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Pumpkins, squash, beets and collard greens are just a few of the more than 50 different crops that Garner’s Produce in Virginia grows and sells at farmers markets about two hours away in Washington, D.C.

At a small soup shop in the northwest section of the District of Columbia, cooks are chopping Garner’s fresh squash and sweet potatoes for Soupergirl! vegan and kosher soups.

“We are trying to save the world one bowl of soup at a time,” said Sara Polon, a Soupergirl! founder.

Polon’s farm-to-table business model means that she buys produce to use in her soups from farmers markets around D.C. or wholesale from local growers like Garner’s Produce in Warsaw, Virginia.

“We need to think more about where our food comes from,” Polon said. “Where it was grown, who grew it, how it was picked, how it was prepared.”

Much of the produce that is sold in grocery stores is grown in other parts of the world and spends days in a shipping container before reaching a table.

“I didn’t know how corrupted our food system had become,” Polon said, adding that she thinks food should come from just a few miles away. “Why do we need to get apples from New Zealand, if they grow in Virginia?”

Bernard Boyle, farm manager for Garner’s Produce, agrees.

“You don’t know exactly” how farmers elsewhere are producing their crops, Boyle said. If the food is grown by a neighbor, “you know you’re going to get what you’re supposed to get.”

Polon’s mission is to make vegan and kosher soups using local produce to promote a healthful lifestyle. This model has sustained her business for over nine years. Sarah uses only vegetables that are in season, and she says that soup is always in season.

“Soup is not a fad, it’s not a trend. It’s classic, it’s not going anywhere,” she said.

Soupergirl! sells chilled soups in the summer using ingredients like Garner’s Produce watermelons and tomatoes. In the fall, the menu features fall-harvested produce such as lentils, butternut squash, collard greens, kale and potatoes from farms in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia.

Polon embraced her Soupergirl! alter ego nine years ago, when she and her mother started delivering soups they had made with local produce to individuals and businesses. She and her mom, whom she calls “the chief anxiety officer,” were making about 10 gallons of soup a day at that time.

Now, Soupergirl! produces 300 to 500 gallons of soup a day for its two D.C. locations, as well as grocery stores across several states and at farmers markets. Polon has even started a soup “cleanse” — a three-day or five-day healthful-eating plan to eat four Soupergirl! soups a day.

“It’s basically everything every doctor says you should be eating delivered right to your door,” she said.

Polon met the family in charge of Garner’s Produce at a Washington farmers market about five years ago, and they have been growing together ever since.

“She’s like family,” said Bernard Boyle. His wife, Dana Boyle, is the daughter of the man who started Garner’s Produce. She now runs the family farm.

Because Polon won’t use produce that’s out of season, she relies on her relationship with the Boyles to build her menu.

“I know that I have a farmer I can count on to get me the high-quality seasonal ingredients and I can rely on to deliver on time,” Polon said.

Polon also wants to know who is picking her produce and that they’re being treated fairly.

Garner’s Produce has the ability to grow produce throughout the winter, not only to help supply Soupergirl! but also to create work for their employees. They use heated tents to grow produce into February, whereas in the past they were done harvesting by late November.

“We treat everybody like family who works with us,” Bernard Boyle said. “We want them to make it through the winter.”

Last year, Garner’s Produce was able to produce 2,000 to 4,000 pounds of butternut squash and sweet potatoes per month. In the past couple of months, Polon has received 300 to 400 pounds of collard greens per week.

Arash Arabasadi contributed to this story.


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The fashion and textile industry could generate nearly half a million jobs in sub-Saharan Africa over the next decade. That’s according to the African Development Bank, which launched its “Fashionomics” initiative in 2015 to revitalize the industry. However, designers in the region still struggle to grow their businesses. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA from Nairobi.


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Venezuelan authorities arrested the acting president of Citgo, the U.S. subsidiary of state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA), along with five other senior executives Tuesday for alleged corruption.

Attorney General Tarek William Saab told a press conference that interim president Jose Pereira and other managers allegedly arranged contracts that put Citgo at a disadvantage. The company operates refineries in Illinois, Texas and Louisiana with a capacity of 749,000 barrels per day.

“They did it with total discretion, without even coordinating with the competent authorities,” Saab said. “This is corruption, corruption of the most rotten kind.”

The six were accused of misappropriation of public funds, association to commit crimes and legitimation of capital, among other crimes.

The other five detainees were identified as Tomeu Vadell, vice president of Refining Operations; Alirio Zambrano, vice president and general manager of the Corpus Christi Refinery; Jorge Toledo, Vice President of Supply and Marketing; Gustavo Cardenas, Vice President of Strategic Relations with Shareholders and Government, and Jose Luis Zambrano; Vice President of Shared Services.

Last month, a senior executive of PDVSA and a dozen officials were arrested for alleged embezzlement.

But members of the Venezuelan opposition argue that recent investigations do not demonstrate a genuine intention of the government to eradicate corruption, but only reflect internal struggles of PDVSA.

VOA Latin America contributed to this report.


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The U.S. Justice Department is suing to stop AT&T’s multi-billion dollar bid to take over another communications giant, Time Warner, calling it illegal and likening it to extortion.

“The $108 billion acquisition would substantially lessen competition, resulting in higher prices and less innovation for millions of Americans,” a Justice Department statement said Monday.

“The combined company would use its control over Time Warner’s valuable and highly popular networks to hinder its rivals by forcing them to pay hundreds of millions of dollars more per year for the right to distribute those networks.”

CNN, HBO top Time Warner products

Time Warner’s products include CNN, HBO, TNT, The Cartoon Network, and Cinemax — these networks broadcast highly popular newscasts, movies, comedy and drama series, and sports.

AT&T and its subsidiary DirectTV distribute these programs, as well as others, thorough cable and satellite.

The Justice Department decries the possibility of AT&T not just controlling television productions, but also the means of bringing them into people’s homes.

In its lawsuit, it threw AT&T’s words right back at the communications giant, noting that AT&T recognizes that distributors with control over the shows “have the incentive and ability to use … that control as a weapon to hinder competition.”

It also cited a DirectTV statement saying distributors can withhold programs from their rivals and “use such threats to demand higher prices and more favorable terms.”

Assured transaction would be approved

AT&T’s CEO Randall Stephenson told reporters the Justice Department’s lawsuit “stretches the reach of anti-trust law to the breaking point.”

He said the “best legal minds in the country” assured AT&T that the transaction would be approved and said the government is discarding decades of legal precedent.

AT&T and Time Warner are not direct competitors, and AT&T says government regulators have routinely approved such mergers.

President Donald Trump has made no secret of his contempt for one of Time Warner’s crown jewels — CNN, the Cable News Network — because of his perception of CNN being a liberal biased provider of “fake news,” including direct attacks against his administration.

Trump vowed during last year’s presidential campaign to block the merger.

Stephenson called the matter “the elephant in the room,” saying he said he “frankly does not know” if the White House disdain for CNN is at the heart of the Justice Department lawsuit.

But he said a proposal that Time Warner sell-off CNN as part of a settlement with the Trump Justice Department would be a “non-starter.”


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U.S. stocks are higher Monday as technology and industrial companies, banks and retailers all make modest gains. Drugmakers and other health care companies are trading lower. Companies that make opioid pain medications are down sharply after the government released a much higher estimate of the costs of the ongoing addiction crisis.

Keeping score

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index picked up 5 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,584 as of 2:15 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 94 points, or 0.4 percent, to 23,452. The Nasdaq composite advanced 7 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,789. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks edged up 6 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,499.

Tech tie-up

Chipmaker Marvell Technology Group said it will buy competitor Cavium for $6 billion in the latest deal in the semiconductor industry. Cavium climbed $7.48, or 9.9 percent, to $83.31 and it is up 22 percent over the last two weeks on reports Marvell would make a bid. Marvell rose $1.02, or 5 percent, to $21.31.

Other technology companies climbed as well. IBM added $2.01, or 1.3 percent, to $150.98 and Applied Materials picked up $1.12, or 2 percent, to $57.61. Cisco Systems gained 55 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $36.45.

Retail rising again

Retailers continued to move higher. They climbed last week following solid quarterly reports from Wal-Mart, Gap and Ross Stores. That’s given investors hope that shoppers are ready to spend more money. Home improvement retailer Home Depot rose $2.68, or 1.6 percent, to $170.42 and clothing company PVH rose $2.90, or 2.2 percent, to $136.02. Sporting goods retailer Hibbett Sports, after a 15-percent surge Friday, added $1.85, or 10.8 percent, to $18.95.

General electric slide

Industrial companies rose, as 3M gained $2.56, or 1.1 percent, to $231.92 and Boeing added $2.39 to $264.65.

General Electric missed out on those gains as investors continued to wonder about the company’s direction. On Sunday, the Wall Street Journal said that directors with energy and financial backgrounds, as well as GE’s two longest-tenured directors, are likely to leave the board as it shifts its focus away from those industries. The company said earlier this month that it will reduce the number of directors to 12 from the current 18.

GE lost 24 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $17.97.

Drugmaker downturn

A White House group said the opioid drug epidemic cost the U.S. $504 billion in 2016, far larger than other recent estimates, and companies that make those pain medications traded sharply lower.

Last year a separate estimate said the crisis cost the country $78.5 billion in 2013, including lost productivity and health care and criminal justice spending. The Council of Economic Advisers said the new figure reflects the worsening crisis and that earlier figures didn’t calculate deaths or include the use of illegal drugs.

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries fell 77 cents, or 5.6 percent, to $13.07 and Allergan gave up $3.78, or 2.2 percent, to $171.10. Endo International lost 26 cents, or 3.5 percent, to $7.28. Insys Therapeutics shed 20 cents, or 3.6 percent, to $6.18. Executives including Insys’ founder and its former CEO have been charged with offering kickbacks to doctors to get them to prescribe its fentanyl spray Subsys. Its stock traded above $40 in mid-2015.

Merck-y future?

Merck stumbled after Genentech, a unit of Swiss drugmaker Roche, reported positive results from a study of its drug Tecentriq as a primary treatment for lung cancer. Genentech said patients who were given Tecentriq as part of their treatment regimen were less likely to die or see their cancer get worse.

The results could affect sales of Merck’s drug Keytruda and Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Opdivo. Merck fell $1.10, or 2 percent, to $54.10 and Bristol-Myers Squibb lost 66 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $60.63.

Energy

Benchmark U.S. crude fell 50 cents to $56.05 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, dropped 67 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $62.05 a barrel in London.

Currencies

The dollar rose to 112.64 yen from 112.13 yen late Friday. The euro slipped to $1.1737 from $1.1796 after a group of German political parties couldn’t agree to form a government, which might mean new elections are on the way. A weaker euro is good for companies that export a lot of products, and the German DAX was up 0.7 percent while France’s CAC 40 rose 0.5 percent. The FTSE 100 in Britain added 0.2 percent. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 index lost 0.6 percent and South Korea’s Kospi shed 0.3 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index added 0.2 percent.

Bonds

Bond prices edged lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.37 percent from 2.35 percent.

Metals

Gold slumped $21.20, or 1.6 percent, to $1,275.30 an ounce. Silver sank 53 cents, or 3.1 percent, to $16.84 an ounce. Copper gained 3 cents to $3.09 a pound.


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Fed Chair Janet Yellen says she will leave the U.S. central bank’s board when her successor is sworn in early next year.

Jerome Powell was chosen by President Donald Trump to head the Federal Reserve when Yellen’s term expires. Powell must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate before he can take office, but analysts say his approach to managing interest rates is similar to Yellen’s. She is credited with managing the economy in ways that boosted recovery from the 2007 recession and cut unemployment in half.

In her resignation letter to Trump, Yellen said she is “gratified that the financial system is much stronger than a decade ago.” She also noted “substantial improvement in the economy since the crisis.”

Yellen is the first woman to lead the Fed, and was a member of its board of governors before taking the leadership role. Her term on the board does not officially expire until 2024, and she could have stayed on if she wished to do so.

Candidate Trump criticized Yellen during his campaign, but praised her work after he became president.

Yellen has served as vice chair of the Fed, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, and head of President Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers. She has researched and taught economics at the University of California at Berkeley.


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Regulators in the U.S. state of Nebraska have voted to approve a route for TransCanada Corp’s Keystone XL pipeline – the last major obstacle to complete the oil pipeline that President Donald Trump has supported.

The regulatory body, which by state law could not consider the risk of leaks or potential environmental impacts, voted to approve the project just days after a leak in a separate pipeline – also named “Keystone” – spilled 5,000 barrels of oil in the nearby state of South Dakota.

The 3-2 decision by the Nebraska Public Service Commission is likely to be challenged in court by environmental activists in the nearly decade-long debate surrounding TransCanada’s project linking Canada’s Alberta oil sands to refineries in the United States.

The commission’s vote does not approve TransCanada’s proposed route, but a modified one which could prove more costly and difficult to build. It was not immediately clear whether the corporation would go through with the project as it considers its commercial viability.

In 2015, the Obama administration rejected construction of the pipeline, saying it would detract from America’s global leadership on issues related to climate change.

But the Trump administration overturned the decision in March, saying that the pipeline is safer than other methods used to transport oil, and calling its completion “long overdue.”

The 1,900-kilometer-long pipeline is designed to transport up to 830,000 barrels per day of tar sand oil from Alberta, Canada, to Nebraska, where it would then enter existing pipelines to the Gulf Coast refineries.

The pipeline construction sparked months of protests by Native Americans and activist groups, who say the project could pollute local water supplies.


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Bitcoin hit a new record high on Monday after smashing through the $8,000 level for the first time over the weekend, marking an almost 50 percent climb in just eight days.

The new high came after leading U.S. payments company Square Inc. said late last week that it had started allowing select customers to buy and sell bitcoins on its Cash app.

Bitcoin traded as high as $8,197.81 on the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp exchange, up over 2 percent on the day and around 48 percent up since dipping to $5,555 on Nov. 12.

An eye-watering eightfold increase in the value of the volatile cryptocurrency since the start of the year has led to multiple warnings that the market is in a bubble, and institutional investors are broadly staying away.

Retail investors, however, as well as some hedge funds and family offices, are piling into the market. The “market cap” of all cryptocurrencies hit an all-time high of over $242 billion on Monday, according to trade website Coinmarketcap.


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Opioid drug abuse, which has ravaged parts of the United States in recent years, cost the economy as much as $504 billion in 2015, White House economists said in a report made public on Sunday.

The White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) said the toll from the opioid crisis represented 2.8 percent of gross domestic product that year.

President Donald Trump last month declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency. While Republican lawmakers said that was an important step in fighting opioid abuse, some critics, including Democrats, said the move was meaningless without additional funding.

The report could be used by the Trump White House to urge Republicans in Congress – who historically have opposed increasing government spending – to provide more funding for fighting the opioid crisis by arguing that the economic losses far outweigh the cost of additional government funding.

Using a combination of statistical models, the CEA said the lost economic output stemming from 33,000 opioid-related deaths in 2015 could be between $221 billion and $431 billion, depending on the methodology used.

In addition, the report looked at the cost of non-fatal opioid usage, estimating a total of $72 billion for 2.4 million people with opioid addictions in 2015. Those costs included medical treatment, criminal justice system expenses and the decreased economic productivity of addicts.

The CEA said its estimate was larger than those of some prior studies because it took a broad look at the value of lives lost to overdoses. The CEA also said its methodology incorporated an adjustment to reflect the fact that opioids were underreported on death certificates.

“The crisis has worsened, especially in terms of overdose deaths which have doubled in the past ten years,” the CEA said.

“While previous studies have focused exclusively on prescription opioids, we consider illicit opioids including heroin as well.”

Opioids, primarily prescription painkillers, heroin and fentanyl, are fueling the drug overdoses. More than 100 Americans die daily from related overdoses, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


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