Sam Sanders

Sam has worked at Vermont Public Radio since October 1978 in various capacities â

One of the biggest transportation projects the country has ever seen broke ground Monday in Fresno, Calif. In theory, the much delayed high-speed rail line would allow a trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco in less than three hours, with speeds of over 200 mph.

The milestone comes six years after voters first approved an almost $10 billion bond act to fund the project. But that bond, plus about $3 billion in federal funds, still leaves the project about $55 billion short of the cost to get the line up and running by 2030.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Greenpeace has apologized to the people of Peru after activists entered a highly restricted area to leave a message on ancient, sacred desert land.

Activists placed giant, yellow letters spelling out, "Time for change! The future is renewable. Greenpeace," near markings in the earth known as the Nazca lines.

Reuters reports that:

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It's a pretty good time to be president of a private college, at least financially. The Chronicle of Higher Education just released its annual roundup of executive compensation for private college presidents, and it reports that Shirley Ann Jackson of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute earned $7.1 million in 2012 alone. (2012 is the latest year federal tax documents with this information are currently available.)

Matthew and Grace Huang, an American couple who had been forced to remain in Qatar over the death of their adopted 8-year old daughter in 2013, have left the country en route to the United States.

On Sunday, an appeals court cleared the Huangs of all charges in their daughter's death, but as they arrived at the Hamad International Airport in Doha later that day to fly home to California, the couple were detained again. Qatari authorities said another appeal had been filed in their case and that they could not travel.

That travel ban was lifted Wednesday.

Wednesday marks the fifth anniversary of USAID subcontractor Alan Gross' detention in Cuba. Gross had been working on a covert program to improve Internet access for Jewish Cubans, giving out laptops and mobile phones while traveling in the country on a tourist visa. Gross was arrested on Dec. 3, 2009. A Cuban court found him guilty of crimes against the Cuban state in 2011, and sentenced him to 15 years in prison.

Nick Miroff previously reported on this story for NPR:

Since Tim Cook has been CEO of Apple, the company's market capitalization (or the value of its outstanding shares) has increased by more than $300 billion. On Nov. 26, it reached its highest level yet, almost $698 billion.

Numerically, this is a feat. Quartz says, "In nominal terms no company has ever been as big as Apple." Of course, Quartz goes on to say that, adjusted for inflation, Microsoft was bigger at its 1990s peak.

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