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Page last updated at 04:41 GMT, Thursday, 6 January 2011
Today: Thursday 6th January

The US inquiry into the Gulf of Mexico oil spill has blamed cost-cutting and management failures by BP and other companies, and warns that a similar disaster could happen in the future. Also in today's programme, do self help books really help?

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Business news with Adam Shaw.

Fewer women are participating in sports than men. Chief executive of Sport England, Jennie Price, discusses how a new sports project supported by a £10m National Lottery fund will encourage active women and tackle the gender gap in sport.

About one UK company in 10 is freezing pay for staff in an attempt to control costs during the recession. Editor of the Incomes Data Services pay review, Ken Mulkearn, explains why people on average incomes could find it hard to keep pace with inflation this year.

Mounds of rubbish have been piling up on the streets of some towns in England, with councils struggling to clear the backlog from the Christmas freeze. Correspondent Phil Mackie reports from Birmingham, where bin men are "working to rule" because of a pay dispute and, in many parts of the city, nothing has been removed since mid-December.

Business news with Adam Shaw.

The US inquiry into the Gulf of Mexico oil spill has criticised BP for safety inadequacies and cost-cutting. The House of Commons Energy and Climate Select Committee's own report on oil exploration in the North Sea coincides with the news, and its chairman Tim Yeo evaluates British reaction. Richard Pike, a former director of BP and chief executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry, compares the results.

Sports news with Garry Richardson.

The BBC has learnt that drugs used in some forms of the lethal injection in the US have been supplied by a British businessman, who runs a small driving school in West London. Correspondent Andrew Hosken reports on how a Freedom of Information request was used to establish that Mr Mahdi Alavi's company, Dream Pharma, supplied the state of Arizona with the drugs last September.

Paper review.

The hearings into last year's spot-fixing cricket scandal begin today, with disturbing allegations that something similar is happening here. In an interview for the Report programme on Radio 4, Ian Smith of the Professional Cricketers Association says there is concern that the English and Welsh County game is being targeted by fixers and illegal bookmakers.

Thought for the Day with the Reverend Dr Michael Banner, Dean and Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge.

Fears of war in the Middle East are growing following the breakdown of talks between Israel and Palestine, and with Lebanon on the brink of a major political and social upheaval. As the EU foreign affairs representative, Baroness Ashton, remains in Israel and the US envoy Dennis Ross returns to the area, Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen examines the prospects for conflict in the region.

New research shows that middle income earners in both the public and the private sector have been getting pay rises over the past year that fall well below the rate of inflation, effectively taking a pay cut. Business editor Robert Peston analyses why bosses are faring rather well, with pay rises that average 55%. The TUC Union's Brendan Barber and Garry Wilson, who founded a private equity group, debate pay in the coming year.

The distinctive voices of choir boys and girls are enthralling, and unmistakable. Science reporter Rebecca Morelle has been finding out how one researcher used hi-tech kit to get to the heart of this ancient tradition.

We often hear about the pressures and dangers faced by young people in combat, but James Dao of the New York Times spent almost year with a group of US troops in order to write about their experience of war in Afghanistan. James Naughtie spoke to him about his remarkable report and the US perspective on the conflict.

News International says it is investigating "serious allegations" against Ian Edmondson, news editor at the News of the World. It comes in light of a civil court case concerning the alleged hacking of the phone of actress Sienna Miller. Steve Hewlett, presenter of Radio 4's Media Show, explains the latest twist in the story. 0843
Business news with Adam Shaw.

A major talking point throughout the Ashes series between England and Australia has been the role of technology, particularly in relation to two incidents yesterday. Times columnist Ed Smith, a forner England batsman, explains his view that "technology does not make moral arguments redundant. It intensifies them."

Austrian authorities are set to unearth a Nazi atrocity as they begin digging up a disused hospital cemetery, in a search for people who were murdered because they were mentally or physically disabled. Johannes Schwamberger, spokesman for the Hall state hospital, explains the new revelations about one of the darkest periods in his country's history.

In recent years, self help books have become increasingly popular in Britain. Oliver Burkeman, author of the new publication Help! and self help writer, Geoff Thompson, debate how people can sort out the good advice from the bad.



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