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Page last updated at 06:46 GMT, Thursday, 30 July 2009 07:46 UK
Today: Thursday 30 July 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.

Some drug dealers should be tolerated because arresting them can increase violent crime, according to a new report by the UK Drug Policy Commission. And new figures suggest that open-heart surgery is becoming much safer in the UK.


Mortality rates for heart by-pass patients have fallen by 35%. The data is being published after a scandal over heart surgery on babies in Bristol. John Royce, who had a by-pass operation, discusses the care he received, and Ben Bridgewater, a consultant cardiac surgeon at University Hospital of South Manchester, discusses the figures.


The mourning ceremony of Nedha Soltan, who was killed in opposition protests following the election in Iran, is to take place. Correspondent Jon Leyne reports from Iran on the significance of the death that was seen by millions of people around the world after a video of her death was posted on the internet.


The BBC's ban on reporting from Zimbabwe has been lifted by the Zimbabwean government. Andrew Harding reports from the capital, Harare, on the current state of the country.

Business news with Richard Scott.


Voting is closing in the Conservative parliamentary candidate elections for Totnes in Devon. The vote is a party election first, as the Conservative party is offering all sixty thousand voters in the constituency a say on who should be their candidate. The election was called after Anthony Sheen resigned following the expenses scandal. Political correspondent Norman Smith reports on the success of the US-style primary.

Sports news with Rob Bonnet.


A report by the think tank UK Drug Policy Commission says that drug enforcement in the UK needs to be changed, as arrests and drug seizures do not always lead to lower availability of drugs or fewer problems. Home affairs editor Mark Easton explains the report findings.

Today's papers.


Smooth snakes, Britain's rarest reptile, are to be reintroduced to Devon after an absence of 50 years. Tony Whitehead, from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, discusses why the Smooth snake needs a helping hand.

Thought for the day with The Reverend Angela Tilby, Vicar of St Bene't's Church in Cambridge.


Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth has brought forward the review of the way compensation is paid to wounded soldiers. It follows a public outcry this week over the attempts by the ministry of defence to pursue two soldiers in the courts to reduce their payments. Mr Ainsworth discusses the future of compensation for military personnel.


A UK Drugs Policy Commission report has found that drug laws might be worsening drug problems instead of improving them. The report has found that arresting drug dealers and disrupting their networks may create more harm to the community than leaving them alone, and that tolerating some drug dealing could help reduce violent crime. Roger Howard, chief executive of the UK Drug Policy Commission, and Iain Duncan Smith, Chairman of the think tank the Centre for Social Justice, discuss the report's findings.


The BBC has been told it can now report from Zimbabwe. Correspondent Andrew Harding reports from Harare, where he has been speaking to John Nkomo, Chairman of the Zanu PF party.


The last of the British survivors of World War I have died. Henry Allingham's funeral takes place today, with the funeral of Harry Patch to follow next week. To mark the occasion, the Today programme asked Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, to write a poem.

Sports news with Rob Bonnet.


Sir John Chilcot, chairman of the Iraq inquiry, is to set out the questions he will consider. The inquiry follows a number of previous inquiries into the Iraq war. Lord Anderson, chair of the foreign affairs committee inquiry which looked into the decision to go to war, and Sir Menzies Campbell, former Liberal democrat leader and critic of the war, discuss the inquiry and what it might find.

Business news with Richard Scott.


The Bristol babies scandal a decade ago has led to more transparency on the performance of heart surgery. Professor Ian Kennedy, former chair of the Healthcare Commission, discusses the importance of more transparent NHS data.


The writer Graham Greene's book, Journey without Maps, follows his 1935 journey through Sierra Leone and Liberia. The book questions the intentions of the West in Africa. Correspondent Humphrey Hawksley retraces Graham Greene's journey and reports whether 80 years later, the West's presence in Africa has changed.


A senior lawyer has warned that the £2bn legal aid budget which allows anybody, regardless of wealth, to defend their legal rights and and prosecute a just claim, cannot cope with the budget cuts the government is proposing. Carolyn Regan, chief executive of the Legal Services Commission, discusses the implications of reducing the budget.


A novel about a group of journalists in Africa has made the nominations for this year's Booker prize. Not Untrue and Not Unkind tells the story of their friendship, rivalry and betrayal. The book's author and former foreign correspondent, Ed O'Loughlin, and foreign correspondent Martin Bell, discuss why foreign correspondents attract so much interest.



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