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Page last updated at 07:26 GMT, Saturday, 17 December 2011
Today: Saturday 17th December

Credit rating agencies have kept up the pressure on eurozone countries, one agency has said a solution to the debt crisis is beyond reach. The UN has eased sanctions on Libya, clearing the way for billions of pounds to be made available to help the new government rebuild the country. Also on the programme, out on the town on with Christmas revellers.

The paper review.

The credit ratings agencies are sending out the message that they have limited confidence in the Euro deal. One has downgraded Belgium, and another is saying that it is considering a downgrade of six countries. The BBC's Steve Evans tells us more from Berlin.

The UN Security Council has decided to unfreeze the assets of two Libyan banks that had been under the control of Muammar Gaddafi. The move clears the way for the return of more than $40 billion to help the new government rebuild the country. The BBC's Jon Donnison is in Tripoli.

The Scottish Labour Party will elect a new leader today. The BBC's Scotland correspondent James Cook presents us with the latest.

The Democratic Republic of Congo is in the midst of a post-election battle. The supreme court there has upheld the election of President Joseph Kabila, but opposition politicians claim the vote lacked credibility. The BBC's correspondent in Kinshasa Thomas Hubert tells us more.

The Chinese protester who died in police custody over a dispute about landownership is due to be buried today, in a village in southern China that has become a scene of revolt against the Communist Party. Martin Patience, the BBC's correspondent in Beijing and Steven Tsang, director of the China Policy Institute at the University of Nottingham, reflect on the stand-off.

Sport news with Rob Bonnet.

The government reforms to the education curriculum in England are going to include a return to more rigorous teaching of multiplication tables. The Department for Education is confirming reports that children will be expected to know their times tables by the age of nine. Former journalist and now maths teacher in London, Steve McCormack, gives us his thoughts on the government's decision.

Ireland's GDP shrank by nearly two per cent in the last quarter, a performance that will send shivers throughout Europe. Economist Michael O'Sullivan, author of Ireland and the Global Question, explains this sudden drop.

The paper review.

The Leveson Inquiry into the practices of the press has been continuing this week. After initially hearing from those who say they are the victims of the way the press operate, the inquiry has now turned its attention to journalists working for the tabloids who have come in for criticism. This week several former employees of the News of the World gave evidence. Our correspondent, Peter Hunt, reflects on the week's hearings.
Thought for The Day with the Reverend Rob Marshall, an Anglican priest.

Barbed comments have been flying back and forth across the English channel in the follow-up to David Cameron's decision to stay out of the deal to try to save the Euro. Noelle Lenoir, European minister in the government of Jean Pierre Raffarin in the early 1990s explains what she thinks of Cameron's decision.

Last night was said to be Black Friday, the biggest night of drinking ahead of Christmas. In London, the ambulance service have set up a "booze bus", a special clinic fed by ambulances running around picking up drunken partygoers. Our reporter Dave McMullan spent the night there.

A year ago today the actions of one young fruit seller in Tunisia prompted what we now know as the Arab Spring. The BBC's security correspondent Frank Gardner and Chatham House's Dr Clare Spencer reflect on a momentous 12 months in north Africa and the middle east.

Bands from Abba to Queen have let their hits be used in stage musicals in recent years. Now The Kinks singer and songwriter Ray Davies has written one of these so-called "jukebox musicals" featuring some of the band's best-known songs. But it is not in the West End, his show was written for the pupils of a secondary school in Cumbria who performed it in their village hall last night. Our arts reporter Ian Youngs went along to find out more.

Sport news with Rob Bonnet.

Last week Britain was the only one of 27 EU nations which did not sign up to the deal in principle, but now other countries including Sweden, Hungary and the Czech Republic have expressed doubts about elements of the treaty. So what is going to happen? Elmar Brock, German MEP and former chancellor Lord Lamont debate what they think will and should happen with regard to the treaty.
The Bible Society of the West Indies translated the Bible into Jamaican patois. But traditionalists on the island have accused them of dumbing-down the scriptures. The BBC's religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott reports, the project has awakened fierce controversy over the role patois should play in Jamaican national identity.

The paper review.

The Scottish Labour Party will get a new leader today. The post became open after the party's heavy defeat to the SNP in the Scottish Parliamentary elections in May. Our Scotland correspondent James Cook reports from Glasgow on the leadership race.

Today at Birchencliffe in West Yorkshire music will be provided by an orchestra consisting entirely of young people who are partially or completely deaf. The charity Music and the Deaf is more than 20 years old. Fiona Lamb from the West Yorkshire Deaf Orchestra explains how deafness is not necessarily a bar to enjoying music.

Today presenter James Naughtie interviewed the late Christopher Hitchens and his equally feisty brother Peter at the 2005 Hay Literary Festival about their controversial views, the Iraq war and religion.



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