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Page last updated at 07:31 GMT, Wednesday, 16 December 2009
Today: Wednesday 16th December

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

World leaders are gathering in Copenhagen to try to break the deadlock at the UN climate talks. And a suicide bomber has killed two British soldiers in Afghanistan.


A government agency is being urged by the parliamentary ombudsman to apologise and pay compensation to two farmers. Ann Abraham found that the farmers had "suffered injustice" at the hands of the officials as a result of the department's maladministration of EU grants under the Single Payment Scheme. Ms Abraham discusses the case.


Two British soldiers have been killed by a suicide bomb in Afghanistan. The men from the 3rd Battalion, The Rifles, were on patrol near Sangin yesterday. Two Afghan National Army soldiers were also killed. International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander comments on the incident.


Anti-capitalist demonstrators are threatening to disrupt the Copenhagen climate change talks today by staging simultaneous protests both outside and inside the conference centre. The campaigners claim the talks have been hijacked by the rich nations and big business, and say they want to bring proceedings to a halt. Correspondent Tom Feilden reports from Copenhagen on the prospects of a deal being rescued.

The business news with Adam Shaw.


The Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is expected to leave hospital today after being hit in the face during a walkabout at the weekend. Correspondent Steve Rosenberg outlines the incident.

The sports news with Garry Richardson.


Children with special educational needs need more support, according to an independent review. It found that the system is too difficult for parents to understand and that there needs to be greater transparency. It comes as the government prepares to announce today that it is setting up a national helpline to offer advice to parents. The report's author, Sir Brian Lamb, discusses his findings.

The paper review.


One of the most eagerly anticipated theatrical events of the year is opening tomorrow night. The updated version of Moliere's seventeenth century comedy, The Misanthrope. features a high profile cast led by Damien Lewis, and marks the professional stage debut of Keira Knightley. Following in the footsteps of Nicole Kidman and actor Daniel Radcliffe, she is the latest star to swop Hollywood glamour for the West End. Arts correspondent Rebecca Jones spoke to the actress about her move to the West End.


Two British soldiers from 3rd Battalion, The Rifles, were killed by a suicide bomber yesterday while on patrol with Afghan troops. Major Richard Streatfeild is also serving with 3 Rifles and has been sending the Today programme regular updates about life on the front line. In his latest despatch, recorded before the latest deaths, he describes some of the sights and smells for troops in Helmand province.

Thought for the day with Reverend Joel Edwards, the international director of Micah Challenge.


The Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson has said he is "disappointed" the government has not made more progress in dealing with serious and organised crime. Sir Paul called for the 40 or so police forces across the country to merge to better deal with international crime, but his advice has not been followed. Sir Paul discusses his first year as Met commissioner.


Do you make any payments by cheque? In the future you may have no choice but to pay electronically, by plastic, or go online if a vote goes through today to phase out the tradition dating back more than 300 years. The Payment Council, the body that sets strategy for how payments are made in the UK, is voting on whether cheques should be phased out completely by 2018. Sandra Quinn, spokesperson from the Payments Council, outlines the vote. Stephen Alambritis, head of public affairs at The Federation of Small Businesses, and Stephen Robertson, director of the British Retail Consortium, debate whether the cheque still has a purpose in modern society.


The government is "urgently" considering changes to the legal system after a district judge in London issued a warrant for the arrest of the former Israeli minister, Tzipi Livni, on charges of war crimes. the warrant was withdrawn after Ms Livni cancelled her trip. Mark Regev, spokesman for the Israeli government, reacts to the warrant.


When does a carol become a carol? The singer Chris Rea has been surprised by how many people have referred to his song Driving Home for Christmas as a carol. Mr Rea and Reverend Dr Ian Bradley, author of books about carols and hymns, define a carol.

The sports news with Garry Richardson.


Two serial sex attack court cases have highlighted failings in the way rape complaints are handled. Rapists Kirk Reid and John Worboys were not caught for years because police did not properly investigate victims' complaints, and more women suffered as a result. Baroness Stern, who has been carrying out a review into how public authorities respond to rape claims, discusses her assessments.


A controversy has erupted between rich and poor countries in Copenhagen after the UN secretary general said talks should focus on keeping global temperature rises below 2 degrees centigrade. In an interview with BBC News, Ban Ki-moon said the target was a realistic ambition for the climate summit. But developing nation delegates want emissions capped to limit the rise to 1.5c. Angelica Navarro, lead negotiator for Bolivia and a delegate in Copenhagen, discusses the developing nations' reaction to the remarks.

The business news with Adam Shaw.


A new campaign highlighting the amount of food wasted in the developing world, it to be launched today in Trafalgar Square, London. 5000 lunches will be provided from the food rejected by supermarkets for not being the right shape or size. 30-50 percent of First World food supplies are wasted.


Cash-strapped Western governments are making policy with one eye on their credit ratings, which are determined by ratings agencies. But is there an ideological bias built into what the ratings agencies expect from governments? Some critics say they want to see a neo-liberal economic model in place in return for the highest ratings. Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee, and economic adviser to the Arbuthnot Banking Group, Ruth Lea, discuss how far ratings influence policy.


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