Audie Cornish

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. For the last 10 weeks, NPR has been following eight runners who have been preparing for this year's Boston Marathon. We've dubbed our runners the NPR 8 and they've been blogging the highs and lows of their training. Today, we have some excerpts from their audio diaries.

Melissa Block and Audie Cornish read letters from listeners about the demands made on students and student-athletes in college.

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We'll end the hours with an innovative business proposition. When a funk band from Michigan planned its upcoming tour, it had one important condition, all the shows must be free. The band is called Vulfpeck and they decided to finance those free concerts with a new album. It's called "Sleepify."

In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin defended his position on Ukraine. In a news conference, Putin denied that Russian troops are in Crimea but reserved the right to use force in Ukraine.

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MELISSA BLOCK: This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

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NPR Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman joins us now to talk about the Pentagon's view on cuts to military benefits. And Tom, we just heard from Quil that retirees feel the military is essentially breaking faith with those who served. But what do Pentagon leaders say to that?

TOM BOWMAN, BYLINE: Well, Audie, I spoke with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Martin Dempsey earlier this week and I asked him about these pension cuts and here's what he had to say.

The Senate is still struggling to find a way to pay for an extension of unemployment benefits for those out of work for 26 weeks or more. Majority leader Harry Reid agreed to bring up five Democratic and five Republican amendments in hopes to winning enough Republicans over to get to the 60 votes needed for passage.

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Embattled New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was back in the spotlight today. The annual State of the State speech came at an awkward moment for Christie. The Republican governor had not spoken publicly since apologizing last week for politically motivated lane closures at the George Washington Bridge. Christie acknowledged the unfolding scandal at the start of his speech.

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Today brings a new wave of questions about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. It's no longer just about whether Christie knew members of his team had ordered a traffic jam on the Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge. Today we learned the federal government is also investigating whether the Christie administration misused funds earmarked for recovery from Superstorm Sandy.

We're joined once again by reporter Matt Katz of member station WNYC. And, Matt, what more can you tell us about these new allegations?

Poverty and income inequality have long been staples of the Democratic Party platform, but they haven't often been high priorities. This year, that appears to be changing, and what's more, some Republicans seem eager to join the conversation.

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