US allies’ government officials hacked via Facebook’s WhatsApp

Victims are spread across at least 20 countries on five continents, sources close to the investigation told Reuters.

WhatsApp says a vulnerability in the app let phones be infected with spyware with a missed in-app call alone [Patrick Sison/AP]

WhatsApp says a vulnerability in the app let phones be infected with spyware with a missed in-app call alone [Patrick Sison/AP]

Senior government officials in multiple countries allied with the United States were hit earlier this year with hacking software that used Facebook Inc’s WhatsApp messaging system to take over users’ phones, according to people familiar with the company’s investigation.

Sources familiar with WhatsApp’s internal investigation into the breach told the Reuters news agency that a “significant” portion of the known victims are high-profile government and military officials spread across at least 20 countries on five continents.


Many of the nations are US allies, the people said.

The hacking of a wider group of top government officials’ smartphones than previously reported suggests the WhatsApp cyber-intrusion could have broad political and diplomatic consequences.

Israeli surveillance firm NSO Group was the target of a lawsuit filed by WhatsApp on Tuesday. The Facebook-owned firm alleged that NSO Group built and sold a hacking platform that exploited a flaw in WhatsApp-owned servers to help clients hack into the mobile phones of at least 1,400 users between April 29, 2019, and May 10, 2019.

The total number of WhatsApp users hacked could be even higher. A London-based human rights lawyer, who was among the targets, sent Reuters photographs showing attempts to break into his phone dating back to April 1.

While it is not clear who used the software to hack officials’ phones, NSO has said it sells its spyware exclusively to government customers.

Some victims are in the US, United Arab EmiratesBahrainMexicoPakistan and India, said people familiar with the investigation. Reuters could not verify whether the government officials were from those countries or elsewhere.

Some Indian nationals have gone public with allegations they were among the targets over the past couple of days; they include journalists, academics, lawyers and defenders of India’s Dalit community.

NSO said in a statement that it was “not able to disclose who is or is not a client or discuss specific uses of its technology.” Previously it has denied any wrongdoing, saying its products are only meant to help governments catch groups involved in violent campaigns and criminals.

Cybersecurity researchers have cast doubt on those claims over the years, saying NSO products were used against a wide range of targets, including protesters in countries under authoritarian rule.

Citizen Lab, an independent watchdog group that worked with WhatsApp to identify the hacking targets, said on Tuesday at least 100 of the victims were civil society figures such as journalists and dissidents, not criminals.

John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at Citizen Lab, said it was not surprising that foreign officials would be singled out as well.

“It is an open secret that many technologies branded for law enforcement investigations are used for state-on-state and political espionage,” Scott-Railton said.

Prior to notifying victims, WhatsApp checked the target list against existing law enforcement requests for information relating to criminal investigations, such as violent campaigns or child exploitation cases. But the company found no overlap, said a person familiar with the matter. Governments can submit such requests for information to WhatsApp through an online portal the company maintains.

WhatsApp has said it sent warning notifications to affected users earlier this week. The company has declined to comment on the identities of NSO Group’s clients, who ultimately chose the targets.


Boston Medical Center Nurse Denied Life Insurance Because She Carries Naloxone

Isela was denied life insurance because her medication list showed a prescription for the opioid-reversal drug naloxone. The Boston Medical Center nurse says she wants to have the drug on hand so she can save others.

Bloodwork was supposed to be the last step in Isela’s application for life insurance. But when she arrived at the lab, her appointment had been canceled.

“That was my first warning,” Isela says. She contacted her insurance agent and was told her application was denied because something on her medication list indicated that Isela uses drugs. Isela, a registered nurse who works in an addiction treatment program at Boston Medical Center, scanned her med list. It showed a prescription for the opioid-reversal drug naloxone — brand name Narcan.

“But I’m a nurse, I use it to help people,” Isela remembers telling her agent. “If there is an overdose, I could save their life.”

That’s a message public health leaders aim to spread far and wide. “BE PREPARED. GET NALOXONE. SAVE A LIFE,” was the message at the top of a summary advisory from the U.S. surgeon general in April.

But some life insurers consider the use of prescription drugs when reviewing policy applicants. And it can be difficult, some say, to tell the difference between someone who carries naloxone to save others and someone who carries naloxone because they are at risk for an overdose.

Primerica is the insurer Isela says turned her down. (NPR has agreed to use just Isela’s first name because she is worried about how this story might affect her ongoing ability to get life insurance.) The company says it can’t discuss individual cases. But in a prepared statement, Primerica notes that naloxone has become increasingly available over the counter.

“Now, if a life insurance applicant has a prescription for naloxone, we request more information about its intended use as part of our underwriting process,” says Keith Hancock, the vice president for corporate communications. “Primerica is supportive of efforts to help turn the tide on the national opioid epidemic.”

After Primerica turned her down, Isela applied to a second life insurer and was again denied coverage. But the second company told her it might reconsider if she obtained a letter from her doctor explaining why she needs naloxone. So, Isela did contact her primary care physician — and then realized that her doctor had not prescribed the drug.

Isela had bought naloxone at a pharmacy. To help reduce overdose deaths, Massachusetts and many other states have established a standing order for naloxone — one prescription that works for everybody. Isela couldn’t just give her insurer that statewide prescription; she had to find the doctor who signed it. As it happens, that physician — Dr. Alex Walley — also works at Boston Medical Center.

Walley is an associate professor of medicine at Boston University; he also works in addiction medicine at Boston Medical Center and is the medical director for the Opioid Overdose Prevention Pilot Program at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

“We want naloxone to be available to a wide group of people — people who have an opioid use disorder themselves, but also [those in] their social networks and other people in a position to rescue them,” Walley says.

He says he’s written a half dozen letters for other BMC employees denied life or disability insurance because of naloxone, and that troubles him.

“My biggest concern is that people will be discouraged by this from going to get a naloxone rescue kit at the pharmacy,” Walley says. “So this has been frustrating.”

The life insurance hassle — and threat of being turned to down — has discouraged Isela and some of her fellow nurses. She is not carrying a naloxone kit outside the hospital right now because she doesn’t want it to show up on her active medication list until the life insurance problem is sorted out.

“So if something were to happen on the street, I don’t have one — just because I didn’t want another conflict,” Isela said.

BMC has alerted the state’s Division of Insurance, which has said in a written response that it is reviewing the cases and drafting guidelines for “the reasonable use of drug history information in determining whether to issue a life insurance policy.”

But Isela isn’t a drug user. And yet, she is being penalized as if she were.

Michael Botticelli, who runs the Grayken Center for Addiction Medicine at BMC, says friends and family members of patients with an addiction must be able to carry naloxone without fear that doing so will send them to the insurance reject pile.

“It’s incumbent on all of us to make sure that we try to kind of nip this in the bud,” he says, “before it is any more wide-scale.”

Botticelli says increased access to naloxone across Massachusetts is one of the main reasons overdose deaths are down in the state. The most recent state report shows 20 fewer fatalities this year compared to last.

Botticelli relayed his concerns in a letter to Dr. Jerome Adams, the U.S. surgeon general, who says he contacted the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. That group says it has not heard of any cases of life insurance applicants being denied because they purchased naloxone.

Adams says it’s good to, as Botticelli suggests, nip the problem in the bud.

“Naloxone saves lives,” Adams says, “and it is important that all Americans know about the vital role bystanders can play in preventing opioid overdose deaths when equipped with this lifesaving medication.”

Isela says the second company that rejected her has agreed to let her reapply, in light of Walley’s letter stating that she carries the drug so that she can reverse an overdose. Isela is in the process of reapplying.

This story is part of a reporting partnership with NPR, WBUR and Kaiser Health News.

Political Brew: Running out the clock on Medicaid in Maine

A judge has ordered the LePage administration to adopt rules for Medicaid expansion by December 5th. But our NEWS CENTER Maine political analysts think it may not happen on Gov. Paul LePage’s watch.

(NEWS CENTER Maine) — A judge has ordered the LePage administration to adopt rules for Medicaid expansion by December 5th. But our NEWS CENTER Maine political analysts think it may not happen on Gov. Paul LePage’s watch.

Former Republican state senator Phil Harriman says LePage has made it clear he is holding out for a sustainable funding plan from the legislature, but the court did not buy that reasoning for delaying the expansion. Harriman says because LePage is appealing the latest ruling “I suspect the clock will run out without him kicking the football.”

Democrat John Richardson, a former Speaker of the House, says “It’s sad that the governor will whimper out of office, basically opposing the will, not just of the people, but the courts. That’s a sad legacy for the governor.”

Our analysts also discuss President Trump’s dismissal of U.S. intelligence that indicates the Saudi Arabian Crown Prince was behind the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Harriman and Richardson say there should be a place between cutting ties with Saudi Arabia and doing nothing to send a message.

Harriman says “For our country not to take action I think is a mistake.”

And Richardson says “We have been a moral beacon for a long time. If we don’t speak up and condemn this kind of murder of a member of the press, then we are no better than many rogue nations.” He adds, “We could have suspended arms sales, we could have really rebuked the Saudi government… We should have, but unfortunately (Trump) put money ahead of what I consider freedoms that are more important issues.”

They also say President Trump is wrong to attack the judiciary, as he did this week when he called a judge who blocked the administration ban on asylum for people who cross the border illegally “an Obama judge.” Chief Justice John Roberts rebuked the president, saying our “independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for.”

John Richardson says “The president he’s dead wrong on this. The independent judiciary is so important to democracy, so important to this nation… and I don’t blame Justice Roberts, a Republican nominee, for speaking up for the judiciary.”

And Phil Harriman adds “I complement Judge Roberts for standing up for the judiciary system from the very top.”

Political Brew airs Sundays on the Morning Report.

Cards against Humanity: 99% Off Sale!


Today is Black Friday, Cards Against Humanity’s favorite holiday. This year, we want to remind everyone of the reason for the season: deals.

Holy fuck have we got some deals. Every ten minutes, a new deal will go live on this page. Don’t be frightened by the deals. Just click and let the savings wash over you.

As the ancient Mayans foretold, a savings event of this magnitude only occurs once every thousand years. Act now while supplies last.

20-foot Yurt

20-foot Yurt

  • 336 sq. ft. with room for up to 15 generals and scribes.
  • Complex and arduous assembly required.
  • Only for serious yurt people.
  • Flammable.


All-New Absurd Box

  • We took peyote and wrote this.
  • 300 brand-new cards.
  • Pretty good.


Absurd Box spread #3

$20 Bill

  • A $20 value!
  • Legal tender for all debts public and private!
  • An unbelievable $19.80 in savings!
  • Stay tuned for more incredible deals!

85-inch Sony 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV

  • Very big.
  • Many pixels.
  • Lots of colors.
  • Entertainment.

17th Century Italian Halberd

  • Unique item.
  • 8 feet long.
  • 20% chance to cast Frost Nova.
  • This is an actual Renaissance polearm, it’s totally badass.

Life-Size Orlando Bloom Cut-Out

  • It’s Legolas!
  • There are worse actors.
  • Still pretty hot.
  • Google-Image “orlando bloom penis.”
2015 Red Ford Fiesta (25k miles)

2015 Red Ford Fiesta (25k miles)

  • That’s right. It’s a motherfucking car.
  • This car’s got it all–seats, wheels, cupholders, you name it.
  • Drive it to work, or just make it go “beep beep!”
  • No road crimes, please.

Presidential Mahogany Casket

  • Brand new, unused.
  • Almond velvet interior.
  • Protect your lifeless body from microbes and insects.

1.5 Carat Lab-Grown Diamond Engagement Ring

  • Like it? Put a ring on it.
  • Propose in public. Make a whole scene.
  • 50% of marriages end in divorce.
  • Free returns!

Poncho Toilet

  • It’s a poncho you can poop in.
  • Avoid long bathroom lines.
  • Includes 1 poo bag, 1 pee bag, and 2 cloth wipes.
  • Perfect gift for gamers.

$800 Applebee’s Gift Card

  • Attractive rectangular shape.
  • Glossy finish.
  • Multiple colors.
  • Fits in your wallet.

Original Picasso Lithograph

  • Original 11″x15″ signed by Picasso.
  • Supposedly depicts his friend, Jean Cocteau.
  • It’s a Picasso.

Bill Pullman’s Actual Flight Suit from Independence Day

  • We will not go quietly into the night!
  • We will not vanish without a fight!
  • We’re going to live on!
  • We’re going to survive!
  • Today, we celebrate our Independence Day!

Portable Sauna

  • Your personal paradise.
  • Gentle infrared heat rays open your pores and promote sweating.
  • Just look at it!
  • Probably a fire hazard.

Portable Hair Dryer Bonnet Attachment

  • It’s finally here.
  • Safe, lightweight, comfortable, and convenient.
  • Take your hair on a journey from wet to dry.
  • Hair dryer not included.

$100 Bill

  • A $100 value!
  • Legal tender for all debts public and private!
  • A once-in-a-lifetime $99.00 in savings!
  • As big as money as goes!

“Big Bertha” Arcade Game

  • Feed Big Bertha.
  • Throw the balls into Bertha’s mouth.
  • She’s really hungry.
  • Hurry.

LELO “Olga” 24-Karat Gold Dildo

  • Pleasure fit for a queen.
  • Pointed tip for deep satisfaction, flattened tip for G-spot and clitoral stimulation.
  • Hand wash only.

5-day Vacation to Fiji for Two

  • What a great idea.
  • You deserve it.
  • Long plane ride.
  • Come to Fiji.

Costco 50-lb Wheel of Pecorino Romano Cheese

  • Pungent.
  • Italian.
  • Too much.
  • Warning: contains dairy.

Bowflex Revolution Home Gym

  • SpiraFlex® Technology designed for NASA.
  • Over 100 exercises with up to 400 variations.
  • Join the revolution!
  • You have nothing to lose but your chains.

Gucci Princetown Goat Hair Slides

  • Oh my god.
  • US Size 7-B.

500 Pounds of Dry Garbanzo Beans

  • High in protein.
  • Probably a superfood.
  • Hope you’re hungry!

Bust of Former President Barack Obama

  • Life-size.
  • Looks just like Barack Obama.
  • Ask him for advice or absorb his noble silence.
  • No nipples, sorry.
Alchemical Rainbow Crystal Harp with Silver Ions

Alchemical Rainbow Crystal Harp with Silver Ions

  • Escape the illusion of linear time.
  • Reunfiy your lower vibrational consciousness with your multidimensional self.
  • Ascend in the crystalline beingness of the Solar Cosmic Christ.

Eight Foot Gummy Python

  • Weighs 27 pounds.
  • Longest recorded gummy snake.
  • Sticky.
  • Guaranteed diarrhea.

La-Z-Boy PowerRecline XR

  • You know this one.
  • Big chair.

Double-Decker Cat Stroller

  • When a single decker cat stroller isn’t enough.
  • Take your cats to the park or to visit your son in prison.
  • Cats not included.

Herbeau “Dagobert” Toilet Throne

  • Ash wood exterior.
  • Exquisite hand-painted porcelain.
  • Take a crap like a Hapsburg prince.
  • Ring a bell when you’re done.

GERi Nursing Skills Geriatric Medical Doll

  • Interchangeable female and uncircumcised male genitalia
  • Intramuscular injection sites at arm, thigh, and buttock
  • Great for dinner parties!

40-Inch Disco Ball

  • Big.
  • Shiny.
  • Spherical.
  • Really fucking big.

Rejuvenique Facial Toning Mask

  • Something to do with skincare?
  • I think it electrocutes your face.
  • I don’t know what it does, actually.
  • Please be careful.

Tremendous Inflatable Eagle

  • Absolute unit.
  • This eagle is going to be a problem for you if you buy it.

Signed “Mean Girls” Poster

  • We were told Rachel McAdams signed this through her car window while leaving Jimmy Kimmel Live, Amanda Seyfried signed it at an Italian restaurant, and Lindsay Lohan signed at a radio station.
  • It’s from eBay.

September 11th Commemorative Coin

  • One ounce of 99.9% pure silver.
  • Support our troops.
  • Never forget.
  • Don’t let the terrorists win.

19th Century Butter Churn

  • Life on the prairie is simple, but honest.
  • Typhoid took little Eustace this autumn past.
  • Pa said he’ll break out the fiddle after supper.
  • Back to work, Joseph. Winter won’t be long now.

Dan Aykroyd’s Cone Head from the Movie “Coneheads”

  • The titular cone from the eponymous head.
  • Actually worn by Dan Aykroyd in “Coneheads”
  • Disgusting.
  • Gnarfel the Garthok in style.

Fist-Sized Emerald

  • The size of a fist!
  • Over 2,500 carats.
  • Polish it endlessly.
  • Jealously guard it like a dragon.
  • Throw it into a pond or something.

Guitar Signed By Jimmy Carter

  • Make up your own story for why Jimmy Carter signed this guitar.

Inflatable Bubble Camping Tent

  • Post it on Instagram. Make your life look better than it really is.
  • Extremely loud pump included.
  • Could you suffocate in this thing?
  • We have substantial concerns regarding the quality of this product.

600 Live Ants

  • 700 ants? Too many.
  • 500 ants? Not enough.
  • 600? Just the right number of ants.

Hot Dog Cart

  • Live the American Dream. Own a small business.
  • Classic chrome exterior with iconic umbrella.
  • Does not include hot dogs or condiments.

Pirate Ship Adventure Party Bounce House

  • It’s a bounce house!
  • Bounce up and down.
  • Turn your backyard into a deadly carnival.
  • Great for your weekend with the kids.
Emperor Workstation

Emperor Workstation

  • Overwhelm your senses.
  • Alienate your family.
  • You’ve been in this chair your entire life.

“King of the Jungle” Lion Mask

  • Hand-made in the Netherlands.
  • Resembles a lion.

Hot Dog Cart

  • Live the American Dream. Own a small business.
  • Classic chrome exterior with iconic umbrella.
  • Does not include hot dogs or condiments.

Pirate Ship Adventure Party Bounce House

  • It’s a bounce house!
  • Bounce up and down.
  • Turn your backyard into a deadly carnival.
  • Great for your weekend with the kids.

Signed Photograph of Richard Nixon

  • Features 37th president and total dreamboat, Richard Nixon.
  • Did you know that Richard Nixon founded the EPA?
  • America’s original daddy!

8-foot Statue of Anubis, Egyptian God of the Dead

  • Bow before me or suffer my wrath!
  • Enjoy my sturdy fiber-glass construction!
  • Gaze upon my staff of power!
  • Don’t tip me over.
Honeywell Survivair 777777

Honeywell Survivair 777777

  • Features low-pressure aluminum puma facepiece with 2,216 PSIG.
  • Not for use in outer space.
  • You might not need this now, but you will some day.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What the fuck is going on?

    To celebrate this season of incredible Black Friday deals, Cards Against Humanity is offering a dazzling array of consumer products for 99% off.

  • Is this real?

    Yes. All of these products are actually available for 99% off, and if you purchase something we will actually ship it to you.

  • But the deals seem too good to be true!

    We’ve chosen to make them true. That’s the miracle of Black Friday.

  • Can the global financial system handle these deals?

    Most economic indicators suggest “no.”

  • Surely you must be losing a lot of money on this promotion.

    Oh dear yes. This is a financial catastrophe for our company.

  • How were the products on this page selected?

    Our team of experts spent over 500 hours researching the highest-rated consumer goods and exclusive collectable items. Every item was plotted on a six-dimensional chart of desirability, style, functionality, value, charisma, and je ne sais quoi.

  • What’s the Absurd Box?

    The Absurd Box is Cards Against Humanity’s brand new 300-card expansion. While it normally retails for $2,000 USD, today it’s available for 99% off.

  • I tried to get in on a deal but it sold out!

    You have no one to blame but yourself.

  • I thought you were a potato chip company now.

    Yeah, that didn’t work out. We did a 360 pivot.

  • What’s your strategy here?

    We might be losing a little money now, but in the long run, we hope to make it up in volume. We like to think we’re following in the footsteps of our hero, Jeff Bezos.

  • Is there any language that your lawyers demanded you paste onto this website?


    All items are sold “as-is.” If your item doesn’t arrive, or is damaged in transit to you, or you are otherwise unhappy with the purchase, you are eligible for a refund of up to a maximum of the purchase price you paid (plus applicable sales tax). No exchanges will be made. All items except the Absurd Box are available only in the US. It is your responsibility to ascertain and obey all applicable local, state, federal, and international laws (including minimum age requirements) in regards to the possession, use, and sale of any item purchased from this site. By placing an order, you represent that the products ordered will be used only in a lawful manner.

New Study puts Maine at Number Four in the Nation in Emergency Room Visits per Capita.

(NEWS CENTER Maine) — A new study puts Maine at number four in the country in emergency room visits per capita. A study conducted by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation collected data for community hospitals, representing 85% of all hospitals between the years 2012 and 2016. Not included in the study Federal hospitals, long term care hospitals, psychiatric hospitals and others, according to the study.

The top area listed for ER visits per 1,000 people is Washington D.C. The nation’s capital has the highest percentage due, in part to the increase in crime around the area, according to the website MedicareHealthPlans.

The States with the Most ER Visits

  1. Washington D-C
  2. West Virginia
  3. Mississippi
  4. Maine
  5. Ohio
Maine Hospital Emergency Room Visits per 1,000 People
2016 489 440
2015 725 441
2014 580 428
2013 599 423
2012 595 424

Northern Lights Eastern Maine Medical center says the amount of Emergency Department visitors is similar to the study’s timeframe. Dr. James Jarvis, Sr. Vice President and Sr. Physician Executive, and Dr. Michael Melia, Chief of Emergency Medicine, say there are multiple factors landing Maine in the top 5, but EMMC is actually seeing sicker patients arrive in our emergency department than we would in other parts of the country.

“We are, if not close to the oldest state in the nation, so that already brings unique challenges to us,” said Dr. Jarvis. “We are an underinsured state. The decision was made not to expand Medicaid in the state of Maine. In fact, we actually contracted the number of patients that are covered under Medicaid that would leave us with a number of patients that is either under or uninsured in our state.”

““There is more rural medicine in Maine then if you were in New York City,” said Dr. Melia. “Some people are going to seek care for acute things as opposed to going on long trips to go see a doctor for routine medicine.”

Dr. Jarvis says it is easier for patients to get to the ER than a primary care doctor. Many patients have transportation issues to get to proper care.

“It is easier to call 911 and have an ambulance come to your house than it is to get a taxi cab, a friend or a relative or Uber to come to your house,” said Dr. Jarvis. “For some people it winds up for them being cheaper and they are going to get taken to an emergency room and not a doctor’s office.”

Another concern is what the hospital calls ‘super utilizers.’ Patients that continuously frequent the Emergency Department.

“We do have certain individuals who will seek care at the emergency department hundreds of times a year and that certainly taxes the system,” said Dr. Melia. “We try and put resources for those individuals to find out why are they super utilizers and what resources are necessary in order to keep them away from the ED and get them the care they needed.”

Abortion protesters return to Portland, Maine after court rules against them

PORTLAND, Maine — The protesters outside Portland’s Planned Parenthood clinic weren’t screaming Friday morning, but not because of a court order.

It was the first of the regularly scheduled anti-abortion demonstrations since a federal judge ruled that police may again enforce Maine’s noise ordinance against protesters outside the women’s health center. And the activists kept their admonitions to a low shout despite the decision not yet being in effect.

On Tuesday, the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court ruling, finding that police can enforce the noise section of the Maine Civil Rights Act against the protesters because, as written, the law is message neutral.

The ruling is the latest step in a legal drama that started in 2015 and could now be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, the issue at hand being whether or not the First Amendment gives protesters the right to scream epithets such as “Murderer!” and “Whore!” at patients entering the clinic, of course, in the name of Jesus.



Vetoes, bonds and late LePage surprises

The Legislature is back in Augusta on Wednesday for what’s set to be the last official day of the 2017 session.

They’re mostly back to vote on overriding 27 vetoes from Gov. Paul LePage, including bills that would set long-term solar policy, increase Maine’s tobacco-buying age to 21 and prohibit handheld cellphone use while driving.