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Page last updated at 06:10 GMT, Thursday, 18 August 2011 07:10 UK
Today: Thursday 18th August

Hundreds of thousands of teenagers are finding out their A-level grades, amid record pressure on university places ahead of tuition fee rises. Why are the sentences for those arrested for rioting so varied across England? Also on today's programme, Doris Day launches a quiet musical comeback.

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Business news with Dominic Laurie, on eastern stock markets and why RBS is barring some of its customers from using rival cash machines. Download the podcast

A new book called Herd has attempted to explain the phenomenon of mass behaviour in society, looking at riots, consumerism and even Mexican waves. Author Mark Earls explains the importance of imitation.

A report on the rise in university fees has been published by the Higher Education Policy Institute, just as A-level results out today leave students scrambling for the last places on lower tariffs. Bahram Bekhradnia, director of the institute, explains the key concerns.

Syria's President Assad has told the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon that military operations against protesters have "stopped". Jim Muir reports from Beirut.

Business news with Dominic Laurie.

There are calls for News International to release another law firm from client confidentiality to facilitate inquiries into phone hacking at the News of the World. Home affairs correspondent Tom Symonds explains why the firm Burton Copeland may be vital to understanding what really happened.

Why are students pictured in the news coverage of A-levels so often attractive young women? Financial Times education correspondent Chris Cook discusses the lucky coincidence.

Sports news with Garry Richardson.

Libyan rebels have launched an assault on Zawiyah's oil refinery in an effort to drive the last of Gaddafi's forces out of the city and tighten their hold on the capital. Tripoli correspondent Matthew Price reports on their progress. And Sir Alistair Horne, the historian whose autobiography But What Do You Actually Do? will be published next month, analyses the success of the Arab Spring, six months on.

Paper review.

The reality TV programme Big Brother is back on our screens tonight, saved by Channel 5's owner and media mogul Richard Desmond, who also runs OK! magazine, the Daily Express and the Daily Star. Media correspondent Torin Douglas reports on Mr Desmond's booming business model.

Thought for the day with Anne Atkins, novelist and columnist.

A-levels results are being published across the country amid concerns that thousands of young people hoping to beat next year's rise in fees will miss out on a university place. Universities and Science minister David Willetts says "we will once more be able to deliver a record level of places at universities for applicants from England".

Sentences passed down in the wake of last week's riots appear to have varied considerably across the country, with two men being sentenced to four years in prison for inciting riots on Facebook as a teenager doing something similar was allowed to apologise. Former director of public prosecutions Lord Macdonald and Hugh Southey QC, barrister and part-time recorder, debate whether disparities in sentencing are damaging the reputation of the justice system.

Doris Day, one of the biggest box office singers of the 1950s and 60s, is releasing a new album, My Heart, which includes many previously unreleased recordings. Arts correspondent Rebecca Jones speaks to the 87-year-old star.

Sports news with Garry Richardson.

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad has told the UN's secretary general that military operations against protesters have "stopped". Patrick Seale, veteran journalist who wrote a biography of President Assad, explains that while he is "giving some ground" the president "will never give up Syria's sovereignty or dignity".

Almost 20 years ago, a hard-line coup carried out by Mikhail Gorbachev's enemies in Russia threatened to halt his efforts to end cold war hostility and Soviet repression. In the second of her special reports, Bridget Kendall, who was BBC Moscow correspondent at the time, recounts the extraordinary drama.

Business news with Dominic Laurie.

The United Nations Refugee Agency says it needs another 45,000 tents to keep up with the huge numbers of Somalis still arriving at the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. World affairs correspondent Mike Wooldridge reports from the largest refugee camp in the world, which is preparing to take in more refugees.

How have comics at this year's Edinburgh Festival been reacting to the recent riots and the hacking scandal? Arts correspondent Will Gompertz has been looking for a laugh.

The leading medical statistician Paul Meier, who had a major influence on how governments assess new treatments and who is credited with helping to save millions of lives, has died at the age of 87. His friend and colleague Sir Richard Peto, professor of medical statistics and epidemiology, looks back at his life.


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