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Page last updated at 07:21 GMT, Monday, 28 December 2009
Today: Monday 28th 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.

Relatives of a British man sentenced to death in China are to make a final appeal for clemency. And additional security measures are causing delays for air travellers in the wake of the attempted bombing of a transatlantic plane.


Last-minute appeals are being made to the president of China to spare the life of Briton Akmal Shaikh, who is due to be executed tomorrow. Mr Shaikh's cousins have arrived in Urumqi to plead with the authorities for mercy. Sally Rowan, legal director of the charity Reprieve, which has been helping the Shaikh family, discusses the appeals.


President Barack Obama has ordered a review of air security measures after a Nigerian man allegedly tried to blow up a transatlantic jet on Christmas Day. The president has ordered an examination into how the man carried an explosive on board a flight in Amsterdam. Sir John Wheeler, former UK security minister who undertook a review of airport security for both the British and Australian governments after 9/11, discusses airport security.


Water is feely available from taps, yet the bottled water industry in Britain is worth around £2bn a year. Today's guest editor Martin Rees and correspondent Mike Thomson examine the growth of the industry.

The business news with Nick Cosgrove.


Private and commercial services should be used to launch astronauts into space, according to a US committee looking at the future of human space flight. Today's guest editor, the Astronomer Royal Martin Rees and Dr Christopher Chyba, an advisor to President Obama and a member of the US committee, investigate the future of human space exploration.

Sports news with Rob Bonnet.


Police have killed four protestors during violent anti-government demonstrations in Iran, according to opposition sources. Independent verification of the reports is difficult after foreign journalists were banned from the country. Opposition supporter Masih Alinejad, and head of the centre for Iranian studies at Durham University, Dr Reza Molavi, discuss the significance of the protests.


With climate change and other scientifically based policies so high on the political agenda, it is surprising that only 12 MPs have a scientific background? Guest editor Martin Rees wanted to know if this lack of scientific knowledge damages Parliament's ability to make policy on such issues. Political correspondent Norman Smith investigated.

The paper review.


The 350th anniversary of the Royal Society is to be celebrated with a book of essays edited by author Bill Bryson. The writer, formerly known for his humorous travel books, became a best-selling science author after his book A History of Nearly Everything was published in 2003. Today's guest editor and President of the Royal Society, Martin Rees, spoke to Bill Bryson about how he came to write about science.

Thought for the day with Reverend Dr Michael Banner, Dean at Trinity College, Cambridge.


2010 has been declared the "Year of Biodiversity" by the United Nations. The issue of biodiversity and the continuing loss of plant and animal species divides conservationists and is to be the subject of a major conference being organised by the Royal Society, of which Today's guest editor Martin Rees, is president. Science correspondent Tom Feilden reports on the row over biodiversity, and Sir Partha Dasgupta, professor of economics at Cambridge, discusses the effect of plant and animal loss.


President Barack Obama has ordered a review of security measures after a man boarded a transatlantic flight allegedly carrying explosives. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, aged 23, was known to both US and British security agencies. Security correspondent Gordon Correra outlines the incident and Home Secretary Alan Johnson discusses the investigation.


Briton Akmal Shaikh is due to be executed in China tomorrow after being convicted of heroin smuggling. Appeals for clemency are to be made today in a last-minute plea to spare his life on the grounds of mental health. Mr Shaikh will be informed of the execution only hours before it is due to take place. Dr Kerry Brown, senior fellow of the Asia programme at the foreign affairs think tank Chatham House analyses the prospect that Chinese officials will grant a pardon.


Do you believe that aliens exist? Today's guest editor, Martin Rees, has a great interest in the subject, and asked us to talk to Paul Davies, a distinguished British scientist and chair of the Post-Detection Science and Technology Taskgroup at the International Academy of Astronautics. Professor Davies discusses evidence of intelligent life beyond earth.

Sports news with Rob Bonnet.


From the diverse range of bread in supermarkets, to public services, is there just too much choice available in today's market economy? Guest editor Martin Rees, behavioural economist Dan Ariely, and former adviser to Tony Blair, David Halpern, debate choice.


Today's guest editor and Astronomer Royal, Martin Rees would like to see better science fiction. Authors Brian Aldiss and Ian Stewart both discuss what makes gripping science fiction.

The business news with Nick Cosgrove.


This morning's guest editor, Martin Rees, wanted to pay tribute to the contribution made to science by dogs. A monument to Laika, the first dog in space, was unveiled in Russia last year. Dogs have been used in experiments for 350 years, and are still helping us understand weird and wonderful subjects. Reporter Nicola Stanbridge investigated how dogs are used in science.


There are conflicting accounts on the number of people killed during confrontations between the Iranian opposition and security forces yesterday. Correspondent Jon Leyne reports on the latest developments.


Today's guest editor, Martin Rees, discusses his experience of editing the Today programme.


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