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Page last updated at 06:54 GMT, Tuesday, 13 December 2011
Today: Tuesday 13th December

Retail expert Mary Portas has warned that the decline of Britain's high streets has reached crisis point. The UN says more than 5,000 people are now thought to have been killed in the violent uprising in Syria. And also on today's programme, why do birds sing different songs in town and country?

Business news with Simon Jack on whether China could pose a bigger threat to the world economy than the eurozone crisis.

Figures obtained by the BBC show ambulances frequently face delays when taking patients to hospitals in England. Health correspondent Nick Triggle has the details and Jo Webber, director of the Ambulance Services Network, responds.

Retail expert Mary Portas has finished her government-backed report into the state of high streets in England, finding that the sector has reached "crisis point". Matthew Hopkinson, director of the Local Data Company which carries out research in the retail sector, explains why he thinks her recommendations do not go far enough.

According to research published today in BMJ Open, chronic fatigue syndrome, or ME, might account for thousands of unexplained cases of children missing school. Dr Esther Crawley, consultant paediatrician and author of the report for the University of Bristol, outlines the findings.

The UN's head of human rights, Navi Pillay, has called for Syria to be referred to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. UN Human Rights officer James Turpin was at the Security Council meeting.

Business news with Simon Jack.

Urban birdsong is significantly different from rural birdsong, according to new research from the University of Aberystwyth, as birds in cities use buildings to bounce sound and project further. Dr Rupert Marshall, lecturer in animal behaviour at the university, explains the research.

Sport news with Garry Richardson.

There is growing disquiet among EU countries about the eurozone rescue plan. Former Belgian prime minister and leader of the Liberal and Democrat group in the European parliament, Guy Verhofstadt reflects on whether the agreement reached in Brussels will be enough to resolve the euro crisis.

A look at today's papers.

Today is the 40th anniversary of 12-year-old Scottish singer Neil Reid winning Opportunity Knocks with Mother of Mine - becoming one of the very first reality TV talent show winners to cross over into the charts. The BBC's Colin Paterson tracked Mr Reid down in Blackpool where 40 years on he is not performing, but preaching.

Thought for The Day with Canon Angela Tilby.

A report by the Royal Society says advances in the understanding of the human brain may raise questions over the age of criminal responsibility. Author of the report and Professor Emeritus at the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Cambridge, Nicholas Mackintosh, describes the significance of the findings.

The government's Independent Reviewer on Social Mobility and Child Poverty, Alan Milburn, is to give his first keynote speech on child poverty. Home affairs editor Mark Easton reports on the findings and Mr Milburn outlines what progress he believes has, and has not, been made in eradicating child poverty.

Sixty-nine years ago, Japanese troops landed in Burma, with soldiers disembarking at Victoria Point in the south and making their way to Rangoon. Nearly half a million civilians, mainly British and Indian, embarked on an arduous trip north, mainly by foot. Thousands never reached their destination. Felicity Goodall, author of Exodus Burma, and Pamela Backhouse, who fled with her mother through Burma to reach Calcutta when she was five years old, reflect on this momentous event.

Sport news with Garry Richardson.

Television retail analyst Mary Portas has completed her government-backed review into the future of the local High Street and is warning that the sector is reaching "crisis point". She outlines her proposals for a National Market Day and relaxation of rules to make it easier to set up street stalls in order to reinvigorate the High Street.

Mikhail Prokhorov, one of Russia's richest businessman, has announced he will run against Vladimir Putin in next year's presidential election. David Clark, chairman of the Russia Foundation, reflects on Mr Prokhorov's chances of success.

Business news with Simon Jack.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has said in a speech to MEPs that Britain's request to safeguard financial services at last week's EU summit would have harmed the single market. Chris Morris reports from Brussels.

By the end of this year the last US troops to be stationed in Iraq will be home, ending nearly nine years of military operations that cost 4,500 American lives and billions of US dollars. Jonny Dymond reports from Texas, a state with long military tradition, on the sometimes traumatic experiences of the US's Iraqi veterans.

Scientists at Cern will reveal the latest results from their two experiments searching for the Higgs Boson, but is Cern the model for the future of scientific discovery? Dr Lucie Green, solar researcher at University College London's Department of Space and Climate Physics and Dr Adam Rutherford, evolutionary biologist and science writer on Nature magazine, discuss whether major scientific discoveries can only be made with the backing of billions of pounds.



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