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Page last updated at 06:24 GMT, Friday, 2 April 2010 07:24 UK
Today: Friday 2nd April

Israeli warplanes have carried out air strikes on the Gaza Strip, which the Israeli military says were targeting weapons factories. And RMT union members are to re-balloted after a rail strike was halted in the High Court.

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The annual meeting of teachers' unions this year takes place under the spectre of industrial action over tests for 11 year-olds in England. Sats tests in English and Maths are used to draw up the primary school league tables, but the National Union of teachers (NUT) is opposed to the exams arguing they narrow the curriculum in the final year of primary school and are an inaccurate tool to measure a school's success. Reporter Gillian Hargreaves spent a day with students preparing for their Sats exams.

A planned four-day national rail strike has been called off after it was challenged in the High Court. Network Rail was granted an injunction after it alleged discrepancies in the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT's) ballot for industrial action. The first ballot of British Airways cabin crew at Christmas was also postponed due to successful court action. Alex Bryson of the National Institute of Social and Economic Research, examines whether employers are increasingly looking to the courts to avert strikes.

The party leaders are vying for the Roman Catholic vote in an email interview for a new Catholic magazine, Faith Today, launching this weekend. Journalist Joanna Moorhead who carried out the interviews, reflects on each of the leaders' interviews.

The business news with Adam Shaw.

As the Easter getaway begins, a new study has found that the average road user spends six months of their life stuck in "phantom" traffic, queues with no obvious cause. Dr Eddie Wilson, a reader in engineering mathematics at the University of Bristol which has carried out the research, explains the findings.

Sports news with Rob Bonnet.

The Royal College of Surgeons is calling for NHS trauma services in England to help curb the epidemic of alcohol misuse by providing advice to patients during their treatment. The same approach is currently used in Wales and is seen as a success. Catherine Bridgeman, nurse manager at the University Dental Hospital in Cardiff, explains how the scheme works.

Major Richard Streatfeild has been sending us reports of his tour with the Rifles in Afghanistan's Helmand province. Since returning from leave last month three more of the men he commands in A company have been killed. In his latest despatch, Major Streatfeild describes how their colleagues have come to terms with the loss.

The paper review.

Sales of ski helmets have shot up in the past year following the death of actress Natasha Richardson who died after hitting her head in a skiing accident. But charity Headway are calling for a new European law to make the helmets compulsory. Flora Watkins reports from Chatel in the French Alps.

Yesterday the Today programme broadcast an item about playwright William Shakespeare which suggested that the famous Englishmen could have been French. The report, as many listeners guessed, was an April Fool. The Today programme would like to thank the former French Culture Minister and MP Jack Lang for his participation in the Poisson D'Avril.

Thought for the day with Dr Richard Chartres, Bishop of London.

An area around the exotic Chagos Islands is to be designated the world's largest marine reserve. The British territory in the Indian Ocean is one of the world's richest marine ecosystems but islanders, who were evicted to make way for the US air base on the island of Diego Garcia, warn that a reserve would ban them from returning. Alistair Gammel from the Pew Environment, and Dr Mark Spalding from the Conservation Science Group at Cambridge University, consider the effect of turning the island into a reserve.

A planned national rail strike by the RMT union has been called off after it was challenged in the High Court. Network Rail was granted an injunction after it alleged discrepancies in the RMT's ballot for industrial action. The union has pledged to re-ballot its members over the job cuts and working hours. Bob Crow, the RMT's general secretary, discusses the court ruling.

Has the British public lost their faith in Christianity? A new report has found that Church attendance figures are expected to fall by 55% between 1980 and 2020. Cole Moreton, author of Is God Still An Englishman? How we Lost our Faith, and David Voas, professor at the Institute at Social Change, examine what religion means in the UK today.

Sports news with Rob Bonnet.

Israel has launched its biggest set of air strikes on Gaza since the end of the Israeli assault in January 2009. According to Palestinian sources, there were 13 strikes including four near the town of Khan Younis. Gaza resident Mukhmaimar Abu-Sada describes the attacks and Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Shachar Arieli explains Israel's decision to carry out the airstrikes.

The business news with Adam Shaw.

Earlier this week the today programme reflected on the old fashion circus and how it compares to its modern day rival. During the item, presenter Evan Davis agreed to attempt a classic circus feat, escaping from chains and a straitjacket.

Teachers' unions will consider industrial action over Sat tests for 11 year-olds at their annual Easter conference. Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at the University of Buckingham, and Dr Lee Elliot Major, director of Research and Policy at Sutton Trust, discuss whether Sat exams should be abolished.

The Mekong River which winds its way through Southeast Asia, is at its lowest level for 50 years. Chinese building and construction is being blamed for diverting the river's flow from countries further downstream. Southeast Asian governments are holding a summit in Bangkok today to try to resolve the issue. Rachel Harvey reports from the conference.

British Airways strikes and possible strikes by rail workers have been deemed a "spring of discontent" by many newspapers, but of course the current situation is a far cry from the strikes of the 1970s. Sean Rickard of the Cranfield University School of Management, and David Aaronovitch, columnist for The Times, consider whether public support for strike action has declined.

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



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