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Page last updated at 07:11 GMT, Wednesday, 10 December 2008
Today: Wednesday 10 December 2008

PLEASE NOTE: We are unable to offer transcripts for our programme interviews. Today is broadcast live and the running order is subject to change.

Benefit claimants, including single mothers, will have to "play their part" in the economy or face losing some state payments, the government says. GP Dr John Canning discusses if the number of people on benefit can be cut without increasing hardship or poverty.

The Governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, has been arrested and charged with trying to sell the US senate seat that was made vacant when Barack Obama was elected President. North America editor Justin Webb considers the charges.

Business news with Adam Shaw.

Why is there still a lingering fascination with pre-revolutionary Russia? A new exhibition of costumes called Magnificence of the Tsars is to open at the V&A Museum in London. Correspondent David Sillito visits the exhibition filled with Imperial costumes on public display for the first time.

Sports news with Garry Richardson.

Greece is braced for further turmoil after days of violence, as unions stage a general strike in protest against the government's economic policies. Correspondent Paul Wood and George Papakonstantinou, who speaks for opposition party the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), reflect on recent events in the country.

Today's papers.

What is at the centre of our galaxy? A group of German astronomers have concluded that the galactic centre has a mass four million times greater than our sun and that it is a giant black hole. Dr Robert Massey, of the Royal Astronomical Society, explains why - frightening as it sounds - there is no need to worry as we are 158,000 million million miles away.

A form of mass hysteria has broken out over the severity of nut allergies, a Harvard professor says. Professor Nicholas Christakis, of Harvard Medical School, discusses why he thinks everyone is overreacting.

Thought for the day with Professor Mona Siddiqui, of the University of Glasgow.

The mining firm, Rio Tinto, has announced 14,000 job losses. Business editor Robert Peston explains how the move has come from a reduced demand from China for raw materials.

The Governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, has been arrested for trying to sell President-elect Obama's senate seat. But he has also been accused of intimidating writers at the newspaper the Chicago Tribune. One of the journalists Ray Long explains the background to the story.

Sky television is to broadcast a programme showing a man killing himself at a euthanasia clinic in Switzerland. The man, Craig Ewart, had motor neurone disease and he was filmed with his wife, as he drank a mixture of sedatives and turned off his own ventilator using his teeth. He had allowed his death to be filmed for a documentary, Right to Die?, by Oscar-winning director John Zaritsky, who explains why he wanted to make the film. Dame Joan Bakewell and MP Phil Willis, the chairman of the Commons committee which looks at science, discuss whether the moment of death should be shown on television.

The government's welfare reform plans - designed to get more than a million people off benefits and into work - are to be published. Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell discusses how benefit claimants "can play their part" in the economy.

Sports news with Garry Richardson.

Trade unions in Greece will instead hold a rally outside the Greek parliament as part of a general strike, in protest against the government's economic policies. Reporter Andrew Hosken follows the events of three consecutive days and nights of riots in which shops and offices were set alight, triggered by the death of 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos, shot by police in Athens.

The principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, introduced 60 years ago, were enshrined in law in 1998 when the UK brought in the Human Rights Act. Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, and Michael Wills, minister of state for justice, discuss if it should be changed to incorporate responsibilities as well as rights.

Business news with Adam Shaw.

What is the role of civil servants in the Damian Green affair? Jonathan Baume, general secretary of the union for senior civil servants - the First Division Association, and Sue Cameron, of the Financial Times, discuss if a series of leaks from inside the Home Office - in breach of the rules under which civil servants operate - means that the sanctity of Whitehall departments and ministers' private offices is in doubt.

The owner of the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, US media group Tribune, has filed for bankruptcy protection as it struggles with $13bn (8.7bn) of debt. Jeff McAllister, former bureau chief in London for Time magazine, and Jim Schiuto, senior foreign correspondent for ABC news, discuss the industry-wide slump in newspaper advertising revenues throughout 2008.



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