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  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --  Todd Carmichael is one of the few chief executives in America to publicly condemn Republicans’ plans to slash the corporate tax rate and rewrite the tax code.Why bash a plan that would be a boon for his shareholders? Carmichael says he’s willing to declare what other executives won’t: the bill may be good for his business, but it’s bad for the country.Carmichael said he defines his own success by doing right by the people around him. His primary responsibilities as the Chief Executive Officer of La Colombe Coffee Roasters are to scale up his company and make money for his shareholders; he wants to redefine how Americans drink their coffee. He said it wasn’t in his plans to be a voice for political change."When events started unfolding the way they did," he said, he realized, "I’m going to have to come out of the boardroom and I’m going to have to use my voice."Carmichael’s biggest concern over the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” is that it’s giving a large tax break to corporations at a time when they don’t necessarily need it. Drawing on comparisons from the way his grandparents stockpiled goods during The Great Depression, he explains why he believes giving a tax break to corporations now is bad."A stimulus package is like a bunker," he said. "It's the soups and crackers and all those things that are in your basement in case something goes wrong. The fact that we're eating that for dinner is dangerous. Because in years we might need it. And it won't be there."Though he recognizes that it’s his responsibility as a CEO to take any gains from the tax cut and pass them onto his shareholders, Carmichael strongly disagrees with the idea that those gains for investors will eventually trickle down to the American people. He said other CEOs he knows agree."CEOs are looking each other and going, ‘What's happening? We didn't ask for this and we know it won't work,'" he said. "And we don't have a choice ultimately either, our shareholders want that money."It's the long-term effects that concern him most, Carmichael said."We realize this is going to damage the economy over time, and it puts us in a very difficult situation," he added.Carmichael said he didn’t ask for permission from his shareholders to speak out, and that his plan is to "just keep going until someone says something."He felt compelled to speak out, he said, to help those who want change.“I've seen this unraveling of a country that I didn't think I lived in," Carmichael said. "I didn't think that this country just favored the rich, and just favored the affluent, or favored the white, or favored the straight. I don't want to live in a country like that. So it's up to me to either move or change it. And I'm not going to move. So I'm going to do what I can to change it." Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A New York Girl Scout is giving hundreds of kids the chance to play with a childhood staple, the American Girl doll, by creating a lending program for the dolls at local libraries.Olivia Reduto, 14, of Edgemont, New York, spent the past year raising nearly $800 so she could purchase six American Girl dolls and accessories for the dolls.Olivia, a ninth-grader who has been in the Girl Scouts since the first-grade, then donated two dolls each to three libraries within the Yonkers Public Library system just north of New York City.The dolls, which can be checked out for a three-week period, already have a waiting list after being introduced this fall.“It’s been overwhelming,” Tara Somersall, head of children’s services at Riverfront Library in Yonkers, said of the response. “One girl who checked a doll out from us last week, she left here skipping.”Somersall added of the appeal, “Because American Girl dolls come in different ethnicities, looking at these dolls, a lot of little girls can relate to them.”Olivia studied the demographics of each individual library in order to make sure each American Girl doll she donated was a doll the library’s patrons could identify with. American Girl dolls come with their books to explain their life story and represent a variety of backgrounds and historical eras.“I have three main points of my project,” said Olivia, who earned a Girl Scouts’ Silver Award for the project. “One is diversity, one is to get kids excited about history and reading and one is about income inequality.”She continued, “So I chose different types of dolls from different cultures and ones that had a certain history and certain years and worked with the library to pick them out.”Olivia was inspired after reading an article about the Ottendorfer branch of the New York Public Library, which has been lending American Girl dolls for several years.She held tea parties for younger Girl Scouts and worked at a Girl Scouts tag sale to raise money. Most American Girl dolls sell for more than $100, with accessories costing even more.After Olivia had enough money raised to purchase the dolls, she went on a shopping spree at the American Girl flagship store in New York City. Olivia's mom, Tina Reduto, also won a raffle through the store for a free American Girl doll that they are donating to a fourth local library.Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • ABC News(LEAVENWORTH, Kansas) -- Christmas is just a few weeks away, but for two tiny towns in Kansas, workers have been preparing for the holiday like busy Santa elves all year. At the two Hallmark plants in Leavenworth and Lawrence, 1,100 workers are responsible for dreaming up -- and then packing up -- millions of Christmas cards that get signed, sealed and delivered across the world."As a Hallmark writer, you kinda get into the spirit a lot earlier than most people do," said Andrew Blackburn, who has worked at the company for eight years. Blackburn said his parents, Tim and Brenda Blackburn, had inspired him.The Hallmark company has been celebrating the holiday since 1910. That year, co-founder JC Hall, then 18, traveled from Nebraska to Kansas City, Missouri, and stepped off the train with shoeboxes of postcards.With help from his brother Rollie Hall, around 1915, JC Hall began making and selling a new kind of card -- a greeting card -- and sending them inside envelopes."That was the start," said Lisamarie Soper, Hallmark Gold Crown's district manager.Hallmark was born. "From the writing I do to the lettering, the illustration, the design. It all happens right here," said Amy Trowbridge Yates, who's been at the company for more than 12 years.Kiely Chase, a Hallmark writer for 17 years, drew from her memories with her brothers to help write some cards. She also shared her recipe for writing holiday cards early in the year."I'm watching movies, you know, that everybody loves to watch at Christmas time," she said. "I'm listening to favorite Christmas songs, you know, that we all love."And, with those cards, Hallmark also offers gift-wrapping paper. Every year, 700 million feet are printed and it's all made in America.Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • ABC News(NEW YORK) -- If the recent news about a possible Christmas tree shortage has you worried this holiday season, one U.S. company is offering another option: Start growing your own! The Jonsteen Co. has six different types of Christmas tree growing kits in addition to other kinds of tree kits. And, in two to three years, you'll have a living tree all your own to decorate.The all-American tree company was founded in 1992 by Jonathan Claasen and Steen Christensen."Anything you can do with a tree, we've done it," Claasen said. "We grow trees. We package trees. We promote and champion trees." This year, the company also released an old-growth giant sequoia cone Christmas ornament.Claasen told ABC News that there was no offshore production, design or printing done at Jonsteen. The company is located in McKinleyville, California, in the heart of the Redwood Country, and got its start packaging and offering trees to national and state parks.  "Jonsteen grows dozens of fascinating tree species, which we wholesale and also sell directly to the public through our online boutique tree nursery," he said.Claasen said there are about 12 permanent workers but the company hires more people for big projects.And, its daily output fluctuates from a couple hundred during the off-season to more than 1,000 on summer days."We have many great clients and great locations, where our trees and/or grow kits can be found, from Disneyland to the White House and National Cathedral!" Claasen said. "We are at some premier botanic gardens and natural history museums across the country."Claasen said the company's current goal was finding a partner to help the Jonsteen Co. with a 10-year program to put a million trees into people's hands for Earth Week and National Arbor Day."As always, where trees are concerned, the sky’s the limit!" he said.
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