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Page last updated at 07:42 GMT, Saturday, 18 December 2010
Today: Saturday 18th December

Snow and ice are causing disruption across the UK with hundreds of motorists spending much of the night stranded on the M6 motorway. Senior GPs say the UK could be facing a severe outbreak of flu, because of a drop in the number of people being immunised. And is cruelty necessary in good comedy?

To speed up the loading time for this running order, we have replaced the audio with links. To hear the reports, interviews and discussions, just click on the links.

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Blizzards and widespread ice in many parts of the UK are causing considerable disruption, with more wintry weather forecast for the weekend. Correspondent Helen Fawkes reports from Gatwick Airport.

As WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange prepares to defend himself in court, his supporters say they will continue to target companies that cut links with his website. Correspondent Rajesh Mirchandani reports from the hi-tech hub of Silicon Valley in California where the BBC has been allowed into one internet firm that came under attack.

Paper review.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe says his country will nationalise all US and UK companies operating in the country unless Western sanctions are removed. Correspondent Karen Allen reports from Zanu-PF party's annual conference.

Does the peer review system for scientific papers really work? Former editor of the British Medical Journal Richard Smith says the system has too many problems to be credible and would like to see it abandoned.

Sports news with Rob Bonnet.

The British Medical Association is warning that the seasonal flu outbreak could be particularly bad this year. Professor Dame Sally Davies, interim Chief Medical Officer for England, outlines her recommendation that those at risk ensure they are given their seasonal flu vaccination.

Government figures obtained by the Today programme show that thousands of boys start secondary school only able to reach the reading standard of seven-year-olds or below. Nottingham Labour MP Graham Allen discusses what to do for children who leave primary school and cannot read properly.

Paper review.

Hundreds of drivers have been stranded on the M6 overnight. Jon Caudwell from the Highways Agency, outlines how snowfall is affecting UK roads.

Thought for the Day with Reverend Rob Marshall, an Anglican priest.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles and Housing Minister Grant Shapps have been accused of behaving "like Laurel and Hardy" by a senior Liberal Democrat. Liberal Democrat MP Richard Kemp and Mr Shapps debate if Conservative ministers are not facing up to the reality of public spending cuts.

The founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, says he is convinced the US is preparing to indict him. Veteran journalist and Assange supporter John Pilger and Daily Telegraph columnist Janet Daley discuss why some people are prepared to support him .

Snow update.

The New York Times' dance critic Alastair Macaulay described the Sugar Plum Fairy in the New York City ballet's Nutcracker as looking as though she had "eaten one sugarplum too many". Chief dance critic of The Times Debra Craine and Creative Director of the Royal Opera House Deborah Bull debate whether or nor Mr Macaulay stepped over the line.

Sports news with Rob Bonnet.

Our reporter Tom Bateman witnesses the effects of heavy snow on Swansea and Transport Secretary Philip Hammond outlines the current weather prospects for the UK.

The problem with England's cricket tours Down Under is that all the action takes place in the middle of the night. Commentator and Cricket Fan Nicholas Lezard discusses how his insomnia has arrived at the same as the Ashes as he sits up all night and then sleeps fitfully throughout the day.

Frankie Boyle's recent comments about Katie Price and her disabled son on his Channel 4 show last week have been the subject of complaints to Ofcom. Arts editor Will Gompertz and comedians David Schneider and Alex Horne discuss whether cruelty is necessary in good comedy.



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