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Page last updated at 12:30 GMT, Tuesday, 16 December 2008
Today: Tuesday 16 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.

Letters are being sent to tens of thousands of retired public sector workers who face a cut in their future pensions because they have been overpaid. And a Japanese businessman has been convicted - on appeal - of abducting the British bar hostess Lucie Blackman, but not of killing her.

Investigators are now digging through financial records at the investment firm of US hedge fund owner Bernard Madoff after alleged fraud which lost $50bn. Correspondent Kevin Connolly reports on the scandal from Washington.

Business news with Nick Cosgrove.

The UN Security Council is to vote on a new resolution on Israeli-Palestinian talks. Correspondent Jeremy Bowen reports on what would be the first resolution to be passed since the "roadmap" for Middle East peace was established in 2003.

The government is to consult on some GPs' practice of using revenue-generating telephone numbers. Richard Vautrey, deputy chair of the BMA's GP committee, and David Hickson, a campaigner against revenue generating phone numbers, discuss the issue.

Sports news with Garry Richardson.

Peace talks are under way in the Central African Republic between the government and leaders of various rebel forces. Following several years of civil war and coups, the government controls little more than half the country. Correspondent Mike Thompson brings us the second in a series of reports from the country.

Today's papers.

Thought for the day with The Right Reverend James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool.

A documentary filmmaker, Volker Kuehn, has accused a 105 year old German singer, Johannes Heesters, of entertaining the Nazis at the Dachau concentration camp. Mr Heesters has taken Mr Kuehn to court for libel and is awaiting the verdict. Correspondent Steve Rosenberg examines the case.

A report is due on what went wrong with the Sats tests in England this summer. Following her interview with the Today programme in the summer, Sue Bailey, headteacher of Beechwood Junior School in Southampton, looks at the repercussions of the problems.

The government estimates that around 5% of public sector pensioners have been overpaid because of mistakes made by Xaffinity Paymaster. It is the body - now private - which under various names has been paying out pensions on behalf of the government for about 170 years. The Liberal Democrats treasury spokesman Vincent Cable explains what happens to the overpaid pensions.

Bernard Madoff, once a celebrated success in the hedge fund world, is now on bail as US authorities liquidate his fund and prepare a case against him for an alleged $50bn fraud. Steven Bell, the chief economist at the Hedge Fund GLC, and Jon Moulton, the managing partner of private equity advisory business Alchemy Partners, consider the regulatory implications and the consequences for hedge funds.

How much alcohol, if any, should parents allow their children to drink? The government is expected to release guidelines in early 2009. Correspondent Winifred Robinson reports on some of the efforts being made to curtail under age drinking.

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has been accused by the FBI, which has been tapping his phone, of trying to sell Barack Obama's Senate seat to the highest bidder. North America editor Justin Webb reports on the first step taken by Illinois lawmakers towards impeaching the governor.

Sports news with Garry Richardson.

The world's largest drug company, Pfizer, has announced plans for a multi-million pound centre in Cambridge to invest in some of the most promising stem cell research. Science correspondent Tom Feilden reports the increasing frustration from scientists at the slow pace at which their work has been developing.

An inquiry into the chaos affecting the Sats tests taken by school pupils in England this summer is set to publish its report into what went wrong. Mick Brookes, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, discusses if the way pupils' papers are marked is systemically flawed.

Business news with Nick Cosgrove.

French President Nicholas Sarkozy is coming to the end of his six months as President of the Council of the European Union. Europe editor Mark Mardell reports on Mr Sarkozy's speech to the European Parliament to mark his time in office.

News of the alleged $50bn fraud by Bernard Madoff looked eerily familiar to viewers of the last episode of the BBC adaptation of Charles Dickens' Little Dorrit. John Bowen, professor of English at York University and current president of The Dickens Society, discusses the "uncanny similarities" between current events and the investors depicted in the novel, who lost their fortunes in the collapse of Mr Merdle's bank.

Can anything be done to combat the "drinking culture" among teenagers? Does anything need to be done? Don Shenker, chief executive of Alcohol Concern, discusses the risks posed by young people drinking.



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