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Page last updated at 07:04 GMT, Thursday, 23 February 2012
Today: Thursday 23rd February

With Foreign Secretary William Hague on what the UK can do about violence in Syria and RBS boss Stephen Hester on RBS results. Also on the programme, into the depths of the Mariana Trench and can science predict the future?

We are no longer providing clips of every part of the programme but you will be able to listen via the BBC iPlayer .

Business news with Simon Jack on the latest results from the taxpayer backed banks of Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds which are expected to announce billions of pounds worth of losses.


The Royal Bank of Scotland's full year results are due out today and the bank is expected to report a bigger loss for 2011 than for the previous year. Business editor Robert Peston explains the figures while chief executive of RBS Stephen Hester gives his reaction.

Stealing lead and copper from church roofs has always been a problem but in the last year it has become a crisis with an average of seven churches being attacked every night. Religious affairs correspondent Robert Piggot reports from Manchester where alarm systems being fitted to church roofs in a desperate effort to protect them.

The number of degree courses on offer at British universities

has been cut by more than a quarter in the past six years according to new research by University and College Union (UCU). The general secretary of UCU, Sally Hunt, and research director at the centre-right leaning think tank Reform, Dale Bassett, discuss whether this is a good or a bad thing.

Sports news with Alison Mitchell.

Violence in the city of Homs has sparked calls for the international community to act ahead of a major conference to discuss the worsening situation. Syrian National Council spokesperson Ausama Monajed and Dr Rim Turkmani, of the opposition movement Building up the Syrian State, discuss their differing views on how the outside world can help.

Paper review.


The comedian Frank Carson died yesterday at the age of 85 after a battle with stomach cancer. We say goodbye with a selection of Frank Carson gags.

Don Walsh and the late Jacques Piccard are the only two men to have gone to the deepest point in the world's oceans, the Mariana Trench, 11 km down. Half a century on, four rival teams are racing to repeat that dive, as science reporter Rebecca Morelle reports from San Francisco. Find out more about the race to the bottom of the ocean

Thought for the day with Mona Siddiqui, Professor of Islamic Studies, New College, University of Edinburgh.

The Royal Bank of Scotland has reported its fourth year of losses since the bank's bailout in 2008. James Barty, senior financial consultant at Policy Exchange, and Michael Fallon, Conservative MP on the Treasury Select Committee, discuss what it says about the bank in which the government still holds 83% of shares.


There has been widespread condemnation of the Syrian government following continuing violence in the country prompting calls for international intervention. A group set up in a response to a joint veto by Russia and China of a UN Security Council resolution condemning President Bashar al-Assad will meet for the first time tomorrow in Tunisia. The BBC's Beirut correspondent, Paul Wood, who has reported from Homs, looks at what this meeting might hope to achieve. Foreign Secretary William Hague outlines Britain's position on Syria.


A new publication from the makers of New Scientist, Arc, was launched this week, looks at what science, and science fiction, can tell us about the future. Simon Ings, editor of Arc and science fiction writer, and a former Tomorrow's World presenter and BBC science presenter Maggie Philbin discuss the science of futurology.

Nick Clegg has told allies that he is losing more activists from the party on the issue of NHS changes than he did on tuition fees, as disquiet about the Health Bill continues. Political editor Nick Robinson has the details.

Sports news with Alison Mitchell.

The Daily Telegraph says it has found evidence that some clinics in this country are offering abortions to women purely on the basis of the sex of the baby

- a practice which is illegal if true. Dr Gillian Lockwood, medical director of the Midland Fertility Clinic and former vice-chair of the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology's Ethics Committee, gives responds to the claims.

The system of allowing so-called "supergrass testimony" in Northern Ireland, where people can give evidence in return for reduced sentences for their own crimes, has come under renewed attack after the collapse of a huge trial. Barrister and law lecturer Dr Mary O'Rawe and criminal solicitor Tony Caher discuss whether the case discredits "supergrass" trials.

Regular readers of the Telegraph may be familiar with Alex Masterley, their resident banker cartoon strip, which has been satirising life in the City for 25 years. The Today programme's Simon Jack caught up with Alex at Harry Bar, one of his many City watering holes, to get his take on the current economic situation.


A YouGov poll for Prospect magazine has found that those questioned overwhelmingly agreed that the government pays out too much in benefits and that welfare levels overall should be reduced. Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee and Labour MP and former welfare minister Frank Field debate where this leaves Labour in trying to decide where they stand on welfare.



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