Is a decision by world banks to step in and provide cut-price dollar funding to eurozone banks a credible solution to the debt crisis? The Environment Agency says a drought that has affected parts of England since June could last until next



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Radio 4 Today December 2011

Thursday 1st December


Is a decision by world banks to step in and provide cut-price dollar funding to eurozone banks a credible solution to the debt crisis? The Environment Agency says a drought that has affected parts of England since June could last until next summer. Also on today's programme, Ian McEwan on the secret of creative writing.

0615
Business news with Simon Jack on news that central banks around the world are to support the global financial system by making it cheaper to borrow dollars.

0653
It is World Aids Day and, while huge strides have been made in treatments developed for HIV and Aids, there is still much work to be done. Dr Macky Natha, consultant in sexual health and HIV at Chelsea and Westminster NHS Trust in London, talks about the challenges that remain.

0709
Two-and-a-half years after the shocking problems at Stafford Hospital were revealed, the public inquiry into the failings at the trust is coming to an end. Jane Hughes reports on how the inquiry will be used to reform NHS hospital standards.

0712
Business news with Simon Jack.

0717
A report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation says that the government has no proper strategy to deal with poverty, particularly among young adults. Julia Unwin, chief executive of the foundation, explains her concerns.

0720
The Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne is to publish the government's revised carbon plan, despite George Osborne saying in his Autumn Statement that he was worried about the "combined impact" on business of British and EU green policies. Mr Huhne explains the government's green strategy.

0725
Sport news with Rob Bonnet.

0731
European foreign ministers meeting in Brussels are to discuss whether to take further action against Iran after Britain's embassy in Tehran was overrun by protesters. After closing the Iranian embassy in London, Foreign Secretary William Hague talks about what diplomatic and financial measures may be taken next.

0739
A review of the papers.

0742
Did the grim predictions for the future contained in the Autumn Statement amount to a watershed moment in British politics, when politicians and the electorate began to accept how painful the recovery would be? Ben Page, of pollsters Ipsos Mori, examines where the public stands on the issue. And Jim Tomlinson, professor of history at Dundee University, and John Kay, economist and writer with the Financial Times, discuss what politicians can offer an electorate used to rising prosperity.

0750
Thought for The Day with Akhandadhi Das.

0753
The government is warning that the drought which has hit parts of the UK this year could continue until next summer if the country suffers a dry winter. Trevor Bishop, head of water resources at the Environment Agency, explains how water companies and the public should plan now for a potential drought next year.

0810
Share prices have surged following news that world central banks were to take a co-ordinated approach in dealing with the eurozone crisis by making cheaper to borrow dollars. Sir Howard Davies, former deputy governor of the Bank of England, and the BBC's business editor Robert Peston analyse the importance of the move.

0818
The creative writing course at the University of East Anglia founded 40 years ago has an impressive list of alumni, including Ian McEwan, Kazuo Ishiguro and Anne Enright. Ian McEwan and Christie Watson, a recent graduate and Costa Prize nominee, discuss whether it is possible to teach people to be great writers.

0828
Sport news with Rob Bonnet.

0830
A building company - Berkeley Group - has been named the most admired company in the UK by Management Today. Economics editor Robert Peston analyses what the top 20 companies on the list, which includes Paddy Power and McDonalds, says about British industry. And chairman of Berkeley Group, Tony Pidgely, explains why he thinks they came out at the top.

0839
Actress Meryl Streep's portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in the new film The Iron Lady is perhaps the most eagerly anticipated cinematic performance of the year. Arts correspondent Will Gompertz speaks to the actress about taking on the role. Trevor Kavanagh, assistant editor at the Sun, gives his thoughts on the film.

0842
Business news with Simon Jack.

0848
The revelations about the shocking levels of care at Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust led to a public inquiry which finishes its hearings today, two-and-a-half years on. Patients First chairman Dr Kim Holt talks about the need for staff to be able to express concerns about their workplace.

0852
Now that the Gaddafi regime in Libya has been toppled, those people forced into exile during the dictatorship can return home. Tarik Kafala, middle east editor for the BBC's News website, is one such man and reflects on his return to his home town of Tripoli after nearly 34 years in exile.

0856
A new study from the University of Glasgow highlights potential health concerns over the caffeine content of drinks served in high-street coffee shops. Professor Alan Crozier led the research and describes the findings.

Friday 2nd December



Would an idea to negotiate public sector pay locally lead to workers in the north being paid less than those in the south? The watchdog which inspects care homes and hospitals in England has been accused of a catalogue of failures. Also on today's programme we celebrate the enduring appeal of the rock band T-shirt.

0615
Business news with Simon Jack on news that the European Central Bank is prepared to play a bigger role in solving the eurozone crisis.

0650
Mammal experts from across Europe are visiting Britain this weekend to discuss the situation facing a group of mammals called mustelids, which in the UK includes otters, badgers, polecats, pine martens, stoats and weasels. Marina Pacheco, chief executive of the Mammal Society explains their concerns.

0709
People living in Scotland and London are less likely to support cuts to immigration than elsewhere in Britain, according to a survey by Oxford University's Migration Observatory. Dr. Scott Blinder explains their findings.

0712
The National Audit Office has found that the Care Quality Commission completed fewer than half of its planned inspections during a six-month period last year. Laura Brackwell of the National Audit Office wrote the report and explains their findings. Conservative MP Stephen Dorrell, chair of the Commons health select committee, explains his concerns.

0718
Business news with Simon Jack.

0721
The Science Museum is showcasing the latest in robot design, including robots that learn by talking to humans. Katrina Nilsson of the Science Museum tells reporter Tim Muffett why some people might find human-like robots "creepy".

0725
Sport news with Garry Richardson.

0732
The Financial Policy Committee, which is tasked with regulating the City, has said that banks should keep lending, but if they needed more cash to build up their reserves they should cut dividends and bonuses. Angela Knight, of the British Bankers Association, gives her response and former City minister Lord Myners talks about how realistic it is to expect banks to fall into line.

0739
The paper review.

0742
The unusual winner of the 2011 Guardian First Book Award was a non-fiction book about cancer, written by an oncologist. Siddhartha Mukherjee talks about his winning book The Emperor of all Maladies.

0748
Thought for The Day with Lord Harries.

0751
The High Court is to decide whether a town council in Devon should be allowed to say prayers before meetings, after a complaint from an atheist member of Bideford Town Council, who claimed that saying prayers was a breach of human rights legislation. The National Secular Society's Keith Porteous Wood and Mike Judge from the Christian Institute discuss the implications of the case.

0810
In his Autumn Statement, the chancellor asked pay review bodies to "consider how public sector pay can be made more responsive to local labour markets", which could mean scrapping national pay rates for public sector workers and negotiating them locally. Unions fear that would lead to public sector workers in the north being paid less than their equivalents in the south. Northern TUC regional secretary Kevin Rowan and James Ramsbotham, chief executive of the North-east Chambers of Commerce, discuss whether the idea is workable.

0820
An auction in Hollywood of singer and actress Debbie Reynolds' film costumes earlier this year raised £13m and now she is about to auction off her collection of hundreds of the most recognisable movie costumes and artefacts. The BBC's Peter Bowes went to meet her to reminisce.

0825
Sport news with Garry Richardson.

0830
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says Europe is working towards setting up a "fiscal union", in an effort to resolve the eurozone's debt crisis. Read the news story

0835
Spending watchdog The National Audit Office has criticised the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which is responsible for inspecting hospitals and care homes in England, after finding that it failed to carry out half of its planned inspections in a six month period last year. Chief Executive of the CQC Cynthia Bower gives her response.

0842
Business news with Simon Jack.

0845
The birth last July of South Sudan, the world's newest nation, was marked with wild celebration following two decades of civil war. Since then there has been renewed fighting around the province of South Kordofan. The head of the Episcopal Church in Sudan, Archbishop Daniel Deng, described the current situation to the Today programme's Mike Thomson.

0847
US Attorney General Eric Holder has been under pressure from Republicans over his handling of Operation Fast and Furious, a scheme in which US agents allowed illegal guns into Mexico with the aim of tracing them to major drugs and arms dealers. Malcolm Beith, an expert on the Mexican drugs wars and author of the The Last Narco, describes the operation.

0850
Liver specialists in the north east of England say they are fighting an alcohol related liver disease epidemic, with the latest figures suggesting there has been a 400% increase in the number of people in their early 30s admitted to hospital since 2002 compared to the national average of 61%. Colin Shevills, director of drink awareness group Balance, carried out the research and explains what they found.

0854
BBC 6 Music are inviting their listeners to wear their old rock band T-shirts to work. Jude Rogers, Guardian music writer and creator of the mybandtshirt blog, talks about the enduring popularity of wearing your musicians on your sleeve.

Saturday 3rd December



One of the architects of the euro has accused members of the single currency of doing "too little, too late" to stem the sovereign debt crisis. The UN's main human rights forum has condemned the crackdown on protests by the Syrian government. And also on today's programme, we'll hear from our panel of Watford residents on how they're coping in these tough economic times.

0709
A look at today's papers.

0712
There were nearly 3000 cases of so-called "honour-based" acts of violence recorded by police across the country last year. Sarah Campbell has been looking at the figures.

0714
BBC correspondent Jon Leyne is in Egypt where the first results from the recent round of elections are being announced.

0717
At the Leveson Inquiry this week, the way the tabloids operate has been under scrutiny. BBC correspondent Peter Hunt looks back at the week's evidence including a former reporter at the News of the World who told the hearing that phone hacking was not uncommon among the rank and file, but that the paper's editors had known what was going on.

0721
There are parliamentary elections in Russia tomorrow. David Clark, the chairman of the Russia Foundation which tries to encourage democracy in Russia, explains why these elections could prove problematic for Mr Putin, who expects to become president again next March.

0725
Sports news with Rob Bonnet.

0732
Much has been written this week about the significance of the Autumn Statement for the coalition parties and the Labour Party and their strategies for the next election. Fraser Nelson, editor of the Spectator, and Graeme Cook, associate director of think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research, debate the future of the political landscape in Britain.

0739
The paper review.

0741
As the global financial crisis has unfolded, people have been taking to the streets in Wall Street, London and other cities. Alan Johnston reports from one of the other sites that have been occupied, a famous old theatre in the heart of Rome.

0746
Eric Daniels was the boss of Lloyds Bank until last March and when he left he took a bonus worth £1.45m with him, which the bank is now thinking of telling him to partly pay back. BBC reporter Ben Ando assesses the implications of such a move.

0748
Thought for The Day with Reverend Rob Marshall.

0752
The latest big international conference on climate change is under way in South Africa. John Prescott, former environment secretary who led the British delegation at the Kyoto talks, explains what is at stake at the conference.

0810
Over the last few days there have been a series of announcements from Sarkozy, Merkel and ECB president Draghi which have reinforced the idea that a fully formed plan to resolve the euro crisis will be in place for the 9 December summit. Ulrike Guerot, head of the Berlin office of the European Council for Foreign Relations, and Anton la Guardia, Brussels correspondent for The Economist, discuss if the leaders of the eurozone really do have a plan and what it may be.

0820
According to a survey from the charity Scope, most disabled people think the Paralympic Games should become a part of the Olympics rather than be held separately as they always have been. Scope chief executive Richard Hawkes and disabled basketball player and Olympic silver medallist Dan Johnson discuss the issue.

0830
What does austerity mean in practical terms for people in this country? To try to answer that question, John Humphrys went back to Watford, a small town north of London, to talk to a panel of eight people the programme rounded up a few years ago, to reflect on the Chancellor's Autumn Statement and what life is like for them and their families in Britain today.

0838
The paper review.

0850
The Australian photographer Richard Simpkin is having an exhibition at the Open Eye Gallery in Liverpool of photographs of him pictured with a range of celebrities he has taken during the last two decades. On the line from Sydney, he looks back at how our obsession with celebrity culture has evolved over the last 20 years.

0855
Jeremy Clarkson has created a media storm this week after comments he made on the BBC One Show calling for strikers to be shot in front of their families. Toby Young and Joan Burnie, of the Daily Record, debate the way in which the press have reacted to the controversy.

Monday 5th December



David Cameron is to set out plans to make Britain a world leader in life sciences and pharmaceuticals. The leaders of France and Germany are meeting to discuss the closer integration of the eurozone. Also on today's programme, has Steven Spielberg's attempt to turn the acclaimed play Warhorse into a film succeeded?

0615
Business news with Simon Jack, featuring how the eurozone crisis is hitting UK manufacturing.

0650
Young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are over-represented in "stubbornly satisfactory" schools that often fail to improve, according to a report. Professor Becky Francis authored the report for the Royal Society of Arts and outlines her findings.

0709
The prime minister is to launch the government's life sciences strategy to make the UK an attractive place for scientific research and the medical and pharmaceutical industries. President of the Royal Society and Chief Executive of the Francis Crick Institute Sir Paul Nurse examines how the UK can attract the best scientists.

0713
The charity Global Witness, which played a key role in publicising the problem of blood diamonds, is pulling out of the Kimberley Process that it helped to set up in an attempt to stop the trade. Charmian Gooch, the charity's founding director, explains why.

0717
Business news with Simon Jack.

0720
An investigation into the underlying causes of the riots across England earlier this year is being published by the London School of Economics (LSE) and the Guardian. Paul Lewis, the Guardian's special projects editor, outlines the findings.

0725
Sport news with Rob Bonnet.

0731
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy are meeting in Paris and are expected to unveil a plan for closer political and economic ties in the eurozone. Economics editor Stephanie Flanders examines what is expected to be announced and former Irish prime minister John Bruton reflects on whether this is the right way forward.

0737
The paper review.

0740
War Horse, the story by Michael Morpurgo about the relationship between a young English boy and his horse during World War I, has become one of the most popular British plays ever staged. Tom Brook reports on its transition to the big screen in Steven Spielberg's new film.

0747
Thought for The Day with Rabbi Lionel Blue.

0750
A vote is being held in the Commons to reform extradition arrangements with both the United States and the rest of the EU after fears that UK citizens are not being sufficiently protected. Conservative MP Dominic Raab and former home secretary David Blunkett debate if British people are being sufficiently protected overseas.

0810
David Cameron is to announce plans to make the UK more attractive to life sciences with a view to attracting pharmaceutical and medical companies into the country. Tom Feilden reports on how the industry has struggled and the Minister for Universities and Sciences David Willetts outlines what the government wants to achieve.

0817
Delegates from 90 countries are meeting in Bonn to discuss the future of Afghanistan after Nato troops pull out in 2014. Defence correspondent Caroline Wyatt reports from the district of Nad Ali, once an insurgent stronghold, where security checkpoints are now being handed over to the Afghans.

0822
A possible portrait of Jane Austen has been discovered which, if verified, will be one of the few remaining images of her. Arts editor Will Gompertz speaks to Austen biographer Dr. Paula Byrne, who believes she has a finished portrait that may reveal what Jane Austen really looked like.

0826
Sport news with Rob Bonnet

0832
In Russia, Vladimir Putin's party has won about half the votes in the country's parliamentary election, enough to keep his party in power but a big drop in popularity. The Economist's international editor, Edward Lucas, reflects on the implications of this setback for Prime Minister Putin, three months before he is due to stand again in the presidential elections.

0837
Business news with Simon Jack.

0840
According to The Association of Colleges, more teenagers who fail their GCSEs are dropping out of education completely. Sanchia Berg reports on the factors which may be affecting the number of drop-outs.

0847
It is ten years since a summit in Bonn discussed the future of Afghanistan following the fall of the Taliban. Delegates are back in Bonn for a second summit to examine how the country can develop once Nato forces withdraw in 2014. Janan Mosazai, spokesman for the Afghan foreign minister, is in Bonn and explains the challenges facing the country.

0856
As part of the drive to make the UK a more attractive place for medical research and the pharmaceutical industry, the government will propose greater access to the wealth of healthcare data within the NHS, including anonymised patient records. Joyce Robins, co-director of the organisation Patient Concern and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society's Neal Patel debate if the anonymity of patients can be guaranteed.
Tuesday 6th December

Nearly all the eurozone countries, including France and Germany, have been warned that their credit status could be downgraded. A committee of MPs has called for stricter checks on the financial health of England's care homes amid fears more could collapse. And also on today's programme, we speak to Sir Andrew Motion as Ted Hughes is honoured with a stone in Poets' Corner.

0615
Business news with Simon Jack, on news that almost the entire eurozone, including AAA-rated countries, Germany and France, have been put on "credit watch" by the credit rating agency Standard and Poors.

0640
The Today programme has been following three young unemployed people over the next couple of months as they look for jobs. A few weeks ago we heard from Lauren Hill a 19 year old mother from Streatham South London, the Today programme's Zubeida Malik who is following the group went back to meet Lauren as she comes to the end of a training course.

0654
Newspapers, weather reports and ski websites have been showing grim images of snow-free slopes, threatening the traditional start of the ski season this December. And although snow is arriving in some parts of Britain, Vicky Norman from the Ski Club of Great Britain describes the challenges facing resorts in the Alps.

0709
The Labour Party is launching the first root-and-branch review of policing for nearly 50 years which will be led by former Met Commissioner Lord Stevens. Blair Gibbs of the think tank Policy Exchange examines whether this is really needed.

0712
Ireland's annual budget is being announced over two days and the level of spending cuts is expected to be harsh as further austerity measures are put into place. Andy Martin reports from Dublin on what it means for retailers and consumers.


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