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Page last updated at 07:26 GMT, Friday, 24 December 2010
Today: Friday 24th December

Pope Benedict will present this morning's Thought for the Day - the first time he has addressed the people of one country in a seasonal message. Train passengers have been warned to expect major disruption to their journeys today. And what did Vince Cable mean when he said our coalition government was Maoist?

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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Business news with Lesley Curwen: Stockbroker Paul Kavanagh analyses the shares with FTSE 100 breaking through the 6,000 mark briefly yesterday. And our Friday boss is Cliff Burrows, president of Starbucks Coffee US.

The Pope is delivering the programme's Thought for the Day today. Rome correspondent David Willey outlines why Benedict has decided to address the British people.

Pope Benedict has put his own stamp firmly on the Roman Catholic Church despite being described as a caretaker figure by early critics. Robert Piggott analyses how well he has dealt with the challenges of secularism and the sex abuse scandals.

A cobbler in Bromsgrove has employed a hypnotist to keep his four young staff warm in the cold weather, instead of investing into more heaters. The owner of the shop Martin Connellan and the hypnotist Jim Kerwin explain how their method can help people cut their heating bill.

Today's Thought for the Day presented by the Pope might raise a lot of controversy among the programme's listeners. Keith Porteous Wood of the National Secular Society and Catherine Pepinster, editor of The Tablet, debate the effect of Benedict's address.

The United States and the EU say they are reviewing their relations with Belarus following the presidential election last weekend. EU foreign affairs spokesman Darren Ennis explains why the Union thinks the election is an unfortunate step backwards for democracy in the country.

Business news with Lesley Curwen.

Local authorities in Bethlehem warn that unless repairs are carried out on the centuries-old Church of the Nativity very soon, they may have to restrict the number of visitors in future. Wyre Davies reports from the site.

Sports news with Rob Bonnet.

Dentistry expert Professor Jimmy Steele says patients who have sugary diets and do not look after their teeth should not expect the NHS to pay for their dental treatments. He discusses the issue with Mike Smith of the Patients Association.

Paper review.

Journalists will spend millions of pounds trying to assess the mood of Middle America in their attempt to cover yet another lengthy election cycle in the US early next year. In his final report from the United States, correspondent Kevin Connolly visited Lincoln, Nebraska, to pay homage to the vanished age of foreign correspondents.

Thought for the Day with Pope Benedict.

What did Vince Cable mean when he said our coalition government was Maoist? Author Jonathan Fenby and Mehdi Hasan of the New Statesman debate just how radical the coalition's policies are.

Today is the first time that the Pope has addressed the people of one country in a seasonal message through our regular Thought for the Day slot. The Archbishop of Birmingham, Bernard Longley, examines if the Pope is showing a more liberal side to his ministry.

Nato has confirmed that a member of Iran's Revolutionary Guard has been captured in the south of the country. Asia correspondent Mark Dummett and Mark Fitzpatrick, of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, discuss the importance of the capture.

The programme is handing the reins over to its guest editors next week. One of them, Richard Ingrams, listened to a acting legend Peter O'Toole's yarn about a particular Christmas experience.

Sports news with Rob Bonnet.

The earthquake that struck Haiti in January this year left a 12-year-old boy with severe leg injuries after his home collapsed. Mike Thomson describes how an anonymous donor made it possible for Hans Charles to fly to a Miami hospital for treatment.

This programme had a huge response to the announcement that the Pope would be presenting Thought for the Day slot. Former editor of the Catholic Herald, Christina Odone and Polly Toynbee of The Guardian debate the British public's view of the Roman Catholic Church.

Business news with Lesley Curwen.

What have been the most important events this year? The historian Eric Hobsbawm reflects on the trends and changes that he sees in the society around the world.

Are awards in the entertainment industry falling out of fashion? Oscar-winning actress Glenda Jackson and Nik Powell of Bafta's Film Committee discuss why the incoming curator of the Edinburgh Film Festival is planning to scrap its awards ceremonies and winners.


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