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Page last updated at 06:39 GMT, Wednesday, 21 December 2011
Today: Wednesday 21st December

On the final day of the Leveson Inquiry before breaking for Christmas, we hear from two witnesses. A cross party group of MPs wants the government to re-think its shake-up of planning laws in England. Also on today's programme, should the skeleton of Charles Byrne, known as the Irish giant, be buried at sea?

Business news with Simon Jack on credit rating agency Moody's confirmation that the UK is to retain its triple A credit rating.

Production of frankincense could be cut by half in the next 15 years due to steep declines in the number of the trees that make the resin. Dr Frans Bongers, frankincense expert at the Wageningen University in the Netherlands, explains.

The Russian parliament is meeting for its first session after a controversial election that saw Vladimir Putin's ruling party win a reduced majority and sparked mass protest over alleged vote-rigging. Moscow correspondent Steve Rosenberg reports from outside the Duma.

The Leveson Inquiry will hear its last day of evidence today before stopping for Christmas. The BBC's Peter Hunt has been covering the inquiry from the start and takes a look back at some of the key moments.

Business news with Simon Jack.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has told Conservative MP Peter Bone to drop his "morbid fascination" with David Cameron's death after Mr. Bone repeatedly asked who would take over at Number 10 should the PM be killed. Mr Bone explains what is behind his inquiries.

Sport news with Alison Mitchell.

A committee of MPs has criticised the government's controversial planning reforms, saying it puts more emphasis on economic growth than the environment or society. John Stewart, Director of Economic Affairs at the Home Builders Federation, and Alister Scott, Professor of Spatial Planning and Governance at Birmingham City University, debate the pros and cons of revamping the planning framework.

A look at today's papers.

The question of whether the skeleton of "the Irish giant" Charles Byrne should be buried at sea has been raised in the British Medical Journal. The skeleton has been displayed at the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons for almost 200 years. Thomas Muinzer, a legal researcher at the School of Law, Queens University, and Dr Sam Alberti, Director of the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons, discuss what should be done.

Thought for The Day with Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks.

Research by Sheffield University commissioned by the homeless charity Crisis says homeless people die 30 years before the national average. The Today programme's Zubeida Malik hears the experiences of 28 year-old Sue, who has been been sleeping rough for three years.

It is the last day of evidence at the Leveson inquiry before breaking for Christmas. Broadcaster Anne Diamond and Trevor Kavanagh, associate editor of the Sun, who have both given evidence, debate if whether statutory regulation should be introduced as an outcome of the inquiry.

Rare recordings of writers reading their own short stories are being published for the first time by the British Library, including Kingsley Amis, Harold Pinter and a rare live recording of William Trevor. Stephen Cleary, curator of drama and literature at the British Library, explains why these recordings are so precious.

Sport news with Alison Mitchell.

Women with silicone breast implants made by a French company should not have them removed, UK officials say. French authorities will decide shortly whether women should have implants supplied by Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) removed, amid fears of health risks. Dr Suzanne Ludgate, medical director of the UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) explains their advice.

A new study shows that children as young as three or four can talk informatively and accurately about experiences, including incidents of abuse, if they are interviewed by specialists who understand the strengths and weaknesses of child testimony. Author of the study Michael Lamb, professor of psychology at Cambridge University, and Max Hill QC, chair of the Criminal Bar Association, discuss the code of interviewing children in court. 0840
Business news with Simon Jack.

It is only six months since South Sudan became the world's newest country and already it is facing a severe threat warning from the UN that the tension between Sudan and South Sudan could easily escalate out of control. James Copnall reports.

Liverpool Football Club's Luis Suarez is going to miss eight matches after being found guilty by the FA of racially abusing Patrice Evra of Manchester United during a game. Latin American football reporter Tim Vickery reports on what is being said in Uruguay where Suarez is a national hero.

How is North Korea going to change under its new leader, the son of Kim Jong-il? The Today programme's Mike Thomson speaks to Kim Joo-il, who was a captain in the North Korean army until he managed to defect to the west six years ago, to find out about life under the communist regime.

Throughout Autumn and Winter, people gather for coldwater swims, including Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year's Day. Author Susie Parr, who has written about "wild swimming" in the Story of Swimming and 74-year-old Georgina Rose from Clevedon describe their passion for taking the icy plunge.



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