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Page last updated at 07:07 GMT, Monday, 6 April 2009 08:07 UK
Today: Monday 6 April 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.

A strong earthquake has struck central Italy, killing several people and causing buildings to collapse. Economic forecasters say the government will need to find an extra £40bn a year by 2016 to bring borrowing under control. And is our love of art is linked to evolution?


Most of the world, including Washington and Tokyo, agree it was "completely unacceptable" for North Korea to launch its rocket. But an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council did not agree anything after Russia and China refused to go along with a resolution condemning North Korea. The country with the most to worry about is South Korea. Correspondent John Sudworth reports. Hazel Smith, professor of Security and Resilience at the Cranfield University, discusses the threat of the missile.


An earthquake has struck central Italy with its epicentre about 90 kilometres north-east of Rome. There are estimates of some 10,000 houses being damaged and at least four confirmed dead. Agostino Miozzo, a spokesman for Italy's Civil Protection agency, which is co-ordinating the rescue operation, discusses how thousands of people could be left homeless after thousands of buildings collapsed.


According to the best guess of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, whoever is Chancellor after the next election might have to take steps that raise tax or cut spending by about £1,250 per family per year. That's in addition to the measures already by the Chancellor in his pre-budget report last year. Evan Davis talks to three MPs at Westminster who are ready to take up the challenge.


Four in 10 teachers have faced verbal or physical aggression from a pupil's parent or guardian, according to the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL). And of the 1,000 teachers surveyed, a quarter said a pupil had attacked them. Mary Bousted, of ATL, says it is shocking that over a third of teaching staff have experienced aggression from students' parents or guardians.

Sports news with Rob Bonnet.


Catering companies and restaurant chains including Burger King, Pizza Hut and Pret a Manger are to publish details of the calorie content of each dish on their menus. The voluntary scheme run by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) is the latest move to tackle Britain's mounting obesity problem. The chief executive of the FSA, Tim Smith, visits a nearby Burger King and explains how people want to be able to see how many calories are in the food and drink they order when they eat out.

Today's papers


Postal workers who drop red rubber bands used for bundling letters in the street are being targeted by anti-litter campaigners. Dickie Fields from Keep Britain Tidy warns how those caught dropping litter face on-the-spot fines of £80, and said postal workers should not be above the law.


The liberation of Paris in August 1944 was a great moment in the long fight against Nazi Germany and its racist ideology. But what is not widely known is that British and American commanders deliberately excluded black French soldiers from taking part in the liberation. Correspondent Mike Thomson reports on how papers have come to light which show that colonial troops, mainly from West Africa, formed a large part of the Free French forces, but it was a "whites only" force that marched into the city.

Thought for the day with Reverend Dr Giles Fraser, Vicar of Putney.


Once again the security council of the United Nations has failed to deliver the goods when it comes to uniting in the face of what most of its members see as a potential threat to international order. An emergency meeting was called to condemn North Korea for firing a rocket capable of carrying a nuclear warhead but China and Russia used their vetoes to stop it. Foreign Office Minister Bill Rammell discusses why North Korea launched the rocket.


At least 20 people have died, in a powerful earthquake that has struck central Italy. Anna-Maria Spennati, who is an English teacher in L'Aquila, explains what has happened to the town and Dr Roger Musson, a seismologist with the British Geological Survey, says that because the area is densely populated, the effect is likely to be devastating.


With all main parties struggling to grasp the implications of the recession on public spending, the Today programme has been given exclusive access to new IFS figures that show the extent of the fiscal challenge facing the country. Shadow Chancellor George Osborne examines the figures.

Sports news with Rob Bonnet.


Scientists hope they are entering a new era of stem cell research, as President Obama sweeps away the restrictions imposed under President Bush. Professor Bob Nerem, one of the world's leading stem cell scientists, says he sees the Obama presidency as a new era for this area of science, which will provide new opportunities to work together with UK and European partners.


President Obama has arrived in Turkey, where, as with the other legs of his European tour, he has a busy schedule of public appearances and private talks. Behind the scenes he is bringing with him a large court of supporters and journalists, many of whom spend every waking moment watching him and bringing news of his efforts back to America. North America Editor Justin Webb is travelling with them.

Today's papers


If the figures that the Institute for Fiscal Studies have produced are right, the next Parliament will have to take 5% of national income, in the form of higher taxes or lower spending, and use it to cut government borrowing. That kind of money-raising will dominate the life of the next government. The last person to have to sort out such a big fiscal problem was Norman Lamont in his 1993 budget. Lord Lamont discusses what such fiscal tightening is like.


As an earthquake hits central Italy, Duncan Kennedy reports on the devastation caused.


Over the last few years, there has been an increased tendency to think that all kinds of human behaviour is somehow related to evolution. The Language Instinct, for instance, argued that language is as much a part of our make-up as web-weaving is for a spider. But what about art? Professor Denis Dutton and a senior lecturer in philosophy, Nigel Warburton, discuss humanity's love of art.


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