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Page last updated at 06:20 GMT, Thursday, 17 September 2009 07:20 UK
Today: Thursday 17 September 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.

Ballot papers proposing a national strike at the Royal Mail over pay and job cuts are being sent out to members of the main postal union. And Health Secretary Andy Burnham is to announce that GP catchment areas are to be scrapped in England within a year.


GP catchment areas are to be scrapped in England within a year, Health Secretary Andy Burnham will say later. Dr Laurence Buckman, chairman of the BMA's GP committee, discusses whether more choice will drive up standards.


US President Barack Obama does not believe current criticism of his policies is based on the colour of his skin, the White House has said. North America editor Mark Mardell visits South Carolina to gauge reaction to the outburst in Congress against Mr Obama that led to the rebuke of Republican lawmaker Joe Wilson.


What public services will the UK have in 2020? Sir Andrew Foster, former chief executive of the Audit Commission, considers how cuts in public spending could affect the services available to the taxpayer.

Business news with Adam Shaw.


Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw has called for changes to the way the BBC is governed and said there may be "a case" for the licence fee to be cut. John Whittingdale MP, chairman of the culture, media and support committee, considers whether the BBC has reached the limits of its "reasonable expansion".

Sports news with Jon Myers.


Around 1.5 million Somalis have been forced from their homes since a surge in fighting between government forces and Islamic militia groups in 2007. In the second of his reports from the country, correspondent Mike Thomson talks to a young mother who has just fled from Somalia with her four remaining children.

Today's papers.


Flavio Briatore has left his position as boss of the Renault team after they decided not to contest charges of fixing the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix. Former F1 world champion Damon Hill discusses the extent of the damage done to motor racing by the scandal.

Thought for the day with Canon Lucy Winkett, of St Paul's Cathedral.


More than 70,000 members of Britain's armed forces have served in Afghanistan since 2001 and the number of personnel killed since the start of operations now totals 214. Denise Harris, the mother of Corporal Lee Scott, and Lucy Aldridge, the mother of Rifleman William Aldridge, discuss the death of their sons and their attempt to show soldiers in Afghanistan they have support at home.


Ballot papers for a national strike at Royal Mail over pay and job cuts are being sent out to the main postal union. Dave Ward, of the Communication Workers Union, Mark Higson, managing director of Royal Mail Letters, and Sean Rickard, of the Cranfield School of Management, discuss the future of the postal service.


The Wall Street Journal is reporting that President Obama is to scrap US plans for a missile defence shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. Correspondents Mike Wooldridge and Adam Easton reflect on the claims made by the newspaper.


More than 1,000 costumes, 70 acrobats and dancers, 32 horses, 100 doves, three falcons, two eagles, two vultures and two donkeys appear in the stage show Ben Hur Live. Composer and narrator Stuart Copeland, founder of band the Police, discusses the extravaganza based on an 1880 novel which turned into a 1959 Charlton Heston screen epic.

Sports news with Jon Myers.


The BBC Trust, which sets the corporation's strategy and upholds standards, could not be both "regulator and cheerleader" for ever, Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw says. Sir Michael Lyons, chairman of the BBC Trust, considers the future of his organisation.


What will happen next in fertility treatment and embryo research?, The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) is looking ahead at what might present some of the challenges in the future. Reporter Tom Feilden and Lisa Jardine, of the HFEA, discuss the accuracy of so-called "horizon scanning" in predicting the future direction of research.


Mary Travers - a member of the hugely popular 1960s US folk group Peter, Paul and Mary - has died aged 72. The Today programme plays tribute to the folk star by playing one of the group's most famous hits - Puff The Magic Dragon.

Business news with Adam Shaw.


Afghan President Hamid Karzai's campaign team has condemned as "irresponsible" claims by EU monitors about the extent of election fraud. Correspondent Allan Little reports on the reliability of the final preliminary result which gives Mr Karzai victory with 54.6%.


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