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Page last updated at 07:30 GMT, Wednesday, 17 March 2010
Today: Wednesday 17th March

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Head teachers are urging the government to take immediate action after a legal drug was linked to the deaths of two teenagers. And nearly 30,000 hospital beds in England should be axed to save money and improve care, a think tank says.

The NHS should cut more than 30,000 hospital beds to save money and improve patient care, according to the think tank Reform. It says the initiative would create competition and drive up standards. Reform's director Andrew Haldenby, and Chairman of the British Medical Association Consultants' Committee Dr Mark Porter, debate the effect of slashing hospital bed numbers.

The US special envoy George Mitchell has cancelled a trip to the Middle East in protest to Israel's announcement that it is to begin a new settlement project. The move is being seen as a part of a huge breakdown in relations between Israel and the US. Middle East correspondent Paul Wood reports from Israel.

Headteachers are calling for urgent government action to tackle the rising tide in school children using the legal high, mephedrone. Yesterday Humberside police revealed that two teenagers had died from a suspected overdose of the drug. Mick Brookes, general secretary of the National Association of Headteachers, outlines its call for the drug to be banned.

The business news with Adam Shaw.

Sports news with Garry Richardson.

A group of British churches are issuing guidance on the morality of pay, fearing that the pay levels enjoyed by many senior executives in business and industry threaten to alienate them from the rest of society. Bill Seddon, chief executive of the Methodist Church's central finance board, explains the guidance.

A recent documentary, Requiem for Detroit, tells the story of the city through the 20th century, conveying its transition from Motor City to its rebirth as an urban prairie. Principal Asenath Andrews who is teaching Detroit's single mothers to become farmers, describes how the city is changing.

The paper review

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled that adverts created on behalf of the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and based on the children's poems Jack and Jill and Rub-A-Dub-Dub made exaggerated claims about the threat to Britain from global warming. Guy Parker, the ASA's chief executive, and the Climate Secretary, Ed Miliband, debate the ruling.

Thought for the day with Oliver McTernan, director of the NGO Forward Thinking.

Yesterday Palestinians staged violent demonstrations in Jerusalem over Israel's plans to build more Jewish homes. US special envoy George Mitchell has cancelled plans to attend peace talks in the Middle East in response to Israel's announcement. James Rubin, informal foreign policy advisor to Hillary Clinton and President Obama, considers the fallout from Israel's settlement plans, and Ron Prosser, Israel's ambassador to London, defends Israel's proposals.

The government is reviewing the classification of legal drug mephedrone after two teenagers died from a suspected overdose. The drug can be easily bought from a dealer or online and has similar effects to using cocaine and ecstasy. Science reporter Tom Feilden explains why a report on the drug may be delayed and Dr David Wood, consultant clinical toxicologist at Guys and St Thomas's hospital, describes the reported effects of mephedrone.

Two British soldiers from the 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment have been killed following an explosion in Afghanistan's Helmand province. The BBC's Quentin Sommerville reports on the deaths.

The strike by British Airways cabin crew has thrown the operations of the Unite union and the role of its political director Charlie Whelan into the spotlight. The Conservatives claim that the union's influence shows "the spirit of Seventies socialist nostalgia has recaptured the Labour party." Political editor Nick Robinson examines Unite's influence on the Labour Party.

Maybe it is better when you are travelling to have poetry book in your hand, not a guide book in your hand. A new volume, Highlands and Islands, tries to tie place and poetry together. Mary Miers, arts and books editor for Country Life magazine, and novelist Jeanette Winterson, reflect on why landscape has proved so alluring for poets.

Sports news with Garry Richardson.

Rules banning hospital doctors and visitors from sitting on patients' beds are "dehumanising" care, according to London GP Dr Iona Heath. Many NHS hospitals and treatment centres have told doctors, friends and family not to sit on beds in a bid to stop the spread of infections such as MRSA. Dr Heath and Dr David Tomlinson, medical director for Care UK, debate the effects of the ban.

Every year on March 16th World War II veterans place flowers on a monument to commemorate their friends and comrades who died defending Latvia against Stalin's Soviet invaders. But these veterans fought while serving in Hitler's army, wearing the uniforms of the Waffen SS. Many of those who take part in the event are members of nationalist groups, such as the far-right Fatherland and Freedom party, the party that sits with the Conservatives in the European Conservatives and Reformists group in the European Parliament. Correspondent Damien McGuinness went to this year's commemoration.

The business news with Adam Shaw.

Fertility doctors are offering the chance to win a free donor egg treatment cycle to someone who attends a seminar in London and is medically eligible for the treatment. The winner will be able to select the donor of the egg on race, background, and other characteristics, something that is not currently possible in the UK. Dr Laurence Udoff, a reproductive endocrinologist at the Genetics and IVF Institute which is offering the free treatment, and Dr Allan Pacey, fertility expert at the University of Sheffield, debate the ethics of this new competition.

For years they have been part of the French lifestyle, but local cafes are now becoming an endangered species in France. At least two go out of business every day. David Chazan reflects on the demise of the French cafe.

The shadow home secretary Chris Grayling has called for a ban on legal drug mephedrone, thought to be responsible for the death of two teenagers. Mr Grayling outlines why he believes the drug's classification should be changed.



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