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Page last updated at 07:30 GMT, Wednesday, 13 January 2010
Today: Wednesday 13th January

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

Hundreds of people are feared dead after a powerful earthquake struck Haiti, causing massive damage across the country. And internet giant Google says it may end its operations in China after hackers targeted the e-mail accounts of Chinese human rights activists.


A 7.0-magnitude earthquake has struck Haiti, the strongest quake to hit the country for more than two centuries. Thousands of people are feared dead and injured. Eyewitnesses say a hospital on the outskirts of the capital, Port-au-Prince, has collapsed, along with the presidential palace. Dr Roger Musson, head of seismic hazard at the British Geological Survey in Edinburgh, examines the cause of the quake.


The Conservatives are calling for changes to labelling on alcoholic drinks. They say the current approach of using alcohol units is widely misunderstood, and want it replaced with centilitres. Shadow Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley, discusses the policy.


Has your car had an MOT test lately? The pass rate of some of the most popular cars driven by UK motorists, including Vauxhall Corsas and Ford Mondeos, have a failure rate of 20 - 24%, twice as high as some other brands. The data was uncovered by the BBC under a freedom of information request. James Ruppert, special correspondent for Autocar magazine and Martin Rosenbaum, BBC freedom of information expert, discuss the variations in MOT pass rate.

Business news with Adam Shaw.


A fundraising campaign to raise more than £3m to buy the hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold unearthed last year is being launched. The fund will be used to give the treasure a permanent home in the West Midlands. Phil Mackie reports on the campaign, and historian David Starkey discuses the gold's historic value.

The sports news with Garry Richardson.


The internet giant Google has said it might pull out of China, after hackers tried to access the googlemail accounts of human rights campaigners in the country. The company says it is no longer willing to operate under restrictions, in line with a deal with the government. Peter Barron, Google's director of communications and public affairs for North and Central Europe, discusses the Chinese internet restrictions.


Talks over the devolution of policing and justice powers in Northern Ireland are at a "sensitive and serious stage", the leader of Sinn Fein, Gerry Adams, has warned. Months of talks have so far failed, and revelations of the DUP leader, Peter Robinson's, family problems has increased pressure for his party to reach a deal with Sinn Fein. Mr Adams himself has faced accusations of covering up the extent of his involvement with his brother, who is wanted by the police service on child abuse charges. Sarah Montague investigates how Mr Adams is viewed in Northern Ireland.

The paper review.


Small birds and wildlife are struggling to find food and water in the cold and icy conditions. Stephen Moss, reporter for BBC's Snow Watch, discusses how birds are faring in the big freeze.

Thought for the day with the writer, Rhidian Brook.


The armed forces may have to shrink by a fifth, a Royal United Services Institute (Rusi) review into defence spending has found. The suggested cuts form a long line of public sector reviews in light of the recession. The report's author, Professor Malcolm Chalmers, discusses the future of defence policy.


Hundreds of people are feared dead after an earthquake measuring 7.0 on the richter scale struck off the coast of Haiti. Eyewitnesses say a hospital on the outskirts of the capital and the presidential palace, have collapsed. Rescue efforts have begun to try and find survivors and help the injured. Nan Buzard, head of international disaster response at the American Red Cross, discusses the rescue effort in a country plagued by poverty.


Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair's former director of communications, has told the Chilcott Inquiry that there was no "precipitate rush to war" during the build up to the Iraq invasion. Mr Campbell also revealed that Mr Blair had written privately to President Bush, promising Britain's support in the event of military action. Anthony Seldon, Tony Blair's biographer, and David Clark, foreign office press officer to Robin Cook, debate Mr Campbell's evidence.


Musician Robert Wyatt guest edited the Today programme on New Year's Day. One of his items asked amateur choirs to send the sound of their song to the Today programme. Since then we have been inundated with requiems, carols, and folk songs.

Professor Stephen Clift, director of the Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health, Canterbury Christ Church University, discusses what makes choral singing so popular.

The sports news with Garry Richardson.


An interim chairman for the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs is to be announced, following the sacking of Professor David Nutt. Professor Nutt was fired by Home Secretary Alan Johnson after disagreements with government policy on the classification of drugs. Colin Blakemore, professor of neuroscience at Oxford University and former chief executive of the Medical Research Council, examines whether the new chair will have more freedom.


There are tough choices to be made in public spending to reduce the treasury's £178bn budget deficit. One area that is likely to come under scrutiny is the defence budget. Both Labour and the Conservatives have promised a defence spending review if they are elected. Today the Royal United Service Institute has published a paper warning that frontline forces will have to fall by a fifth. Sir Menzies Campbell, former Liberal Democrat leader, examines public spending.

Business news with Adam Shaw.

The T S Eliot Prize for Poetry awards the author of the best new collection of poetry published in the UK and Ireland. In the second reading poet Jane Draycott reads her shortlisted poem.


An investigation by the Today programme into a Chinook helicopter crash in 1994, revealed that there were serious concerns about computer software used to control the engines. A bitter debate has now ensued in the letters pages of the national newspapers. Reporter Angus Stickler has been unpicking the detail.


The number and variety of plant and animal species is under threat. The United Nations has declared 2010 The International Year of Biodiversity, and scientists are meeting at the Royal Society to discuss how science can best respond to the threat posed by the loss of animals and plants that provide useful services by pollinating crops, cleaning water or capturing carbon dioxide. Professor Lord Robert May, former president of the Royal Society, discusses the decline in bio-diversity.



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