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Page last updated at 06:42 GMT, Thursday, 4 August 2011 07:42 UK
Today: Thursday 4th August

Campaign groups and lawyers for some alleged victims of torture say they will boycott the inquiry into claims that British security officials turned a blind eye, saying the process lacks credibility and openness. Opposition activists in Syria say four people were shot dead last night during demonstrations. Also on today's programme, can the government teach us how to be good parents? And should it?

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Business news with Dominic Laurie, on more market turmoil for Europe and an announcement on UK interest rates. Download the podcast

A 21-year-old student from Dorset has turned the daily blizzard of text and tweets from Twitter into music. Jon Kay reports on the melody of micro-blogging.

Huge falls in some stock markets have hit Italy and Spain badly. Pedro Schwartz, professor of economics at San Pablo University in Madrid, outlines the prospects of contamination in the Spanish economy and the political problems that could make things worse.

Is being a good parent something that should be taught, or allowed to come naturally? Chris Paterson, researcher for the think tank Centre Forum, explains why the government is being asked to come up with some simple rules for good parenting.

Business news with Dominic Laurie.

With more than a quarter of adults owning a smartphone, as well as almost half the teenage population, the communications and media regulator Ofcom is launching a drive to find out how the technology is changing social behaviour. James Thickett, director of research at Ofcom, examines how mobiles are affecting our manners.

At a difficult time for Britain's retail sector, the Today programme is examining the state of the high street. The writer, broadcaster and author Andrew Collins talks about his shopping ideal.

Sports news with Jonathan Legard.

The medical charity Medecins sans Frontieres claims that the authorities in Bahrain have stormed its offices, removing equipment and detaining a member of its small staff. UK director general of MSF Marc Dubois considers why it is no longer possible to adhere to a "duty of care".

Scientists working on a new theory have suggested that the earth once had two moons, but that they collided to form one. The man behind the theory, Erik Asphaug from the University of California at Santa Cruz, describes the dark side of the moon.

Paper review.

Although fewer young people took them, Scottish pupils have achieved record exam results, raising the pass rate for Scottish highers by 1.8%. Colin Blane reports on the blunder that meant some pupils got their results by text nearly 24 hours early.

Thought for the day with John Bell of the Iona Community.

The government's inquiry into allegations that British security services were complicit in torture and rendition has been dealt a blow after the major human rights groups, alleged victims and lawyers involved said they will boycott proceedings. Clare Algar, the executive director of Reprieve which represented former Guantanamo detainee Binyam Mohamed, explains their argument that the process lacks credibility and openness. And Sir Malcolm Rifkind, former foreign secretary and chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee, reacts to the news.

The government is being advised to launch a campaign, modelled on the five-fruit-and-veg-a-day advice, outlining simple rules to improve parenting. The BBC's Nicola Stanbridge spoke to a father of three and asked him whether good parenting can really be learned. Graham Allen MP, author of a report on early intervention commissioned by the government, and Telegraph journalist Cristina Odone discuss whether the idea is one step too far.

Only a quarter of those over the age of 75 use the internet, with some finding the technology difficult and others resisting on principle. Richard Ingrams, editor of the Oldie magazine and perhaps the most prominent "digital denier", spoke to Today reporter Sanchia Berg about life without computers.

One in six foundation trust hospitals carrying out surgery is warning it might not meet the NHS target which aims for most patients to have operations within 18 weeks of a GP request. Dr David Bennett, chair of Monitor, which regulates NHS foundation hospitals, unpicks the figures.

Sports news with Jonathan Legard.

Lloyds Banking Group has announced a half-year loss of £3.25bn. Business editor Robert Peston examines this week's banking figures.

Is the British High Street slipping away? Sally Bercow - freelance writer, broadcaster and wife of the Commons Speaker - gives her own vision of the shops.

The oil giant Shell has admitted liability for two oil spills in Nigeria that caused devastation to waterways in the Niger delta, on which many fishing communities depend. Martyn Day, a lawyer who has brought a class action case against Shell in the UK for the damage done, goes through the details.

Business news with Dominic Laurie.

Spring was exceptionally early this year with the hottest April since records began. Professor Tim Sparks, nature adviser to the Woodland Trust, describes the impact of the warm weather.

The Kings Fund has warned that plans to re-vitalise the NHS in England by including different kinds of organisations and social enterprises is unlikely to be delivered. Sir Stephen Bubb, who has been involved in the NHS Future Forum which conducted the listening exercise on NHS reforms, and Christina McAnea of Unison debate the best way to boost the health service.

Should the government tell parents how to raise their children? Cassandra Jardine, who writes a parenting column for the Daily Telegraph, and Sue Palmer, author of Toxic Childhood, debate whether the proposal is "simplistic" or "patronising".



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