The Consumer Vision

March/April 2009

Publisher, Bob Branco

Editor, Janet Marcley

Treasurer, Gail Teixeira

Braille Production, Perkins Braille and Talking Book Library CD Production, Bob Zeida

Cassette Reader, Gail Teixeira

Cassette Duplication, Jerry Arsenault

Print Production, Alpha Graphics

E-Mail Production, Bob Branco and Janet Marcley

Marketing Representative, Marci Tamez

Advisory Committee: Clem Beaulieu, Lisa Cabral, Lauren Casey, Dan Germano, Marianne Martin, Bonnie Schachter and Gail Teixeira

If you would like to subscribe to the Consumer Vision six times a year, please email bobbranco93@gmail.com or call our office at 508-994-4972, and we will discuss which format you want to receive. The Consumer Vision is available in print, Braille, cassette, CD and e-mail.

"The Consumer Vision" is a publication of the Association of Blind Citizens, an organization providing opportunities and goals for blind consumers who strive to lead productive lives.

MARKETPLACE, compiled by John Oliveira

RESOURCE CENTER FOR PARENTS WITH DISABILITIES

BRAILLER REPAIR

FREQUENTLY OVERLOOKED TAX CREDIT

NEW ROWLING BOOK IN BRAILLE

FREE PROSTATE BOOKLET

TREKKER BREEZE AVAILABLE

RECORDING SERVICE AVAILABLE

TUTORING FOR THE BLIND

ON THE WEB ANYWHERE

ASSOCIATED SERVICES FOR THE BLIND

March Madness

Artificial Eyesight

Does Everything Happen Because of a Disability?

We Need Our Police Force and Fire Fighters

Lauren's Dream

"PROFILE IN INCOMPETENCE"

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

DONATING YOUR BODY TO SCIENCE

THE CONSUMER VISION TRIVIA CONTEST

MARKETPLACE, compiled by John Oliveira

The announcement of new products and services in this column should not be considered endorsements of those products and services by the Association of Blind Citizens, its staff or officials. Products and services are listed free of charge for the benefit of our readers. "The Consumer Vision" cannot be responsible for the reliability of products or services mentioned.

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RESOURCE CENTER FOR PARENTS WITH DISABILITIES

A new National Center for Parents with Disabilities and their Families has been established in Berkeley, Calif., under the auspices of Through the Looking Glass, a non-profit organization founded in 1982. The center will oversee several national research studies concerning parents with disabilities and their families, as well as provide consultations, training and publications to parents, family members and professionals. The new center will focus its research and resource activities on four critical areas that impact parents with disabilities: custody; family roles and personal assistance; paratransit; and intervention with parents with cognitive disabilities and their children. One of the notable activities planned over the next three years is a scholarship program for high school seniors and college students whose parents have disabilities. The center will be staffed by nationally recognized experts regarding parents with disabilities, most of whom have personal or family experience with visual disability or deafness. More information is available at www.lookingglass.org. Or contact the center by phone, 1-800-644-2666; by TTY/TDD, 1-800-804-1616, or by e-mail, tlg@lookingglass.org.

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BRAILLER REPAIR

The Selective Doctor, Inc., is a repair service for all IBM typewriters and Perkins Braillewriters. Located in Baltimore, the service has done work for the Maryland School for the Blind and a number of other organizations in Maryland. They accept Perkins Braillers sent to them from around the country.

The cost to repair a manual Perkins Brailler is $55 for labor (flat rate), plus parts. Because of technical complexity the cost to repair an electric Perkins Brailler is $60 for labor (flat rate), plus parts. The Brailler will be shipped back to you by U.S. mail, Free Matter for the Blind, and insured for $400. The cost of this insurance ($5.50) will be added to your invoice. (This listed insurance charge may fluctuate due to rate changes by the postal service.)

To mail Braillers using the U.S. Postal Service, send your Brailler(s) to the Selective Doctor, P.O. Box 28432, Baltimore, Maryland 21234-8432. If you care to use UPS or Federal Express, please send Braillers to the Selective Doctor, 3014 Linwood Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland 21234-5821. The Website is <www.selectivedoctor.com>. With your Brailler(s) please include your name and organization (if applicable), shipping and billing addresses, telephone number, and a brief description of your Brailler's needs. Should you require additional information, please call (410) 668-1143, or email <braillerrepair@yahoo.com>.

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FREQUENTLY OVERLOOKED TAX CREDIT

Many disabled taxpayers may be overlooking a valuable tax credit that could increase their federal income tax refunds by as much as $4,824. The IRS estimates that up to one in four taxpayers who qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) fail to claim it. You may qualify if your income was under $41,646 last year and you, or your spouse, worked or received disability retirement benefits under an employer plan and were under the minimum retirement age. The amount of your EITC depends on several factors, such as the amount of your earned income, your filing status, whether you have children and how many, etc. Special rules apply if you have a child who is permanently and totally disabled. To get the credit you earned, you must 1) file a federal income tax return and 2) claim the credit. Many communities have volunteer income tax assistance sites or local IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers, which will compute your EITC and prepare your return without charge. To locate a volunteer site, call your community's number for local services or call the IRS at 1-800-906-9887. Find more information about EITC in alternative formats for people with print disabilities at www.irs.gov. Follow the home page link to "Accessibility," then the link to "Accessible IRS Tax Products" and select the appropriate link to download accessible forms or publications. The IRS web site provides accessible electronic files in formats including ASCII text (.txt), Braille-ready format (.brf), and Talking Tax forms in PDF that work with MSAA-compliant screen-reading software and Braille display devices.

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NEW ROWLING BOOK IN BRAILLE

J.K. Rowling's newest book, "The Tales of Beedle the Bard," her companion piece to the Harry Potter books, is currently available through National Braille Press. "The Tales of Beedle the Bard" are known to millions of Harry Potter fans as the volume of wizarding fairy tales left to Hermione Granger by Hogwarts Headmaster Albus Dumbledore in the seventh and final book, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows." The five fairy tales contained clues that were crucial to Harry Potter's final mission to destroy Lord Voldemort, but only one of the stories, "The Tale of the Three Brothers," was actually recounted in the book. This single Braille volume or PortaBook version costs $12.99. For more information, visit www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/BEEDLE.html. To order the book, send payment to: National Braille Press, 88 St. Stephen St., Boston, MA 02115-4302 or call 1- 800-548-7323.

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FREE PROSTATE BOOKLET

National Braille Press is offering for free "After Diagnosis: Prostate Cancer - Understanding Your Treatment Options," by the American Cancer Society. Prostate cancer can often be treated successfully, especially when it's found early. This booklet gives you general information about prostate cancer, the tests your doctor may order, treatment options, and common side effects as well as other resources for more information. Order this booklet in Braille or PortaBook from the web site, www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/PROCAN.html, by calling 1-800-548-7323, or sending e-mail to orders@nbp.org.

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TREKKER BREEZE AVAILABLE

HumanWare is now shipping Trekker Breeze, a talking GPS specially designed for the needs of visually impaired users. This simple orientation tool is designed for use when traveling in familiar surroundings or pre-defined routes. The Trekker Breeze provides talking GPS directions that help users know where they are, where they are going and what is around them. When walking, users receive audible information such as street names, intersections and reference landmarks. In case they are lost, they can retrace their steps. Users can also record routes and activate them for future use. They can also reach favorite destinations with turn-by-turn instructions. The Trekker Breeze is available for $895 in English, French, Dutch, Swedish or Norwegian. For more information, visit: www.humanware.com/en-usa/products/gps, call 1-800-722-3393, or e-mail us.info@humanware.com.

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RECORDING SERVICE AVAILABLE

Do you have family memories recorded on transcription disk, cassette tape, VHS or reel tape? I can transfer them to a digital CD or DVD. Contact Bryan Newkirk at (850) 512-4917 or <radiobryan@cox.net>, or visit <members.cox.net/radiobryan>.

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TUTORING FOR THE BLIND

Portal Tutoring offers individualized tutoring in using adaptive computers, Braille and specialized equipment for the blind and visually impaired, as well as pamphlets, books and audio classes on these same subjects. In addition, they now offer a program designed to teach basic writing skills for all students from age ten up. For more information, visit the web site, www.portaltutoring.info or phone (585) 244-0477. For a product list, or to discuss your training needs, e-mail akp@portaltutoring.info.

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ON THE WEB ANYWHERE

WebAnywhere software enables blind and visually impaired people to surf audio and video demonstrations and are at http://webanywhere.cs.washington.edu.

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ASSOCIATED SERVICES FOR THE BLIND

ASB's Online Bookstore provides shoppers from around the world access to 22 diverse recorded magazine subscriptions, 12 radio broadcast books and 845 Brailled books. If Brailled books are your passion, check back often to see our new book selections. To see a list of our most recently added titles, please click here:

http://asb.org/eLibrary/catalog/products_new.php?osCsid=1bc55a5b58307eefe0d380ea2323f4e1

Visit ASB's NEW Website

ASB recently launched our new website: www.asb.org. This new site provides easy navigation, one-click shopping, more information about our products and services, and is designed for easy access for individuals who are blind or visually impaired. Visit the new website today and learn what's going on with ASB.

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March Madness

Celebrate Women's History Month when you shop in ASB's Online Bookstore.

Check out the Biography section and about incredible women such as Lorian Hemmingway (granddaughter to Ernest), Sally Hobart Alexander, former first lady Barbara Bush, and more!

Also this month - Bring on the Luck of the Irish by reading the biography of St. Patrick of Ireland by Philip Freeman. Honor the man who helped change Irish history and culture.

ASB's Recorded Periodicals is featuring "Family Circle," "Taste of Home Cooking" and "Civil War Times" in March. Whether you love home decorating, delicious recipes including budget-friendly meals, advice, or history, these magazines are sure to satisfy. To preview, click on your favorite magazine and select "Listen to a 2 Minute Sample."

If you would like to have a specific book Brailled, please contact Tivoni Devor at tdevor@asb.org.

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Artificial Eyesight

By Kenneth Wightman

In 2001 I signed up to the Dobelle Laboratory in Commack, Long Island, for Artificial Vision at a cost of sixty thousand pounds, about ninety thousand dollars at that time.

In 2002 I went to the Cuf Hospital in Lisbon, Portugal, for the operation. This meant removing the top of my head and placing 72 electrodes on the left cortex of the brain and 72 on the right cortex, each connected to one of the two percutaneous titanium pedestals screwed to each side of the skull just above and behind the ear.

These two pedestals were connected to 70 core wires leading to a computer then on to a stimulator firing micro amps to the brain, the instructions coming from a camera on a pair of sun glasses with a module converting light rays to electric waves when an object was observed. The whole thing was powered by a 17-volt six-amp rechargeable battery.

This had limited success, enabling me to discern an object by phosphenes lighting up at the edge, all lighting in the middle and going less at the far side until they disappeared, but any eyesight is better than none.

Then the down side ... The pedestals went septic and had to be removed or I would have been dead in less than three months. This does not leave a great choice and out they came, but 144 electrodes were left on the brain as they had become encapsulated and removing them meant taking part of the brain.

The National Health neurosurgeon who performed this removal, at no cost, said he was ashamed that a member of his profession could perform such an operation in that manner as anything placed outside the protective skin would always lead to infection and, on the head, to death. So now I am back to no eyesight, but am alive and would advise anyone thinking of going down this route to think very hard and, if young enough, to wait until eye transplants come along, which they will, in time.

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Does Everything Happen Because of a Disability?

By Bob Branco

It is common knowledge that people with disabilities are met with discrimination. Even though we hope that this problem will go away as the public better understands what persons with disabilities can do, I still see how discrimination is expected in almost every situation that comes up.

In two months, I am holding a reunion of former students of the school for the blind that I attended. The restaurant is very nice and management is willing to offer us a private room for our party of 50. While I was speaking to the manager, he informed me that we can't order off the main menu, and that I should pick several choices from the menu for us to look at during the event. The reason why the manager asked me to do that is because he is afraid there will be a huge back-log in the kitchen if our party orders off the menu, combined with all the other orders from the public section of the restaurant. This may create a very lengthy delay in service to our party, according to the manager. When I informed my guests of this, one of them had the reaction I should have expected. The person feels that I was asked to pick choices because we are a blind group. If we were sighted, in this person's opinion, the manager would figure out a way to let us order from the menu. Unfortunately, there are people who think that whenever something goes wrong in a blind group or to a blind individual, it's because of the disability.

In this case, I don't see how the fact that we're a blind group has anything to do with the restaurant manager's concerns about a back-log of orders in the kitchen. I certainly won't repeat this accusation to the restaurant manager because there's no real logic to it. What's the difference if 50 sighted people order off the main menu, as opposed to 50 blind people? The food would be cooked by the exact same staff in the exact same kitchen, creating the exact same problem.

It's true that discrimination exists, but I think it's a dangerous precedent when we start to assume it. It may very well be that there is discrimination here, but I don't see it, no pun intended.

Your thoughts are welcome.

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We Need Our Police Force and Fire Fighters

By Bob Branco

The cities of New Bedford and Fall River, Massachusetts, are laying off police and fire fighters because of tough economic times. At the same time, probably for the same reason, the federal government is creating 250,000 jobs as a result of the stimulus package. I am not writing to comment one way or another on the stimulus package, but just ask yourself this: What's more important, putting police and fire fighters back in our community, or managing pig manure? Yes, you read correctly. While we are losing policemen and fire fighters, federal moneys are being spent on the management of pig manure in Iowa, and tattoo removal on the west coast. I'm not making light of these causes, but can't they wait a few months while cities and towns get their own economic acts together? We need police to protect us, and fire fighters to save our homes from fire. I am very sure that the Iowa farmers have come this far without the need for pig-manure management, and if they really need it, they could wait a few more months. If I had a tattoo that I wanted removed, I could wait until my city is fully protected.

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Lauren's Dream

By Lauren Casey

Below is my short story about perseverance. It is taken from a monologue I wrote for a piece written and still being performed by myself and other members of our theater company. Put very simply, the subject of this piece has to do with living with and coming to terms with our own disabilities.

When I was growing up my older sister, Jackie, was my role model. Everything Jackie did I wanted to do. So when Jackie decided to take up the sport of downhill skiing I, of course, wanted to learn how to ski.

Being a know-it-all teenager it never occurred to me that my blindness, or should I say, other people's attitudes about my blindness, could be an obstacle to my pursuits.

I recall comments like: "Blind people can't ski!" "How can you ski when you can't see where you're going?" or "That's too dangerous for you!"

Several years later I learned about programs that taught blind people how to ski. I immediately followed up on getting more details about these programs.

One weekend my friend Susan and I went to a ski resort in Vermont which offered such a program. Saturday morning I met the ski instructor who would be giving me my first lesson. She showed me how to put on my downhill ski boots and skis. We moved around on flat ground for a while so that I could get used to the feel and length of the skis.

We went up the chair lift. At the top it was now time for me to go back down the slope on my own. It was the bunny slope but it was Mt. Everest to me. With the exception of my instructor following behind me occasionally calling out "left" or "right" and other such directional commands, I was doing it all on my own.

There was no guide dog harness, no white cane or elbow of a sighted guide. The feeling of freedom and independence was incredible for me. It was just me, my poles and my skis!

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"PROFILE IN INCOMPETENCE"

Anonymous

***No he was not incompetent. He is part of the invisible government, which has been running and ruining this country for a long time. The media, which is part of it, of course, has brainwashed and disinformed the people. That is why things happen. Even stupids do not make mistakes only in one direction.***

The worst president in American history, Jimmy Carter became our 39th president at the young age of 52. He was a one-term governor from Plains, Georgia, where he managed the family peanut farm and taught Sunday school. He was also a graduate of the Naval Academy and served seven years in the Navy, leaving as a lieutenant.

He came to power in the aftermath of the Vietnam War and the resignation of President Nixon. The public wanted change and someone new, and Carter was an ambitious, hands-on politician who promised better days. As good as his intentions were, however, the things he tried were not successful. In fact, he created far more serious problems than he ever solved.

The centerpiece of Carter's foreign policy was human rights, and he did achieve one noble success - a peace treaty between Egypt's Anwar Sadat and Israel's Menachem Begin.

Unfortunately, that later led to Sadat's assassination at the hands of Muslim radicals.

Many people felt Carter was a good man who worked hard and meant well. But he was naive and incompetent in handling the enormous burdens and complex challenges of being president. He wrongly believed Americans had an "inordinate fear of communism," so he lifted travel bans to Cuba, North Vietnam and Cambodia and pardoned draft evaders. He also stopped B-1 bomber production and gave away our strategically located Panama Canal. His most damaging miscalculation was the withdrawal of U.S. support for the Shah of Iran, a strong and longtime military ally. Carter objected to the Shah's alleged mistreatment of imprisoned Soviet spies who were working to overthrow Iran 's government. He thought the exiled Ayatollah Khomeini, being a religious man, would make a fairer leader.

Having lost U.S. support, the Shah was overthrown, the Ayatollah returned, Iran was declared an Islamic nation and Palestinian hit men were hired to eliminate opposition. The Ayatollah then introduced the idea of suicide bombers to the Palestine Liberation Organization, paying $35,000 to PLO families whose young people were brainwashed to kill as many Israelis as possible by blowing themselves up in crowded shopping areas. Next, the Ayatollah used Iran's oil wealth to create, train and finance a new terrorist organization, Hezbollah, which later would attack Israel in 2006. In November 1979, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other Iranians stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran and took 52 Americans hostage for 444 days. Not until six months into the ordeal did Carter attempt a rescue. But the mission, using just six Navy helicopters, was poorly executed. Three of the copters were disabled or lost in sandstorms. (Pilots weren't allowed to meet with weather forecasters because someone in authority worried about security.) Five airmen and three Marines lost their lives.

So, due to overconfidence, inexperience and poor judgment, Carter undermined and lost a strong ally, Iran, that today aggressively threatens the U.S., Israel and the rest of the world with nuclear weapons.

But that's not all. After Carter met for the first time with Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, the USSR promptly invaded Afghanistan. Carter, ever the naive appeaser, was shocked. "I can't believe the Russians lied to me," he said. The invasion attracted a 23-year-old Saudi named Osama bin Laden to Afghanistan to recruit Muslim fighters and raise money for an anti-Soviet jihad. Part of that group eventually became al-Qaida, a terrorist organization that would declare war on America several times between 1996 and 1998 before attacking us on 9/11, killing more Americans than the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

On Carter's watch, the Soviet Union went on an unrestrained rampage in which it took over not only Afghanistan but also Ethiopia, South Yemen, Angola, Cambodia, Mozambique, Grenada and Nicaragua.

In spite of this, Carter's last defense budget proposed spending 45% below pre-Vietnam levels for fighter aircraft, 75% for ships, 83% for attack submarines and 90% for helicopters. Years later, as a civilian, Carter negotiated a peace agreement with North Korea to keep that communist country from developing nuclear weapons. He also convinced President Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to go along with it. But the signed piece of paper proved worthless. The North Koreans deceived Carter and instead used our money, incentives and technical equipment to build nuclear weapons and pose the threat we face today.

Thus did Carter unwittingly become our Neville Chamberlain, creating with his well-intended but inept, unrealistic and gullible actions the very conditions that led to the three most dangerous security threats we face today: Iran, al-Qaida and North Korea. On the domestic side, Carter gave us inflation of 15%, the highest in 34 years; interest rates of 21%, the highest in 115 years; and a severe energy crisis with lines around the block at gas stations nationwide.

In 1977, Carter, along with a Democrat Congress, created a worthy project with noble intentions - the Community Reinvestment Act. Over strong industry objections, it mandated that all banks meet the credit needs of their entire communities. In 1995, President Clinton imposed even stronger regulations and performance tests that coerced banks to substantially increase loans to low-income, poverty-area borrowers or face fines or possible restrictions on expansion. These revisions allowed for securitization of CRA loans containing subprime mortgages.

By 1997, good loans were bundled with poor ones and sold as prime packages to institutions here and abroad. That shifted risk from the loan originators, freeing banks to begin pyramiding and make more of these profitable subprime products.

Under two young, well-intended presidents, therefore, big-government plans and mandates played a significant role in the current subprime mortgage mess and its catastrophic consequences for the U.S. and international economies.

Hardest-hit by the mortgage foreclosures have been the citizens that Democrats always claim to help most - inner-city residents who fell victim to low- or no-down-payment schemes, unexpected adjustable rates, deceptive loan applications and commission-hungry salespeople.

Now we're having to bail out at huge cost Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the very agencies that were supposed to stabilize the system. In time, this should improve the situation. But the party of Carter and Clinton that midwifed our mortgage mess now wants to be trusted to take over and have the government run our entire system of health care!

Don't forget his "incompetent" interventions in the elections of Nicaragua (Daniel Ortega), the elections of Venezuela (Hugo Chavez) and his "stupid" decisions with Cuba (Fidel Castro).

And everyone is blaming Bush for our current problems.

A Response to above Article

Lindy

Our problems started in 1913 when Woodrow Wilson sold the country out for campaign money. In return, Wilson signed the Federal Reserve Act, thereby giving private bankers control of America's money.

Charles A. Lindbergh Sr., 1913: "When the President signs this bill, the invisible government of the monetary power will be legalized.... the worst legislative crime of the ages is perpetrated by this banking and currency bill."

Thomas Jefferson was concise in his early warning to the American nation, "If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issuance of their currency, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all their property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered."

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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Something that concerns me is fitness for the blind. Neither Perkins nor the Carroll Center helps, and being on a fixed income I can't afford a gym. Maybe some of your readers have ideas? Till then, I'll dance around my living room like a loony dancing to my hard rock. My form of dancing is just jumping around, and moving around for about 20 minutes - th

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DONATING YOUR BODY TO SCIENCE

There is an organization called Science Care that will accept the donation of your body for scientific research purposes.

The benefits are many. First, donating your body to science makes it possible for doctors to learn new techniques for surgery; your body, or parts of it, may be used in teaching universities; you get cremated for free.

When you die, your remains are picked up by Science Care. Within 30 days, your remains are cremated and returned to the person you have designated to receive them. And, there is no cost to you or your loved ones.

If you are an organ donor, Science Care will wait until your organs have been harvested and then take the remains.

The website for Science Care is http://www.sciencecare.com/; their phone number is (602) 331 3641.

I think this is a great way to prevent families from having to pay for expensive funerals and it makes your wishes known to all who are concerned.

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THE CONSUMER VISION TRIVIA CONTEST

Here is the answer to the trivia question submitted in the January/February edition of the Consumer Vision.

The name of the bell boy on the television show "The Jeffersons" is Ralph.

Congratulations to the following winners: Alan Soule of Wilton, Maine

Retha Reed of Harrisonburg, Virginia James Thomas of Clermont, Florida

Dennis O'Brien of New Bedford, Massachusetts

And now, here is your trivia question for the March/April Consumer Vision: Name the four singing Pointer Sisters.

If you know the answer, please e-mail bobbranco93@gmail.com or call 508-994-4972.

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