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Page last updated at 07:21 GMT, Thursday, 29 January 2009
Today: Thursday 29 January 2009

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

The US House of Representatives passes President Obama's $819bn (572bn) economic package - but without any Republican support. And an "unacceptably" high number of people in England cannot read, write and count properly, MPs have warned.

Around 51,000 pupils left school without a GCSE grade D-G in maths and 39,000 left without this grade in English in 2007, the Public Accounts Committee say. The Conservative chairman of the committee, Edward Leigh, discusses if this number is unacceptably high.

Somali pirates were paid an estimated 35m last year but a BBC investigation has found that it is costing as much again to negotiate and deliver the ransoms. Reporter Simon Cox examines where all this money is going.

Business news with Adam Shaw.

Before the bulk of aid reaches the area, how will the people of Gaza go about rebuilding their homes and their businesses? Middle East correspondent Tim Franks finds some residents of the Gaza Strip who have already started the process of reconstruction.

A symposium on the effect of not getting enough sleep is being held in Brussels. Sara Arber, professor of sociology at the University of Surrey, discusses how sleep restriction can damage health.

Sports news with Garry Richardson.

The head of children's charity Barnado's has suggested that more children could benefit by being taken away from their families. Chief executive Martin Narey explains his view that the current preference for keeping families together is putting vulnerable children in danger.

The number of wild deer in the UK has doubled in the last 10 years and the Dear Initiative says more should be culled. Correspondent Graham Satchell interviews Jane Rabagliati, of the Deer Initiative, about whether a cull of the animal is a necessary evil.

Today's papers.

A gloomy economic outlook dominates discussions as global political leaders and business people gather for the annual World Economic Forum in Davos. Today presenter Evan Davis reports from the ski resort and considers whether the meeting can help "reshape the post-crisis world".

Thought for the day with the writer and broadcaster Rhidian Brook.

Children aged under 15 should never be given alcohol, even in small quantities, England's chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson is set to say. Reporter Stephen Chittenden speaks to 14 and 15-year-olds in Cambridge about their attitude to alcohol and Sir Liam explains why the guidelines have become necessary.

The number of people in England who cannot read, write and count properly is "unacceptably" high, MPs have warned. Skills Secretary John Denham and English teacher Phil Beadle discuss why 6% of school leavers in England do not have the literacy skills expected of an 11-year-old.

The UN says that hundreds of people have been taken in convey out of the war zone in Sri Lanka, among them 50 critically injured children. Most of them have been hurt by shellfire, as Sri Lankan forces battle against the Tamil Tigers. Chris Morris reports from Colombo on UN concerns that a humanitarian crisis is taking place.

Amid the economic doom and gloom at Davos, one talk has had people standing on chairs and singing at the top of their voices. Benjamin Zander, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic, talks to Evan Davis about his attempt to lift the mood at the World Economic Forum.

Sports news with Garry Richardson.

The government's continuing drive to convert England's most challenging schools into academies has come under fire following a damning Ofsted verdict into an academy in Carlisle. Education correspondent Sarah Campbell visits the Richard Rose Central Academy - which only opened its doors in September - to find out why the school has already put special measures in place.

After the Rwandan genocide 15 years ago, many of the Hutu militia responsible for the killing escaped over the border into Eastern Congo. Now, the Congolese government has enlisted the help of the Rwandan army to remove them. East Africa correspondent Karen Allen reports on the problems that this could create in an already unstable region of Africa.

Business news with Adam Shaw.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has said that the global downturn has had "a rather big impact" on China's economy in a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Today presenter Evan Davis speaks to Stephen Roach, chairman of Morgan Stanley's Asia operations, about whether China will help or hinder western economies in the financial crisis.

A report into literacy has said that too many people lack the correct level of basic skills, but could the problem be related to the English language rather than the standard of teaching? Professor Peter Tymms, director of the Curriculum, Evaluation and Management Centre at Durham University, discusses whether other English-speaking countries face similar problems.

The ancient site of Babylon was seriously damaged during the invasion of Iraq. Professor John Curtis, of the British Museum, has been cataloguing the destruction. He discusses the archaeological importance of the area and the condition the site is currently in.


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