stage of the infiltration and departed to parts unknown. He eventually resurfaced, alive but having lost nearly everything, from his house to his position as Sorcerer Supreme. What he did retain were the enmities of the Hood and Dormammu, both of whom wanted to slay Strange more desperately than ever, and a sense of duty to find the new Sorcerer Supreme and hand over the artifacts of the office. Feeling a desperate lack of power, he fled to the New Avengers for help.

Black Bolt (along with his son Ahura) was captured before the World War Hulk and did not even know about the invasion. His voice was intended by the Skrulls to be used as a powerful weapon of mass destruction, but the Inhumans, aided by the renowned Kree, Ronan the Accuser, found their former king, rescued him and returned to Attilan, with Black Bolt and Maximus sharing power, only for the Inhumans and Attilan, shaken by the invasion, angered by the Skrulls, and tiring of humanity’s treatment, themselves to depart from the Sol system, destroy the fleeing Skrull ship along the way, took control over the Kree Empire from Ronan, and realized their ultimate destiny in a conflict shaking the cosmos.[12]

Namor, along with his new ally Doctor Doom, were struck at least somewhat less hard, though certainly affected. Neither was successfully replaced by Skrulls, and it was unknown whether their forces were assaulted, either covertly or openly. Doom was at first unaware of even the Skrull invasion, before it outright exploded, though Veranke named him one of the “bigger guns” to be taken down. Doom was released from The Raft by the Skrull virus that infected Stark’s armor in the Savage Land and rendered StarkTech inoperable (it was unknown whether Doom was considered as part of the release). Namor and Atlantis were affected to an uncertain extent, with Namor, too, one of the “bigger guns” Veranke wanted removed and acknowledged as one of the Illuminati. Both separately arrived to the first Cabal meeting after the invasion, held by Osborn and attended by three others, though it was revealed afterwards they had been concocting secret plans that even Osborn was unaware of. Namor’s allegiance afterwards was unclear, from helping other heroes defend New York from the menace of the Red Hulk and aiding the new Captain America in searching for the first Human Torch’s body, to hunting down Tony Stark and insisting T’challa join the Cabal.[13] However, most recently, when an Atlantean sleeper cell launched a terrorist attack on California, Osborn ordered Namor to publicly denounce the rogues and execute them, leaving one alive to parade before the media. Namor vehemently refused and walked out on the Cabal.[14]

Even the Black Panther, T’Challa, after successfully fighting off a Skrull fleet attacking Wakanda with his wife Storm, forewarned by the discovery of the Brother Voodoo Skrull, was taken down, due to the cunning and might of Doctor Doom, an ambushing force of Doombots, and the Cabal, with a new female Black Panther (his sister) active, and Wakanda’s spirit shaken.

The Illuminati were technically no more, with its members so scarred and divided, along with the problem of working together during crises: Black Bolt was worlds (and galaxies) away; Doctor Strange’s strength was significantly reduced without the role of Sorcerer Supreme and the Sanctum Sanctorum; Tony Stark was blamed and heavily mistrusted as a fugitive and a failure; Xavier was no longer in charge of the X-Men but still in constant peril; Namor was working for sinister purposes once again as the Illuminati’s opposite, the Cabal, emerged in the shadow world that was rising; and Richards was occupied with the Fantastic Four and his own troubles with Osborn. Even the Black Panther was in severely critical condition. The Illuminati continued to exist in alternate realities.

To handle the problem of alternate-reality versions of the Civil War, Reed reassembled the Illuminati. It was unclear where Namor’s loyalties were and if the Illuminati would continue to unite against the threat of the Cabal.[15]

Parker Robbins, aka The Hood, escaped prison and started a search for the Infinity Gauntlet. While at the Raft, he had received a tip from an imprisoned Inhuman which led him to the Reality Gem at Attilan. Then he teleported himself to the Baxter Building, where he used the first Gem’s power to bypass security and take the Power Gem. The two Gems sent him unwittingly to the desert, where he found Red Hulk and defeated him. Red Hulk managed to get to Avengers Tower and bring news of what had happened. Realizing that the Gems were back in circulation, Iron Man quickly gathered the Illuminati, with Medusa in the place of her then-deceased husband Black Bolt.

The team went to Atillan to investigate but were discovered by three teams of Avengers, revealing the continued existence of the Illuminati to the superhero world. Their teammates were visibly hurt that these men had been operating secretly and considered it a breach of trust — the wound between Iron Man and Steve Rogers was particularly deep. However, the Avengers teams united to search for the Gems before Robbins could obtain them. Namor, Thor, and Red Hulk recovered the Time Gem at the bottom of the sea. Xavier, along with the Secret Avengers, Wolverine, Spider-Woman and Maria Hill went to the ruins of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, where the Mind Gem was guarded by the Danger Room. The Space Gem was hidden at Area 51 in New Mexico, but when Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic, Doctor Strange, and some of the New Avengers arrived, Robbins already had it in his possession. The Space Gem brought Hood to the Time Gem, which was being protected by the Red Hulk, Thor, and Namor. Red Hulk managed to take the Power Gem from Hood when he was distracted by the presence of Uatu, the Watcher. The combatants were teleported to New Mexico again, where Iron Man and the rest of the Avengers woke up from being knocked out by Robbins previously.

Faced with a cavalry charge of angry Avengers, Robbins escaped to Professor Xavier’s school and obtained the Mind Gem, with which he defeated Xavier in a telepathic fight. After knocking him out along the rest of the heroes there, Robbins teleported to the location of the Soul Gem on the Astral Plane; there, Strange met Robbins under the illusion of the mad titan Thanos. He attempted to talk Robbins into giving over the other Gems, but when that failed he took them both out of the Astral Plane and into the middle of a group of other heroes. Red Hulk attacked Robbins with the Power Gem, allowing Namor and Ms. Marvel to take the Mind and the Space Gems. Parker was unaware of these losses until Reality Gem was taken from him by the other Gems, which were in the Infinity Gauntlet held by Iron Man, making him the first human to wield this artifact.

Iron Man used the Gauntlet to send Robbins back to prison and then apparently willed it out of existence. In reality he sent it to a secret location, to which he regathered the Illuminati. Now counting Steve Rogers among their number, they divided the Infinity Gems again and took them to new hiding places. The re-formation of the group appears to remain a secret.

When the Phoenix Force returned to Earth and created a war between the Avengers and the X-Men, Captain America re-convened the Illuminati to convince Namor, who was possessed by the Phoenix, to cease his activities and convince the rest of the Phoenix Five to do the same. The meeting proved to be unproductive as most of the members were split in opinions on the conflict, and all of them left, thinking Namor wouldn’t come. Namor arrived in the room after the others had left and Captain America asked him to stand down, but Namor refused, although he acknowledged that he still respected Captain America as a friend, an ally and even a brother, which was why he wouldn’t capture him or reveal any of their secrets to the other Phoenixes.

After a mysterious portal to an alternate universe opened in the middle of Wakanda, Black Panther had an encounter with a mysterious figure claiming to be a “Black Swan”, who was trying to destroy another universe from colliding with hers. After realizing the threat that his universe would collide with another, T’Challa captured Black Swan and re-convened the Illuminati deciding to join them officially to face this new threat,[16] Beast later joined the team as asked by Professor X in his last will.

The Illuminati used the Infinity Gauntlet to buy their universe more time by pushing the colliding universe back for some time, but during the process, the gems were destroyed. Captain America upon this failure didn’t like the direction the team was willing to go because of the moral grey area and wouldn’t back off of his opposition to the idea of destroying another planet. The group decided it was best to move on without Captain America and Dr Strange wiped his mind of any memory of the Illuminati removing him from the group.[17]

The members of the Illuminati began working on solutions to destroy other worlds in the occasion an Incursion happened. Iron Man began working on a partial Dyson Sphere to power a weapon Reed Richards named Sol’s Hammer. Doctor Strange retrieved a forbidden tome, with a spell that could destroy a world at the price of the caster’s life. T’challa and Reed developed a large armory of world killing devices reverse engineered from the Black Swans tech used to destroy a planet previously. When another Incursion happened, the Illuminati traveled to the other Earth to see if they couldn’t save people there before destroying the world. They found that the Galaktus of that universe had come to destroy that Earth to save his universe. They ended up fighting his Herald, Terrax, whom they captured but not in time to stop Galaktus, who consumed the other Earth, averting the Incursion.[18]

While interrogating Black Swan, who revealed that the Incursions began with the birth of the Great Destroyer, another Incursion struck, this time in Latveria.[19] The Illuminati took an Antimatter Injection System they needed to destroy the other Earth. This incursion was different from the others, as the colour of the sky was blue, which Black Swan indicated as the arrival of the Mapmakers, beings which wait for an incursion in order to infect and remake one of the Earths after destabilizing one, making a piece of the dead world collide into the living Earth. After realizing the colliding Earth was already dead, Black Panther detonated the trigger of the Antimatter Injection System, destroying the other Earth and saving theirs.[20]

When Thanos and his Black Order arrived Earth and demanded a tribute in exchange for the survival of its inhabitants, Black Bolt revealed the Illuminati that the Mad Titan used the demand for the tribute of the heads of younglings between the ages of sixteen and twenty-two as a cover for the search of his lost Inhuman-descendant son.[21] Using the Terrigen Codex, the Illuminati embarked on the search for Thanos’ son, Thane, but were stopped by the appearance of a new incursion in Australia.[22]

Before reaching a decision about what to do about the other Earth, the Illuminati were greeted by an Aleph arriving from the other Earth. The Aleph led them to the Builders of that universe who explained that the early death of the multiverse had led to the collapse of the Superflow, the space between universes, that they used to traverse them. In order to avert disaster and ensure the existence of the Multiverse, the Builders across the Multiverse had decided to destroy all Earths, thus hopefully stopping the Incursions. Since the Builders of Earth-616 had failed in their mission, these builders urged the Illuminati to destroy their own world for the sake of the Multiverse.[23]

Upon returning to Earth, the Illuminati discovered Thanos had invaded Wakanda and gained access to the Illuminati’s antimatter bombs by capturing Black Bolt. The Illuminati managed to fight back.[24] When the Illumianti arrived to the room where the bombs were, they found themselves against Thanos’ general Supergiant, who defeated them by mentally controlling Black Bolt. When Supergiant activated one of the bombs, Maximus appeared with the trigger. He triggered the bombs, but also used Lockjaw to transport the antimatter bomb along with Supergiant to a distant uninhabited planet where she died in the explosion.

The Illuminati travelled to Greenland in order to help the Avengers defeat Thanos, but arrived after the battle had ended when Thane trapped the Mad Titan in an amber construct which left him in a state of “living death.” Iron Man convinced the Avengers to let him keep Thanos, as he would supposedly “take care” of him, but secretly placed him in the Necropolis, where he and the rest of the Illuminati went about planning for the universe’s coming end.[25]

The Illuminati vs. the Great Society

Black Swan prompted them to build a “mirror” that would allow them to look into other universes. Reed Richards realized however that he had already built such a device, The Bridge.[26]

The next Incursion pitted the Illuminati against the Great Society of Earth-4290001, a group of noble heroes who had been able to prevent the destruction of their Earth without bloodshed. However, the Society no longer had the means to prevent this Incursion in the same way as the others. The Illuminati tried to convince the Society to work together with them, but the Society doubted that the Illuminati had any intentions of allowing their own world to be destroyed, and knew that they had the means to destroy the Society’s Earth. Knowing that it would come to bloodshed in the end and unwilling to waste anymore time, Namor struck the first blow, starting a battle for the fate of their respective worlds.[27]

Even though the Great Society turned the tide of the battle to their favor, Doctor Strange ended the battle by unleashed a demon which killed most of the Great Society and fatally injured Sun God. As the Illuminati were leaving this Earth having set the antimatter injector, Sun God begged them not to destroy his Earth. Black Panther offered him the chance to return with them, but he refused, preferring to die with his own Earth alongside his friends.

Back at their own universe, and with only ten minutes before impact, the Illuminati debated who would activate the antimatter injector. Both Mister Fantastic and Black Panther tried to will themselves to do it, but failed. Namor admitted that his personal moral beliefs weren’t worth more than the survival of billions of lives, and he was the one to finally activate the trigger, destroying the inhabited Earth.[28] Following this course of action, the Illuminati confronted Namor for what he had done. The friction between Namor and T’Challa escalated, and after revealing that he was the one who led the Black Order into assaulting Wakanda, Namor left.[29]

Due to the exposure to the explosion of the Watcher’s eye, which revealed deep secrets related to them to those in its blast radius,[30] Captain America remembered the mindwipe the Illuminati submitted him to, and confronted Iron Man about it.[31] He decided that the Illuminati’s actions shouldn’t be tolerated, and charged the Avengers with hunting them down.[32] At the same time, faced with another Incursion immediately after the last one, Namor had taken over Necropolis, freed the prisoners of the Illuminati and formed a new incarnation of the Cabal, with the purpose of destroying the incursive Earths, doing what the Illuminati were not willing to do.[33]

Eight months into the future, the Illuminati went into hiding, and added to their ranks Captain Britain, Amadeus Cho and Yellowjacket.[34] Because of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s improvement on ways to track them down, the Illuminati had to periodically move from base to base. After Cho infiltrated the Avengers Tower, now the S.H.I.E.L.D. Station: Golgotha, the team recovered the files of Tony Stark, who had gone into hiding and was yet to be found.[35]

While on the run, the Illuminati repeatedly attempted to find a way to solve the problem of Incursions, from trying to create a new Earth with a Cosmic Cube and then with Franklin Richards’ powers, to asking the Celestials and Galactus for help, but all these plans failed.[36]

With a new incursion on the horizon, the Illuminati devised a plan to get rid of Namor’s Cabal.[37] They let themselves be found by Steve Rogers’ Avengers, and set a trap to subdue them with the help of Sunspot’s Avengers.[38] Even though the help of the Invisible Woman was needed to make this possible, as Rogers’ Avengers had brought their own reinforcements,[39] the Illuminati were able to share their plan with Steve.

Namor, who had become disgusted with the Cabal’s needless slaughtering of the people of worlds they could destroy painlessly, was ready to turn himself in, but also set a trap to destroy the Cabal. For this next Incursion, the incursive world had been ravaged by the Sidera Maris. Namor would lead the Cabal to said world, activate the antimatter injector without their knowledge, and leave them to die with said Earth, preventing them from escaping with the use of an A.I.M. platform capable of creating an impenetrable barrier between the two colliding Earths. However, as Namor had left the incursive Earth and prepared to activate the platform, Black Panther and Black Bolt appeared before him. They incapacitated Namor and threw him off the platform to the soon-to-be-destroyed Earth in order to make him personally pay for his crimes. As the antimatter injector began to destroy the Earth, T’Challa and Blackagar returned to theirs, informing the Avengers that not only the Cabal had been destroyed, but Namor was also not going to come back.[37]

With the Cabal seemingly dealt with (even though they had actually survived and escaped to Earth-1610), the Illuminati and S.H.I.E.L.D. reached a truce and started working together.[36] Inspired by Valeria Richards, the Illuminati stopped working on a way to stop the incursions, as they “couldn’t win,” but started planning the creation of a “lifeboat” to survive the destruction of the universe, in order “not to lose.” Meanwhile, the Shi’ar empire discovered the link between the decay of the Multiverse and the Earth, for which they decided that if the universe was to live, the Earth must be destroyed. Even though they planned a sneak attack on the Earth, the Guardians of the Galaxy managed to discover the Shi’ar’s plan and warned the Avengers.[40]

While approaching Earth, the Shi’ar alerted humanity that they had two hours left to live until Earth was destroyed by their fleet. Using a super-weapon capable of channeling the Earth’s power, Sunspot and A.I.M. retaliated against the Shi’ar in front, while S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Avengers used a Planetkiller seized from the Beyonders to attack from behind. However, A.I.M.’s weapon overheated and exploded, and the Planetkiller was destroyed by the Annihilation Wave. With no options left, the Avengers prepared to meet their end. However, Iron Man had flown to Sol’s Hammer, and prepared to use it.[41]

Iron Man saved the Earth when he destroyed the Shi’ar fleet, but the final incursion was still on the horizon. The Avengers and the Illuminati started deciding which people would be allowed into a “lifeboat” they had created, which could theoretically survive the destruction of the universe. Meanwhile, as the final incursion happened, Steve finally confronted Tony for having betrayed his trust.[42]

Equipment: The Bridge, Incursion Detection devices, formerly the Infinity Gauntlet and Infinity Gems, Xavier School’s Cerebro Transportation: Lockjaw, Quinjet Weapons: Each members’ arsenal, Sol’s Hammer, Antimatter Injection Systems

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The DEA collected call metadata way before the NSA did

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Apr 082015

Provided by Engadget

Apparently, the NSA’s massive surveillance program wasn’t a first: it was modeled after a precursor that ran from 1992 until 2013. According to USA Today, that program was called USTO, because it monitored almost every American’s calls from the US to other countries. It was a joint initiative by the Justice Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration, which began as a way to keep tabs on Colombian drug cartels and their supply routes. Since then, it grew in scope (thanks in part to a powerful computer provided by the Pentagon) to cover all international calls made to around 116 countries worldwide, including Canada, Mexico, parts of Asia and Europe, and most of Central and Southern America. The group was only dissolved after Edward Snowden came public with the NSA’s secrets in 2013.

USA Today says this is the US government’s first known effort to gather intelligence on its citizens en masse. USTO didn’t exactly listen or record phone calls, though — instead, it asked carriers for phone call metadata, which contains numbers contacted, the time they were called and the duration of those conversations. Agents then used those to link data they got from other means, allowing them to piece together various information, such as drug distribution networks. The logs also didn’t include names, but the team could easily link numbers to particular people by cross-referencing data.

These documents were transferred over a private network and came in like clockwork, that details were usually just a few days old when they reached the agents. USA Today’s report didn’t specify all the carriers involved, but mentioned that Sprint “expressed reservations” about participating in 1998 (the company was basically told it had no choice) and that AT&T was likely one of them, as well.

The DEA didn’t allow anyone else, not even the FBI or the NSA to access its logs in the beginning. But over time, it gave other law enforcement agencies access to its database, especially after 9/11. Eventually, in an effort to keep this program hidden, the DEA’s Special Operations Division started passing on intel to prosecutors and feds as “tips” that they could act on. When Reutersblew the lid off that practice in 2013, it gave this scenario as an example: A field agent would get a call from an informant, telling him to intercept a particular van at a certain time and location. However, that agent wouldn’t be allowed to tell the court about the tip. Instead, he would have to reconstruct the case and find a way to arrive to the result without mentioning the DEA’s participation.

After USTO was put to a stop post-Snowden revelation — all records were reportedly purged — DEA agents had to start getting call records via more difficult means. Now, they have to send carriers subpoenas daily to get those logs, and only for numbers already linked to drug trade or other crimes.

Reuters, USA Today

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Pocket Voice Recording – CBP First Amendment Test, Lukeville, Arizona, USA Port of Entry – Video

 Misc  Comments Off on Pocket Voice Recording – CBP First Amendment Test, Lukeville, Arizona, USA Port of Entry – Video
Mar 222015

Pocket Voice Recording – CBP First Amendment Test, Lukeville, Arizona, USA Port of Entry
Pocket Voice Recording – CBP First Amendment Test, Lukeville, Arizona, USA Port of Entry from Sonoyta, Mexico, 14 March 2015 0:00:01.900,0:00:02.400 [Ready for Officer] 0:00:02.400,0:00:03.900…

By: Robert Trudell

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Pocket Voice Recording – CBP First Amendment Test, Lukeville, Arizona, USA Port of Entry – Video

Freedom Magazine: People Who Read are a Dying Breed

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Mar 212015

(PRWEB) March 21, 2015

One in four Americans didnt read a single book last year. And more than half of U.S. teens dont read for pleasure, ever. Meanwhile, research shows that readers are better able to communicate and better equipped to deal with feelingsboth their own and other peoples. Exposure to literature also breeds empathy, spurs compassion, and fuels success, according to Freedoms March cover story.

While statistics vary, writes author Michael Brennan, virtually all studies indicate that reading in this country is on the decline. The sharpest fall is among young people and students, but across all age and economic groups, the number of people who read for enjoyment, or as a primary source of information, is dwindling.

Also in the March issue of Freedom Magazine:

High & Dry: Californias San Joaquin Valley produces 25 percent of Americas food on just one percent of the nations farmland. The region is in its fourth straight year of drought, and facing a second year of zero water allocation. But while the crops are withered and the land is fallow, the people who farm Californias Central Valley are not. They fight to survive, and for a very basic human right: access to water.

Search & Rescue: When a gas explosion reduced a Mexico City maternity hospital to rubble, the Scientology volunteer ministry rushed to help. So did one very brave 11-year-old boy.

Bitter Pill: Does Big Pharma buy trials? The slippery ethics of for-profit clinical testing in Africa, India and much closer to home.

Freedom Magazine is committed to accurate and accountable reporting. Freedom is the voice of the Church of Scientology and reflects its stance that responsible journalism and the free flow of information are the lifeblood of all great societies.

Published since 1968, Freedom addresses issues, not politics. It seeks out and illuminates solutions to societys problems. Freedom proudly serves as a media watchdog, protecting the exchange of free ideas on which democracy relies. Freedom further spotlights the Church of Scientology-sponsored human rights, social betterment, and volunteer works, thereby advancing its purpose of safeguarding and promoting the rights of all.

Full Freedom Mission Statement

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Freedom Magazine: People Who Read are a Dying Breed

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What’s Going On With Bitcoin In Mexico – Video

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Mar 202015

What's Going On With Bitcoin In Mexico
In this video, Luke Rudkowski talks to the Bitcoin expert who runs the main Mexican exchange, Jose Rodriguez about the current status of Bitcoin in Mexico. Altis: Unisend:…

By: WeAreChange

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What’s Going On With Bitcoin In Mexico – Video

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Riviera Maya Mexico Spring Break 2015 – Beaches – YouTube – Video

 Beaches  Comments Off on Riviera Maya Mexico Spring Break 2015 – Beaches – YouTube – Video
Mar 192015

Riviera Maya Mexico Spring Break 2015 – Beaches – YouTube
Locations – Riviera Maya, Mexico Akumal IBEROSTAR Paraso Lindo Barcelo Maya Beach Tropical Gran Bahia Principe Akumal Grand Riviera Princess music by Artist: Alexandr Filippov Title: Friday…

By: JCVdude

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NSA Strongly Suspected In 'Equation Group' Hacks On Russian, Iranian Hard Drives

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Mar 132015

The U.S. National Security Agency may have been planting surveillance software into hard drives and other essential computer equipment sold around the world for more than a decade through a shadowy organization known as the Equation Group, a respected cybersecurity researcher says. The revelation, if true, indicates that operators within the NSA have been collecting far more information on the spy agencys behalf than previously thought.

The Equation Group manipulated hard drives manufactured by Toshiba, Seagate, IBM, Western Digital and others dating back as far as 2001, researchers at the Moscow-based cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab said Wednesday. Equation has also proven able to reprogram a machines firmware, meaning that hackers were able to monitor even the most mundane activity on tens of thousands of individual PCs without their owners knowledge.

Privacy experts say the disclosures highlight the need for international companies to do more to protect customers from evolving threats to their online security.

Existence of the Equation Group, believed to be made up of 60 or so actors, was first revealed at Kasperskys annual security summit in Mexico on Feb. 16. Kaspersky on Wednesday released further information that strongly links the organization to the NSA.

The dense technical language in the Kaspersky report essentially argues that spies were able to install malicious software into computer hard drives that activate again and again each time the computer powers on.

Researchers found source code that makes reference to STRAITACID, STRAITSHOOTER, and BACKSNARF_AB25. Those names bear a remarkable resemblance to BACKSNARF and STRAITBIZARRE, two malware campaigns used by NSAs Tailored Access Operations team and first revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Costin Raiu, Kasperskys lead researcher on the project, told Reuters that while the Equation Group was able to steal files on any of the infected computers, they assumed full control only of computers used by high-value targets. Disk drive firmware, which was infected in this hack, is the second-most valuable space on a computer for hackers (after a microprocessors input/output system), the news outlet reported.

The Equation Group appears to rely on the programs EquationDrug and GrayFish for its espionage operations.

Its important to note that EquationDrug is not just a Trojan, but a full espionage platform, which includes a framework for conducting cyberespionage activities by deploying specific modules of selected victims, stated a version of the report updated Wednesday. The architecture of the whole framework resembles a mini-operating system with kernel-mode and user-mode components carefully interacting with each other via custom message passing interface.

Again, Kaspersky did not officially pin the Equation Group on the NSA, but pointed out links that are hard to dismiss as coincidence.

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NSA Strongly Suspected In 'Equation Group' Hacks On Russian, Iranian Hard Drives

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Going from Mexico to the Belize Islands by Boat – Video

 Islands  Comments Off on Going from Mexico to the Belize Islands by Boat – Video
Mar 052015

Going from Mexico to the Belize Islands by Boat
Taking the fast boat from the town of Chetumal on the Yucatan, Mexico to beautiful Ambergris Caye (island) in Belize. Feel like something fun, adventurous and inspiring to read? “Following…

By: Gabriel Traveler

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Going from Mexico to the Belize Islands by Boat – Video

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How to Buy Bitcoin from a Bitcoin ATM

 Bitcoin  Comments Off on How to Buy Bitcoin from a Bitcoin ATM
Feb 282015

Knowing how to buy Bitcoin from a Bitcoin ATM is a good skill to have as the digital currency goes mainstream.

Today about 82,000 merchants accept Bitcoin – more than double the number just one year ago.

As more merchants accept Bitcoin, there’s a growing need to buy Bitcoin “on the go.” That’s why the number of Bitcoin ATMs has exploded over the past year.

At the start of 2014, there were just four Bitcoin ATMs on the entire planet. Now there are 350. Almost half of those are in North America (105 in the United States, 60 in Canada, 4 in Mexico).

And Bitcoin ATMs aren’t just clustered in places like New York and San Francisco. Both of those cities do have six Bitcoin ATMs. But so does Kansas City.

You can find a Bitcoin ATM in Birmingham, Ala., as well as Boise, Idaho.

Bitcoin ATMS are turning up in bars, restaurants, and shopping malls across America.

Baltimore, where Money Morning makes its home, has one in historic Fells Point at a bar called Bad Decisions. And people are using it.

“When I first put it in here I thought it would just collect dust, but we get about three transactions per day,” said Bad Decisions owner John Reusing. He installed the Bitcoin ATM at the urging of the Baltimore Bitcoin Meetup group, which gathers once a month at the bar.

Most of those who use the Bitcoin ATM at Bad Decisions do so regularly. Some buy as much as $1,000 worth of bitcoin at a time, Reusing said.

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How to Buy Bitcoin from a Bitcoin ATM

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Baja Peninsula – (612) 152-3435 – Baja California beaches – Video

 Beaches  Comments Off on Baja Peninsula – (612) 152-3435 – Baja California beaches – Video
Feb 282015

Baja Peninsula – (612) 152-3435 – Baja California beaches La Paz, found on the coasts of the Sea of Cortez is a perfect holiday in Baja California, Mexico. Just a short air travel from major cities in the US, this historic…

By: Lapaz Mexico Travel and Leisure

Baja Peninsula – (612) 152-3435 – Baja California beaches – Video

Hovdey: Success may win over Pain and Misery

 Misc  Comments Off on Hovdey: Success may win over Pain and Misery
Feb 202015


On the face of it, Pain and Misery is just about the worst name you could give a racehorse. This is not to trample on an owners first amendment rights to freedom of speech and its more creative expressions (as upheld in The Jockey Club vs. Mike Pegram in the naming of Isitingood). But this is 2015, for Petes sake, and the tolerance for any whiff of a cold-hearted attitude toward the welfare of the animal has pretty much evaporated.

Furthermore, its not as if Pain and Misery is going away anytime soon. In his first race as a 3-year-old last weekend, which was also his first race for trainer Richard Mandella, the racy brown gelding just missed winning the $75,000 Baffle Stakes at about 6 1/2 furlongs down the hillside course at Santa Anita. He was caught in the last jumps by Bench Warrant, who was coming off a pretty good effort to Lord Nelson and Texas Red in the San Vicente, in a race that put some life in a quiet Sunday afternoon.

Pain and Misery was ridden by young Flavien Prat, who did not as Trevor Denman suggested at one point during his call of the race drop his whip in the heat of the battle. To Mandella it didnt matter much, since his expectations were modest, and he was pleased with both horse and rider.

He came here from New Mexico during the fall meet at Del Mar, Mandella said. But he needed to back off a little before he could go forward. After that he came along really good. I needed to get a race into him, and the 6 1/2 on the turf was the only thing around. He did it really well, so now we can think about something like the San Felipe with him.

The San Felipe Stakes, on March 7, is the next major West Coast stop on the Kentucky Derby Express. Pain and Miserys pedigree by Bob and John out of a Running Stag mare suggests that the 1 1/16 miles of the San Felipe should be no sweat, and if he can handle the dirt at Zia Park he will love the stuff at Santa Anita.

This is a sweetheart of a horse, Mandella said. Good-natured. Does everything right. Just a pleasure to be around.

Which begs the question why does such a nice horse have to be burdened with such a terrible name? In a column from his collection This Was Racing, Joe Palmer held forth on the naming of horses for reasons both naughty and nice. He brought up a fellow who called one of his horses Ugly Mary and another Losing Clon.

He approached this on a practical level, Palmer wrote. He said with those names female hunch players would not bet on them, and he would get better odds when they won.

Of course, this is both sexist and wildly incorrect, unless female hunch players make up considerably more of the pari-mutuel pools that weve been led to believe. Pain and Misery went off at 10-1 in the Baffle, but the price could be blamed more on the uncertain 2-year-old form he brought to town from New Mexico, by way of Zia Park, where he won a maiden race and then the Governors Cup last fall for trainer Henry Dominguez.

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Hovdey: Success may win over Pain and Misery

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Suite of Sophisticated Nation-State Attack Tools Found With Connection to Stuxnet

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Feb 162015

CANCUN, MexicoThe last two years have been filled with revelations about NSA surveillance activities and the sophisticated spy tools the agency uses to take control of everything from individual systems to entire networks. Now it looks like researchers at Kaspersky Lab may have uncovered some of these NSA tools in the wild on customer machines, providing an extensive new look at the spy agencys technical capabilities. Among the tools uncovered is a worm that appears to have direct connections to Stuxnet, the digital weapon that was launched repeatedly against centrifuges in Iran beginning in late 2007 in order to sabotage them. In fact, researchers say the newly uncovered worm may have served as a kind of test run for Stuxnet, allowing the attackers to map a way to targeted machines in Iran that were air-gapped from the internet.

For nearly a year, the researchers have been gradually collecting components that belong to several highly sophisticated digital spy platforms that they say have been in use and development since 2001, possibly even as early as 1996, based on when some command servers for the malware were registered. They say the suite of surveillance platforms, which they call EquationLaser, EquationDrug and GrayFish, make this the most complex and sophisticated spy system uncovered to date, surpassing even the recently exposed Regin platform believed to have been created by Britains GCHQ spy agency and used to infiltrate computers belonging to the European Union and a Belgian telecom called Belgacom, among others.

The new platforms, which appear to have been developed in succession with each one surpassing the previous in sophistication, can give the attackers complete and persistent control of infected systems for years, allowing them to siphon data and monitor activities while using complex encryption schemes and other sophisticated methods to avoid detection. The platforms also include an innovative module, the likes of which Kaspersky has never seen before, that re-flashes or reprograms a hard drives firmware with malicious code to turn the computer into a slave of the attackers. The researchers, who gave WIRED an advance look at their findings and spoke about them today at the Kaspersky Security Analyst Summit in Mexico, have dubbed the attackers the Equation Group and consider them the most advanced threat actor theyve seen to date.

The researchers have published an initial paper on their findings and plan to publish more technical details over the next few days, but theres still a lot they dont know about the Equation Groups activities.

As we uncover more of these cyber espionage operations we realize how little we understand about the true capabilities of these threat actors, Costin Raiu, head of Kasperskys Global Research and Analysis Team told WIRED.

Although the researchers have no solid evidence that the NSA is behind the tools and decline to make any attribution to that effect, there is circumstantial evidence that points to this conclusion. A keywordGROKfound in a keylogger component appears in an NSA spy tool catalog leaked to journalists in 2013. The 53-page document detailswith pictures, diagrams and secret codenamesan array of complex devices and capabilities available to intelligence operatives. The capabilities of several tools in the catalog identified by the codenames UNITEDRAKE, STRAITBAZZARE, VALIDATOR and SLICKERVICAR appear to match the tools Kaspersky found. These codenames dont appear in the components from the Equation Group, but Kaspersky did find UR in EquationDrug, suggesting a possible connection to UNITEDRAKE (United Rake). Kaspersky also found other codenames in the components that arent in the NSA catalog but share the same naming conventionsthey include SKYHOOKCHOW, STEALTHFIGHTER, DRINKPARSLEY, STRAITACID, LUTEUSOBSTOS, STRAITSHOOTER, and DESERTWINTER.

Other evidence possibly pointing to the NSA is the fact that five victims in Iran who were infected with Equation Group components were also key victims of Stuxnet, which was reportedly created and launched by the U.S. and Israel.

Kaspersky wouldnt identify the Iranian victims hit by the Equation tools, but the five key Stuxnet victims have been previously identified as five companies in Iran, all contractors in the business of building and installing industrial control systems for various clients. Stuxnet targeted industrial control systems used to control centrifuges at a uranium-enrichment plant near Natanz, Iran. The companiesNeda Industrial Group, Kala Electric, Behpajooh, CGJ (believed to be Control Gostar Jahed) and Foolad Technicwere infected with Stuxnet in the hope that contractors would carry it into the enrichment plant on an infected USB stick. This link between the Equation Group and Stuxnet raises the possibility that the Equation tools were part of the Stuxnet attack, perhaps to gather intelligence for it.

But the newly uncovered worm created by the Equation Group, which the researchers are calling Fanny after the name of one of its files, has an equally intriguing connection to Stuxnet.

It uses two of the same zero-day exploits that Stuxnet used, including the infamous .LNK zero-day exploit that helped Stuxnet spread to air-gapped machines at Natanzmachines that arent connected to the internet. The .LNK exploit in Fanny has a dual purposeit allows attackers to send code to air-gapped machines via an infected USB stick but also lets them surreptitiously collect intelligence about these systems and transmit it back to the attackers. Fanny does this by storing the intelligence in a hidden file on the USB stick; when the stick is then inserted into a machine connected to the internet, the data intelligence gets transferred to the attackers. EquationDrug also makes use of the .LNK exploit. A component called SF loads it onto USB sticks along with a trojan to infect machines.

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Suite of Sophisticated Nation-State Attack Tools Found With Connection to Stuxnet

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Carnival Freedom to salute military during splashy entry near Houston

 Freedom  Comments Off on Carnival Freedom to salute military during splashy entry near Houston
Jan 222015

Country singer Martina McBride will kick off a Feb. 14 celebration to honor U.S. military families when the Carnival Freedom arrives at its new home port near Houston.

The Freedom will join two other Carnival ships, the Triumph and Magic, in Galveston next month. The three are expected to carry more than 600,000 passengers from Texas each year, a Carnival statement says.

Last April, Freedom underwent a $70-million upgrade to add the cruise line’s signature Funship 2.0 features.

The Valentine’s Day event will bring military families selected by the nonprofit organization Operation Homefront onto the ship while it’s in port to stay overnight, eat at on-board restaurants and take advantage of activities. McBride will sing at an outdoor concert held on one of the ship’s top decks.

Carnival also plans to donate $100,000 to the organization that gives financial and other help to military families in need.

But back to the ship.

The Freedom was in dry dock in the Bahamas from April 19 to May 3. The company added the first Dr. Seuss Bookville as part of its Seuss at Sea program. Children can read books and play games in Bookville as well as meet the Cat in the Hat at a Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast or watch a Seuss-a-palooza Character Parade.

Other upgrades include additional restaurants such as BlueIguana Cantina (Mexican), EA Sports Bar and a vintage cocktail bar called the Alchemy Bar.

The Freedom sets sail on a six-day cruise from Galveston to Mexico on Feb. 15. The ship then will sail on four- to seven-day cruises to the Caribbean, the Bahamas and Florida.

Info: Carnival Cruise Lines, (800) 227-6482

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Carnival Freedom to salute military during splashy entry near Houston

Elon Musk plans Seattle office for Mars colonization

 Mars Colonization  Comments Off on Elon Musk plans Seattle office for Mars colonization
Jan 152015

A SuperDraco engine. which Elon Musk’s SpaceX company says will provide its Dragon spacecraft with the capability to perform on target propulsive landings anywhere in the solar system–including Mars.(Photo: SpaceX)

SAN FRANCISCO — Billionaire Elon Musk wants humans to settle on Mars, and he’s looking to hire a passel of engineers in Seattle to help him get there.

Musk has publicly said he wants to colonize Mars. As the CEO of Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), he’s got a company to do it.

In an interview published Tuesday, Musk told Bloomberg News that SpaceX’s efforts to build a commercial satellite business will give the company the know-how and the infrastructure to make eventual Mars shots and a colony possible.


The cult of Elon Musk: Tesla founder comes to Detroit

While SpaceX’s headquarters are in Hawthorne, Calif., south of Los Angeles, the company is also beefing up its engineering offices in Seattle.

Musk predicted the office will eventually employ “several hundred people, maybe a thousand people.”

Washington governor Jay Inslee was practically giddy in a tweet about the possibility. “Welcome to WA, @SpaceX. We’re ready to support @elonmusk’s next revolutionary endeavor!”

Video Keywords flight controllers Guadalajara Pacific Ocean Hawthorne robotic arm Mediterranean West Coast robotics Mexico

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Elon Musk plans Seattle office for Mars colonization

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Pierre Teilhard De Chardin | Designer Children | Prometheism | Euvolution | Transhumanism