Notice — May 19, 2010 This article has been judged, by consensus of the Wikinews community, not to meet Wikinews standards of style and neutrality. Please see the relevant discussion for details. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Internet has already brought great things to the world, but has also brought spam, phishing, scamming, etc. We all have seen them across the Internet. They promise money, weight loss, or other things a person may strive for, but they usually amount to only a lighter pocket. Online advertising has become something that the increasingly Internet-reliant society has become used to, as well as more aware of. As this is true, online ads have become more intricate and deceptive in recent years.

However, a certain type of advertisement has arisen recently, and has become more deceptive than any other Internet ad, and has tricked many users into credit card charges. These sites claim to be news websites that preach a “miracle product”, and they offer a free trial, and then charge the user’s credit card a large amount of money without informing them after the trial ends. These sites appear to be operating under one venture and have caught ad pages of high-traffic websites by storm. In this report, Wikinews’ Tjc6 investigates news advertisement sites.

These Internet ads work in different ways:

Hypothetically speaking, a reader is browsing the web, and then happens to come across something that they believe is too good to be true. A link on one of these high-traffic pages promises white teeth, weight loss, or huge profits from working at home part-time. Out of curiosity, they click on the link.

This is the way that people are attracted to these fake news sites on the internet. The domain owners draw in customers by purchasing advertising on some of the World Wide Web’s most visited pages. Curious users click and are led to what they believe is a news article. From anti-aging to shedding weight, these “articles” from non-existant newspapers and television stations depict a skeptical news reporter trying a product because they were instructed to by a superior.

As the user reads on, they find that the “reporter” miraculously achieves significant weight loss, teeth whitening, or other general health and beauty improvement. The reporter states that the reader can get the same results as they did by using a “free trial” of the product.

Next, the user looks to the bottom of the page, where there seems to be a set of user comments, all of them praising the product or products that are advertised — this is where we first see something suspicious. Across several of these false articles, the comments appear to show the exact same text, sometimes with even the same usernames as other sites.

There is obviously some kind of correlation. Although this appears to be true, most users who purchase these products do not look at multiple versions of these similar pages of what appears to be a fast-growing network of interconnected fake news sites.

Once customers have convinced themselves into buying the product, they are led to a product (or products) website which promises a free trial for a very low price. What they do not know about this, however, is that they are giving their credit card data to a company that will charge it automatically after the trial ends. In about 14 days, the user receives a charge on their credit card for an excessive amount of money, usually from about $80 to $100 (USD). All attempts to contact these companies and cancel their shipments usually prove to be futile.

What these sites have is a large amount of legal copy located at the bottom of each site, stating their right to charge the user. This site, a fake news article claiming to offer teeth-whitening benefits, has several paragraphs of fine print, including this: “…Upon signing up for the 10 day trial membership you will be charged up to $4.97 depending on various shipping and initial offer promotions at that time but not more than $4.97 upon signing. If not cancelled, you will be charged $89.97 upon completion of the 10 day trial period. Monthly thereafter or 30 days from the original order date, the charge will reoccur monthly at a total of $89.97 until cancelled…,” the site says.

Practices like this have alerted the Better Business Bureau, an American organization that studies and reports on the reliability and practices of US businesses. In a press release, a spokesman from the BBB spoke out against sites like this. “Many businesses across the country are using the same selling model for their products: They lure customers in with claimed celebrity endorsements and free trial offers, and then lock them in by making it extremely difficult to cancel the automatic delivery of more products every month…,” said the report that denounced the websites.

When a user looks at several of these sites, they notice that all of them have the same exact structure. Because of this, Wikinews decided to look into where some of the domains were owned, and if they were all in fact part of one company.

However, the results that Wikinews found were ones that were not expected. Out of the three random websites that were found in Internet ads, all using similar designs and methods to attract the customers, came from three different locations in three countries and two separate continents. The first came from Scottsdale, in the United States, while the next two came from Vancouver and Hamburg. There is no location correlation, but surely, there has to be something that connected these sites together. We had to look even further to try to find a connection.

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There is some correlation within the product’s contact information. A large amount of the teeth-whitening products analyzed actually shared the same phone number, which lead to a distribution center located in St. Petersburg, Florida, and several other similar distribution centers located across the Southern United States. But, that explains only one of the categories of products that these websites cover, teeth whitening.

What about the other products? The other products such as weight loss and work-at-home kits all trace back to similar distribution centers in similar places. So, what do we make of all of this?

There is obviously some company that promotes these products through the fake news advertisements, but that company is nowhere to be found on the websites. All contact information is given on the product pages, and websites are copyrighted under the name of the domain, not a company. Whatever company has been the setup for these pages has been very good at hiding themselves from the Internet, as there is no information across the web about that mysterious large advertiser.

As a result of customers buying the products and having unauthorized charges on their credit cards, a large volume of complaints are currently present on awareness sites, complaint sites, and even the Better Business Bureau. Several customers point out that they were not informed of the steep charges and the company made it extremely difficult to cancel their subscription, usually resulting in the loss of several hundred dollars.

  • The trial offer was to pay for $3.95 for the cost of the shipping for one bottle. I noticed shortly after placing the order I had a charge on my credit card for $149.95. Unknown to myself the company charges for a membership if you don’t cancel within 14 days, I cancelled within 18 days…When I called the customer service number they told me the decision has been made and my refund request was denied. When I questioned the person on the other line about what I was getting for my $149.95 she told me I was not getting anything because I cancelled the membership.
?“Tamara”, in a post to the Ripoff Report
  • This is a “free sample” scam: Pay only postage and handling and get a free sample of a tooth whitening system, they say. I looked for the “catch,” something that would indicate that there’d be hidden or recurring charges, but didn’t see anything, and ordered. Sure enough, a couple of weeks later, I see a charge for $88.97 on my bank statement…When I called, the guy answering the phone had obviously answered the same angry question many, many times: “Why has your company charged $88.97 to my card?” “Because you didn’t cancel your subscription in time,” he said tiredly.
?“Elenor”, in a post to the Ripoff Report

One notable lawsuit has occurred as a result of these articles. Some of the articles about work at home kits specifically advertise things like “work for Google”, or “job openings at Google”. However, Google asserts these claims as false and has taken the case to court, as it is a copyright violation. “Thousands of people have been tricked into sending payment information and being charged hidden fees by questionable operations,” said Google in a statement.

The BBB has received over 3,000 complaints about products such as the ones that Google took offense to. The lawsuit has yet to begin in court, and no date has been set.

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=Wikinews_investigates:_Advertisements_disguised_as_news_articles_trick_unknowing_users_out_of_money,_credit_card_information&oldid=4510983”

Friday, July 1, 2011

Hundreds of thousands of British public sector workers went on strike across the country yesterday to protest planned changes to pensions. As industrial action swept the country, half of all schools were hit when teachers walked out, thousands of emergency service responders did not arrive at work, and there were warnings of immigration delays at Heathrow airport.

Police arrested 26 people as protesters picketed on a march in London, and riot police kettled demonstrators as clashes broke out. Reports vary, but it is thought that up to half of British state schools have been affected as employees did not turn up to work.

Mark Serwotka, the leader of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), said the strikes would serve as a “wake-up call” to the coalition government. “It’s a very, very clear signal to the government that they have been rumbled,” Serwotka said. “This is not about pensions, this is about making public sector workers pay for the economic problems, and we are determined to keep going until they change direction.”

Government officials condemned the strike and said the planned changes to pensions, which would see teachers work until age 68 and get less from their pensions, were “fair to taxpayers” as Britain attempts to deal with a large budget deficit. A spokesperson for Downing Street insisted the strike was having a “minimal” impact and said the turnout suggested many public sector workers supported the pension changes.

Christine Blower, the general secretary of one of the striking unions, the National Union of Teachers (NUT), said the strike demonstrated “the anger and distress that this government is causing teachers.” She said the “unjustified attacks” on the pensions of teachers “are nothing short of disgraceful.” Speaking on BBC television programme Question Time, she added: “Much of this has already been imposed on teachers without negotiation, and when we say there are talks going on it’s perfectly true that the government is talking but it isn’t actually listening.”

But despite government claims that the strike was having little impact, 5,679 schools were closed and another 4,999 were affected as teachers did not turn up for work. Michael Gove, the education secretary attacked the walkouts as “disappointing and unnecessary”. Thousands of staff handling emergency 999 calls also striked and pickets were held outside courts as members of the PCS walked out in protest.

This is not about pensions, this is about making public sector workers pay for the economic problems, and we are determined to keep going until they change direction.

Francis Maude, the cabinet office minister, also maintained that the strikes were wrong and said the low number of people walking out showed many supported the government’s plans. “What today has shown is that the vast majority of hard-working public sector employees do not support today’s premature strike and have come into work today,” he said.

Senior Labour party figures including Ed Miliband, Tessa Jowell and John Denham said the strikes were unjustified until negotiations with the government had concluded. Mary Bousted of the NUT criticised Labour’s lack of support for the striking workers: “The response of Ed Miliband has been a disgrace – he should be ashamed of himself. If our strike is a mistake, what has he done to oppose this devastating attack on our pensions? If the opposition will not defend our pensions, we will.”

A largely peaceful march by 30,000 protesters took place through London, and the atmosphere was reported to be largely peaceful, but Metropolitan Police officials said 26 people had been arrested. At a meeting in Westminister, many left wing figures attacked the government plans. Ken Livingstone, a former mayor of London who is running for the job again next year, said the coalition government had “mishandled” the issue of pensions. “The government must end its attacks and negotiate on the core issues under contention,” he added.

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=Hundreds_of_thousands_of_British_public_sector_workers_strike_over_planned_pension_changes&oldid=4577506”

Romanian tourism to be rebranded

Posted by: Adminin Uncategorized
21
Sep

Friday, May 6, 2005

Romania’s National Authority for Tourism (ANT) announced that they would promote tourism in Romania through a new branding strategy, in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development. The director of ANT, Marius Critonescu, said that the branding exercise will be “a significant component of the Romania’s development as a new tourist destination of international level.” He also added that the development of an integrated brand for Romanian tourism will promote a more positive image for the country, thereby increasing the number of tourists and investors. In recent times, there has been quite a lot of investment in “national branding”, especially in the field of tourism, as most marketing experts believe that branding for a product or a country is theoretically the same thing, and that the same strategies and approach should be used for both.

Concerning the Romanian tourism rebranding, international tourism and marketing expert James MacGregor stated that, “We have to touch the hearts and souls of the contemporary tourists who no longer travel for a simple beach or ski track. They want to live a self-knowledge experience that is truly uplifting and will leave unforgettable memories. The brand must show them not what they will see or do as tourists but what they will feel when visiting Romania.”

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=Romanian_tourism_to_be_rebranded&oldid=1884588”

Saturday, March 1, 2008

While nearly all coverage of the 2008 Presidential election has focused on the Democratic and Republican candidates, the race for the White House also includes independents and third party candidates. These parties represent a variety of views that may not be acknowledged by the major party platforms.

Wikinews has impartially reached out to these candidates, throughout the campaign. We now interview independent Presidential candidate Frank Moore, a performance artist.

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=Wikinews_interviews_Frank_Moore,_independent_candidate_for_US_President&oldid=2185149”

AIDS ‘super bug’ diagnosed in New York

Posted by: Adminin Uncategorized
15
Sep

Saturday, February 12, 2005

New York — A drug-resistant and quick-acting form of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, has been detected in New York City, according to officials.

Although diagnosed in only one man so far, this mutated version of the virus progresses to AIDS faster than other forms of HIV, officials said. Diagnosed with HIV in mid-October, the unnamed New York City man developed the full-blown form AIDS by mid-January. Normally HIV infection can take up to 10 years to develop into AIDS.

Dr. Ronald O. Valdiserri, the director of HIV/AIDS prevention at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), told the New York Times this new strain of virus is unique because of the rapid progression of the disease and its resistance to multiple AIDS drug regimens. Although the New York case appears to be isolated at this time, the CDC has sent a nation-wide alert to health departments in every state.

“It appears this individual has contracted a new, particularly virulent strain of HIV that swiftly advanced to AIDS in just a few short months,” Charles Farthing, MD, AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s Chief of Medicine said in a press release. “Unfortunately, it also seems that few of the AIDS treatments currently available today can be used in his case, as this particular strain of infection appears to be resistant to most known AIDS drugs.”

Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, urged all newly-diagnosed HIV patients to get tested to see if they have this new form of the virus. He also said all sexually active people should be tested for the HI virus.

New York health officials said they estimate that about 88,000 New Yorkers have HIV infection or AIDS and that an additional 20,000 are infected but unaware of their condition.

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=AIDS_%27super_bug%27_diagnosed_in_New_York&oldid=2262147”

Iranian President Ahmadinejad speaks at Columbia University

Posted by: Adminin Uncategorized
12
Sep

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Invited to participate in a debate at Columbia University during his visit to New York City this week to address the United Nations General Assembly, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad engaged University president Lee Bollinger on a number of topics, including his country’s human rights record, opinions on Israel and the Holocaust and the role of nuclear weapons and terrorism on the global stage. The Iranian president’s speech was marked by protests, but also drew applause from students.

Bollinger opened the debate addressing critics, stating that “To those who believe that this event should never have happened, that it is inappropriate for the university to conduct such an event, I want to say that I understand your perspective and respect it as reasonable…it is an experiment, as all life is an experiment. This is the right thing to do and indeed, it is required by the existing norms of free speech”

Bollinger then gave his opening address, turning to Ahmadinejad and stating:

Mr. President, you exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator, and so I ask you, why have women, members of the Bahá’í Faith, homosexuals and so many of our academic colleagues become targets of persecution in your country?”

“Why do you support well-documented terrorist organizations that continue to strike at peace and democracy in the Middle East, destroying lives and the civil society of the region? Frankly, and in all candor Mr. President, I doubt that you will have the intellectual courage to answer these questions, but your avoiding them will in itself be meaningful to us. I do expect you to exhibit the fanatical mind-set that characterizes what you say and do.

After reciting the Bismillah and asking for guidance from God, Ahmadinejad countered that “In Iran, tradition requires that when we invite a person to be a speaker, we actually respect our students and the professors by allowing them to make their own judgment and we don’t think it’s necessary before the speech is even given to come in with a series of claims…”

Ahmadinejad’s most pointed arguments, though, were directed at the administration of George W. Bush. “They do not respect the privacy of their own people. They tap telephone calls … They create an insecure psychological atmosphere, in order to justify their war-mongering acts in different parts of the world.”

The Iranian president attacked what he considered to be errors of American imperialism. “By using precise scientific methods and planning, they begin their onslaught on the domestic cultures of nations, which are the result of thousands of years of interaction, creativity and artistic activity. They try to eliminate these cultures in order to strip people of their identity.”

Ahmadinejad questioned U.S. nuclear policy. “Making nuclear, chemical and biological bombs and weapons of mass destruction is yet another result of the misuse of science and research by the big powers.” He added, “Without the cooperation of certain scientists and scholars, we would not have witnessed production of different nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Are these weapons to protect global security? What can a perpetual nuclear umbrella achieve for the sake of humanity? If nuclear war is waged between nuclear powers, what human catastrophe will take place?”

In a rebuttal to claims that his country oppressed women and homosexuals, Ahmadinejad responded by claiming “It is wrong for some governments, when they disagree with another government, to…spread lies”, pointing to the fact that over 50% of Iranian voters are female, and the two female Vice Presidents. When challenged by Bollinger for Iran’s treatment of gays he stated that “In Iran we don’t have homosexuals like in your country,” drawing laughter from the audience. “In Iran we do not have this phenomenon, I don’t know who has told you that we have it.”

He framed questioning of the Holocaust as stifled academic debate: “Right now, there are a number of European academics who have been sent to prison because they attempted to write about the Holocaust or research it from a different perspective, questioning certain aspects of it,” later adding that “you shouldn’t ask me why I’m asking questions, you should ask yourselves why you…want to stop. Do you ever take what is known as absolute in physics? We had principles in mathematics that were granted to be absolute for over 800 years, but new science has…gone forward.”

The first question from the audience addressed the controversial issue of the leader’s position on Israel. Ahmadinejad did not directly respond to the subject of Israel – stating “We love all nations. We love the Jewish people. There are many Jews living in Iran, with peace and security.”, and concluded that it was not a question of Israel’s right to exist, but of Palestinian self-determination.

Countering claims that his country supports terrorism, he replied, “We’re a cultured nation. We don’t need to resort to terrorism. We’ve been victims of terrorism ourselves. It’s regrettable that people who argued they are fighting terrorism — instead of supporting the Iranian nation — are supporting the terrorists and then turn the finger at us.”

The final question from the audience asked whether Iran would engage in talks with the United States, to which he replied “If the U.S. government recognizes the rights of the Iranian people, respects all nations and extends a hand of friendship to all Iranians, they will see that Iranians will be among their best friends.”

In closing, Ahmadinejad extended gratitude and thanks to the University, and welcomed both students and faculty to attend Iranian universities and give lectures themselves to the students.

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=Iranian_President_Ahmadinejad_speaks_at_Columbia_University&oldid=4579203”

Wikinews’ overview of the year 2007

Posted by: Adminin Uncategorized
7
Sep

Monday, December 31, 2007

What would you tell your grandchildren about 2007 if they asked you about it in, let’s say, 20 year’s time? If the answer to a quiz question was 2007, what would the question be? The year that you first signed on to Facebook? The year Britney Spears and Amy Winehouse fell apart? The year author Kurt Vonnegut or mime Marcel Marceau died, both at 84?

Let’s take a look at some of the international stories of 2007. Links to the original Wikinews articles are in bold.

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=Wikinews%27_overview_of_the_year_2007&oldid=1982734”

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The US Secret Service has released the first photos Wednesday of the new presidential limousine that will transport Barack Obama down Pennsylvania Avenue next Tuesday as part of the 56th Presidential inaugural parade after he is sworn in at the Capitol. The First Limo – the 2009 Cadillac Presidential Limousine – will replace President Bush’s Cadillac DTS Presidential Limousine that rolled out in 2004.

Nicknamed “The Beast”, the hulking machine is a new model year 2009, modified limousine. According to General Motors, the new “2009 Cadillac Presidential Limousine” is the first not to carry a specific model name. The Obama Mobile was introduced on January 14 with noticeably different styling borrowed from the Cadillac Escalade and STS, while the suspension is most likely related to the Chevrolet Kodiak medium-duty truck.

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Mr. David Caldwell of General Motors has revealed that the sleek black car would include a hand-crafted interior and “state of the art electronics.” The car’s high-tech security features include five-inch-thick (12.7-centimeter-thick) bombproof glass, tough-as-nails tires, and a sealed interior that’s invulnerable to chemical attack. The armoured limousine has been heavily modified to withstand potential attacks by weapons or bombs. The San Francisco Chronicle puts it in a proper perspective noting, “a half-inch of transparent armor is enough to stop a .44 Magnum round at point-blank range; at a thickness of 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches, the same material can withstand higher-velocity bullets fired from military assault rifles.”

According to spy photographer, Brenda Priddy, and General Motors, the limousine, which has the intricate, dual-textured grille, is also equipped with standard Goodyear Regional RHS truck tires in a 285/70R19.5 size, on 19.5-inch wheels. The rims have a run-flat device (manufactured by Hutchinson Industries). Xenon headlights from the Escalade are installed in the front, while the rear has some STS part. The doors are at least 20 centimeters (8 inches) thick. It carries the US flag on the front fenders and an embroidered Seal of the President of the United States is affixed to several panels in the back.

According to the US Secret Service, the vehicle would be a “valuable asset” in providing the President with the highest level of protection. “Although many of the vehicle’s security enhancements cannot be discussed, it is safe to say that this car’s security and coded communications systems make it the most technologically advanced protection vehicle in the world,” Nicholas Trotta, Assistant Director for the Office of Protective Operations said in a statement. The new limousine is the responsibility of White House Transportation Agency.

One of the specifications is that we don’t talk about the specifications.

The Presidential State Car is the official state car used by the President of the United States. It is informally known as “Cadillac One”. The current Presidential State Car is a 2005 hand-crafted, armored, and stretched DTS (DeVille Touring Sedan) built on a GM four-wheel drive platform. It was first used on the second inauguration parade of George W. Bush in 2005. But the version to be used by President Obama uses a GMC Topkick chassis, while maintaining the Cadillac exterior.

The President of the United States travels in one of two armoured Cadillac limousines based upon the normal sedan, the Cadillac DTS, with heavy customisation. Lincoln cars have also been used in the past, most notably by President John F Kennedy. The current limousines were custom-built by O’Gara, Hess and Eisenhart, founded in Fairfield, Ohio in 1942. It specializes in armouring limousines for presidents and heads of state.

President William McKinley was the first US president to ride in an automobile. However, it was President Theodore Roosevelt who rode on the first government-owned car, a white Stanley Steamer. Roosevelt’s successor, William Howard Taft, was the first president to use a presidential state car that was permanently stored in the White House garage.

Meanwhile, Obama’s 2005 Chrysler 300C Hemi was auctioned on eBay with a starting bid of $100,000 and a buy-it-now price of $1,000,000. It has less than 21,000 miles on it and is in like-new condition. He leased the car in 2004 and traded it for a Ford Escape Hybrid in 2007. The car was sold to Tim O’Boyle.

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=Cadillac_unveils_Obama%27s_%27Beast%27,_the_2009_Presidential_State_Car&oldid=1131951”

Thursday, April 3, 2008

A reporter from Wikinews recently interviewed Jim Babka, chair of Libertarian organization Downsize DC. The organization claims to have arranged for 22,158 people to send a message regarding the “American Freedom Agenda Act” proposed by Ron Paul, in addition to supporting many other laws. The full text of the interview can be found below.

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=Wikinews_interviews_Jim_Babka,_chair_of_Libertarian_organization_Downsize_DC&oldid=4467224”
See the discussion page for instructions on adding schools to this list.Tuesday, September 13, 2005

NAICU has created a list of colleges and universities accepting and/or offering assistance to displace faculty members. [1]Wednesday, September 7, 2005

This list is taken from Colleges offering admission to displaced New Orleans students, and is intended to make searching easier for faculty, graduate, and professional students.

In addition to the list below, the Association of American Law Schools has compiled a list of law schools offering assistance to displaced students. [2] As conditions vary by college, interested parties should contact the Office of Admissions at the school in question for specific requirements and up-to-date details.

The Association of American Medical Colleges is coordinating alternatives for medical students and residents displaced by Hurricane Katrina. [3]

ResCross.net is acting as a central interactive hub for establishing research support in times of emergency. With so many scientists affected by Hurricane Katrina, ResCross is currently focused on providing information to identify sources of emergency support as quickly as possible. [4]

With so many scientists affected by Hurricane Katrina, ResCross is currently focused on providing information to identify sources of emergency support as quickly as possible.

Physics undergraduates, grad students, faculty and high school teachers can be matched up with housing and jobs at universities, schools and industry. [5] From the American Association of Physics Teachers, the Society of Physics Students, the American Institute of Physics and the American Physical Society.

If you are seeking or providing assistance, please use this site to find information on research support, available lab space/supplies, resources, guidelines and most importantly to communicate with fellow researchers.

The following is a partial list, sorted by location.

Alabama |Alaska |Arizona |Arkansas |California |Colorado |Connecticut |Delaware |District of Columbia |Florida |Georgia |Hawaii |Idaho |Illinois |Indiana |Iowa |Kansas |Kentucky |Louisiana |Maine |Maryland |Massachusetts |Michigan |Minnesota |Mississippi |Missouri |Montana |Nebraska |Nevada |New Hampshire |New Jersey |New Mexico |New York |North Carolina |North Dakota |Ohio |Oklahoma |Oregon |Pennsylvania |Rhode Island |South Carolina |South Dakota |Tennessee |Texas |Utah |Vermont |Virginia |Washington |West Virginia |Wisconsin |Wyoming |Canada