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Page last updated at 08:18 GMT, Saturday, 13 February 2010
Today: Saturday 13th February

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British, US, and Afghan troops have begun a new offensive against the Taliban in their stronghold in southern Afghanistan. And the death of a Georgian competitor has overshadowed the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

More than 15,000 British, US and Afghan troops have launched the biggest offensive in Afghanistan since the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001. Correspondent Martin Patience outlines the assault's aims.

The leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, has claimed that some NHS hospitals see patients as no more than a set of medical problems, and therefore fail to comfort them and relieve their suffering. Religious affairs correspondent Robert Piggott examines Archbishop Nichols' comments.

The paper review.

Sixty-five years ago tonight RAF bombers began a devastating raid against the eastern German city of Dresden in a controversial bomb campaign against the Nazis. Around 25,000 people died in the onslaught. A campaign is under-way for a permanent memorial for the brave aircrews who constituted Britain's Second Front across Europe against Nazi Germany. Reporter Andrew Hosken spoke to a Bomber Command veteran and a survivor of the Dresden attack.

A 21 hour working week could be "inevitable", according to a New Economics Foundation think tank report. It argues that a much shorter working week could help to tackle overwork, unemployment, inequalities, and cut carbon emissions. Mark Littlewood, director-general of the Institute for Economic Affairs, and Anna Coote, head of social policy at New Economics Foundation, debate the pros and cons of a shorter working week.

Sports news with Rob Bonnet.

Farming must fully embrace genetically modified (GM) crops to meet the dual challenges of population growth and global warming, according to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's chief scientist, Nina Fedoroff. Ms Fedoroff's comments follow India's decision to delay cultivating its first genetically modified vegetable crop over safety concerns. Sir David King, director of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment and former government chief scientific adviser, examines the barriers to broadening the use of GM crops.

A Somali TV channel based in Walthamstow, East London, is campaigning for the release of a British couple being held hostage by Somali pirates. Have Your Say on Universal TV is using its reach to Somalis around the world to broadcast pleas for the release of Paul and Rachel Chandler who have been held captive since October last year. Ridwaan Haji Abdiwali, Have Your Say's presenter, explains why the programme has dedicated itself to the cause.

The paper review.

Thousands of British, US and Afghan troops have launched the biggest offensive in Afghanistan since the conflict began in 2001. Frank Gardner, currently at Kandahar airbase, Nato's headquarters in southern Afghanistan, outlines the latest moves in the offensive.

Thought for the day with Canon David Winter.

A government personal care which aims to help 400,000 people is being criticised by local councils who will bear the brunt of the funding. It comes as private cross party talks over the long-term care for the elderly broke down in acrimony this week. Sir Jeremy Beecham, vice-chair of the Local Government Association which represents local authorities in England, examines the challenges to council funding of long-term care for the elderly.

Afghan-Nato forces have launched Operation Moshtarak in Afghanistan, the biggest offensive against the Taliban since the start of the war in 2001. Thousands of British, US, and Afghan troops landed by helicopter under darkness to begin their offensive to regain government control of central Helmand. Major General Nick Carter, Nato's regional commander for south Afghanistan tells Today presenter John Humphrys that "the overall insertion has gone remarkably well."

New evidence could shed light on the investigation into scientific evidence produced the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia after allegations that it exaggerated climate data. Environment analyst Roger Harrabin spoke to the CRU's Prof Phil Jones about "Climategate".

Do you suffer from coulrophobia? A circus festival in Blackpool opening today is running a workshop to help visitors scared of clowns overcome their fears. Paul Salkovskis, professor of clinical psychology at Maudsley Hospital, discusses what makes people afraid of clowns, and Rhubarb the clown shows why he believes clowns are not scary.

Sports news with Rob Bonnet.

The Greek debt crisis continues to hit the value of the Euro despite the efforts of the largest eurozone countries to agree a bail-out package at an emergency summit earlier this week. Former EU Commissioner Lord Patten examines what Greece's problems tell us about the strength and quality of the EU's leadership.

The paper review.

Afghan-Nato forces have launched Operation Moshtarak, the long-awaited offensive against the Taliban in southern Afghanistan. Evening Standard defence correspondent Robert Fox analyses the challenges for retaining Afghan control in the area.

South African playwright Athol Fugard has returned to his homeland for the opening of a new theatre bearing his name. An old warehouse and church have been transformed into The Fugard theatre in an area of Cape Town -- District Six -- which came to symbolise the abuses of the apartheid system. Correspondent Karen Allen spoke to Mr Fugard at the theatre's opening night.

Anglicans have moved closer to a possible merger with the Methodist church at the Church of England's General Synod. Bishop of Leicester Tim Stevens, and President of the Methodist Conference Reverend David Gamble, discuss the outcome of the General Synod and whether the Anglican leadership has done enough to address its divisions.



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