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Page last updated at 07:34 GMT, Monday, 1 March 2010
Today: Monday 1 March

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Rescue teams in Chile are finding more bodies of people killed by the devastating earthquake two days ago. A BBC survey suggests councils in England may cut 25,000 jobs by 2015 to save money. And should the Conservatives be worried by a closing in their opinion poll lead over Labour?

Over the next three-to-five years 25,000 council jobs could be lost in England, according to a BBC survey of local authorities. Councils expect funding from central government to decrease significantly and many plan to cut both jobs and services. Yorkshire political correspondent Len Tingle, West Midlands political editor Patrick Burns and Tony Travers of the London School of Economics discuss whether councils are right to anticipate cuts of 10 to 15%.

Since last autumn the BBC has been carrying out a major review of its future, including how big it should be and how it can provide more of the programmes that people actually want. Leaks to the newspapers suggest the review will mean closing two radio stations, the Asian Network and 6 Music, as well as cuts to the BBC's web operation. John Humphrys reports on some of the big questions facing the BBC.

Business news with Adam Shaw.

Microsoft is to send a message to millions of its users across Britain and the rest of Europe inviting them to consider using rival software like Firefox or Google Chrome. The move is part of a settlement of a long-running dispute with the EU about the way Microsoft uses its dominance to promote its own web browser. Technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones reports on how millions of people who have never really thought about which browser to use will now be invited to make a choice.

Sports news with Rob Bonnet.

A frantic effort is going on behind the scenes in Afghanistan to try to train the local army and police in sufficient numbers and with sufficient skills so that they can take over the fight against the Taliban in the middle of next year. General William Caldwell, who is in charge of training the Afghan army and police, discusses whether the Afghan troops he has been helping to train were up to the job they were being asked to do.

The paper review.

"We face a catastrophe of such unthinkable magnitude that it will require a giant effort." That is how Chile's President Michelle Bachelet has described the situation after Saturday's earthquake. Our correspondent Candace Piette is in Santiago and describes how whole villages have been reduced to matchsticks and houses are floating in the sea.

American singer-songwriter and artist Patti Smith is reading the "Book of the Week" on Radio 4 starting this morning. Correspondent Nicola Stanbridge talks to Patti about the book which she explains is a memoir about her early years with the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in New York City.

Thought for the day with Rev Dr Dr David Wilkinson, Principal of St John's College Durham.

Why are UK voters so unsure about the Conservative party? They had a 26-point poll lead 18 months ago, but according to a YouGov Sunday Times poll, that lead is down to just two points. David Cameron addressed the Tories' spring conference yesterday and admitted that his party faced a "real fight". John Strafford, who runs the Conservative Campaign for Democracy, and the Spectator's editor, Fraser Nelson, discuss what Cameron and his party have done to deserve such a drastic fall in support in the crucial run-up to the general election.

The BBC has conducted a survey of English local authorities' expected levels of cuts to budgets, jobs and services over the next 3-5 years. The results show budget reductions of up to 30% and at least 25,000 job losses in the next three-to-five years as funding levels are cut. The project is being led by BBC local radio who have had a response from 60% of England's councils. Communities Secretary John Denham discusses the impact the recession is having on public services across the country.

Earlier in the programme John Humphrys introduced a new series that the Today programme will be running over the next few days, on the future of the BBC. Press leaks suggest the corporation's forthcoming strategy review will mean closing two radio stations, the Asian Network and 6 Music, as well as cuts to the BBC's web operation. John has been conducting his own review and in his first reports asks the BBC is facing so much hostility at the moment.

Sports news with Rob Bonnet.

The board of Prudential - responding to press speculation has confirmed it is in "advanced discussions" with AIG to buy the A Asian part of the American firm's business. The BBC's business editor Robert Peston reacts to the potential $20bn deal.

Forty-eight hours after the Chilean earthquake, the scale of its impact is becoming apparent, including widespread destruction in the country's coastal areas and the resultant tsunami. Charlotte Mountford, a British woman working in Santiago, who was on the 14th floor of an apartment building when the earthquake hit, describes her experiences and Chile's ambassador to the UK, Rafael Moreno, details the scale of the problems facing his country.

The civil rights leader Jesse Jackson is to address the Cambridge Union with a speech on human rights in the United States and abroad. He will also take questions on subjects ranging from Barack Obama's first year in office to healthcare reform. Mr Jackson explains how last week he helped launch a registration drive by campaign group Operation Black Vote, unveiling a 100-foot billboard poster bearing the slogan: "Expect the best from yourself and society. Register to vote".

Business news with Adam Shaw.

Hanif Kureishi used to be seen as an enfant terrible of books, shocking the literary world with some of his work. Now in his mid-50s , and with a new collection of short stories, he has said that if they are lucky, writers get ten years when they are considered young and fashionable before their work varies and goes up and down. Hanif Kureishi reflects on middle age and growing old gracefully.

More than half a million pupils in England are finding out which secondary schools they will attend next autumn. Last year one-in-six did not get the school they wanted. Education law specialist Anita Chopra and Chair of Comprehensive Future Fiona Millar discuss how parents have the right to express a school preference, but how every year many trying to get their children into over-subscribed schools are left disappointed.



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