• News Feeds
Page last updated at 07:14 GMT, Monday, 15 December 2008
Today: Monday 15 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.

A review of Royal Mail is expected to say radical changes are needed at the company to avoid financial disaster. A British doctor is flying home having been held captive by her parents in Bangladesh for four months. And why did a man at a news conference hurl his shoes at George Bush?

West Coast rail mainline has introduced new timetable, with 700 extra train services and 250,000 more seats every day, after the completion of improvement work. The project cost £9bn and will result in quicker services between London, Birmingham and Manchester. Ian Coucher, the chief executive of Network Rail, discusses whether the project was worth the wait.

Gordon Brown will try to revive the Middle East peace process this week by hosting separate talks in London with the Palestinian and Israeli prime ministers. The Palestinian PM, Salam Fayyad, will go to Downing Street this morning, before attending a forum in east London set up to draw more business investment into the Palestinian territories. The Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, arrives in London on Tuesday. Jeremy Bowen analyses whether the plan will improve the relationships in Middle East.

Today's papers.

Business news with Adam Shaw.

Over a thousand new species have been discovered in the Greater Mekong Region of Southeast Asia in just the last decade, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Discoveries include the world's largest huntsman spider and the hot pink coloured cyanide-producing "dragon millipede". Mark Wright, the conservation science advisor to the World Wildlife Fund, discusses the significance of the findings.

Sports news with Rob Bonnet.

The Central African Republic (CAR) is one of the poorest countries in the world and yet it gets less development aid that almost anywhere else on earth. In the first of a series of reports, Mike Thomson reports from the troubled but forgotten nation. He begins in the north-west of the country, near the town of Paoua, where thousands of families are still camped in the bush after their villages were ransacked by government forces nearly two years ago.

Today's papers.

A BBC correspondent is setting out on a 12 day trek in Israel following in the footsteps of Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem, taking a donkey on the journey for good measure. Aleem Maqbool reports on his journey from outside the Church of Annunciation in the centre of Nazareth.

Thought for the day with John Bell.

A woman has been freed by a Bangladeshi court from what she said was family captivity in advance of a forced marriage, arranged by her parents. Dr Humayra Abedin, who is 33, is now on her way back to Britain after she was granted an injunction by the UK's High Court under the Forced Marriages Act. But it was the decision of the court in Dhaka to demand her release that allowed her to return to Britain where she was trained and is due to take up a post at a GP practice in east London. Anne-Marie Hutchinson, Abedin's solicitor, and "Sophia" a victim of forced marriage, discusses the case.

An independent review into the future of Royal Mail is expected to warn that it faces financial disaster unless it is radically reorganised. Business editor Robert Peston analyses the dilemma being faced by the government over the future of the postal service.

A £7bn Royal Mail pension shortfall may end up in the hands of the taxpayer - further emphasising the gap between private and public sector pension provision. John Cridland, deputy director general of the CBI, and Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union, debate whether the current pension system is fair.

After receiving critical acclaim for their film The Hours, Director Stephen Daldry and writer Sir David Hare have returned to film adaptations of best-selling novels with post-war drama The Reader. Arts correspondent Rebecca Jones speaks to the pair about their latest collaboration.

Sports news with Rob Bonnet.

Gordon Brown has said that three-quarters of the most serious terror plots being investigated by UK authorities have links to Pakistan. Of particular concern are Pakistan's tribal areas, which lie on the border with Afghanistan and are believed to be the hiding place of Osama Bin Laden. The BBC's Jane Corbin managed to gain access to the notoriously inhospitable region, and reports on what she found and Pakistani journalist and author Ahmed Rashid, says the area is a "melting pot" of militants.

Business news with Adam Shaw.

The withdrawal of all benefits from failed asylum seekers is inhumane and inefficient according to former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith. His think tank, the Centre for Social Justice, says that the government is trying to encourage voluntary departure from Britain 'by destitution' - which means that many migrants go underground. It estimates that at least 26,000 failed asylum seekers are subsisting on Red Cross food parcels in the run-up to Christmas. Mr Duncan Smith discusses what he describes as a "sad reflection on British society".

In Iran the authorities boast that they block five million websites, because they are immoral or un-Islamic. Despite this, Iran has one of the most active blogging communities in the world. Throughout the day, BBC Radio will be speaking to Iranian bloggers and internet users to find out about this revealing side of Iranian society. Correspondent Jon Leyne, explains the power of the Iranian blogosphere from an internet café in Tehran.

Update on the score in the Test Match between England and India.

There seems to be a strange inverse popularity law in British politics - the worse the economy gets, the more popular the government. Gordon Brown has gone from zero to hero as the economy has wandered into its worst crisis in generations. John Major won the 1992 election in the aftermath of a recession and house price crash. Fraser Nelson, political editor of the Spectator, and John Rentoul, columnist with the Independent on Sunday, debate whether politicians exploit economic crises.



Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2017 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific