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Page last updated at 07:14 GMT, Wednesday, 14 March 2012
Today: Wednesday 14th March

Twenty-two children from Belgium have been killed in a coach crash in Switzerland. Animal rights activists have been accused of disrupting scientific research in Britain, by successfully campaigning for ferry companies to stop transporting laboratory animals into the country. And also on the programme, how the e-book is fuelling a boom in erotic fiction.

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 Treasury plans to issue a 100-year bond to borrow money at very low interest rates.


The British Heart Foundation is warning of the dangers of smoking shisha pipes as new data reveals a dramatic rise in the number of shisha bars across the UK. The British Heart Foundation's Betty McBride outlines their concerns.


A police spokesperson at the scene of a coach crash in Switzerland has confirmed that 28 people died in the incident,

including 22 children under the age of 12. Marcus Rieder explained that the accident happened at 9pm local time and altogether there were 52 passengers on the coach. The vehicle hit a wall in a motorway tunnel near the south-western town of Sierre as the group was returning to Belgium from a skiing holiday.


Scientists are warning that a new campaign by animal rights activists, aimed at the companies involved in the transport of laboratory animals, threatens to undermine research into new cures and treatments for disease. Lord Drayson, former science minister who set up the Office for Life Sciences, and Professor Robin Lovell-Badge, geneticist at the National Institute for Medical Research, discuss the implications.

There is a network of food banks in this country so that If people are in real need they can be referred to them by local authorities or charities and get emergency food parcels. The Today programme's Nicola Stanbridge reports on how, in the past year, the number of handouts has almost doubled to a total of more than 100,000.

Business news with Simon Jack.

As the latest unemployment figures are revealed, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) estimates between £87bn and £135bn is the cost in lost GDP. Dr John Philpott, chief economic adviser at the CIPD, crunches the numbers.

Sports news with Garry Richardson.


The government will formally launch measures designed to speed up the process of adoption in England today including proposing scorecards for local authorities. Councillor David Simmonds, chair of the Local Government Association, examines if this is the right way to go while Children's Minister Tim Laughton responds.

Paper review.

Iran's parliament has begun the questioning of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over his handling of the economy. The BBC's James Reynolds has the details.

Thought for the day with Akhandadhi Das, a Vaishnav Hindu teacher and theologian.


A report by Amnesty International says torture in Syria has risen to nightmarish levels and those responsible must be punished. Neil Sammonds, Amnesty International's researcher on Syria and author of the report, and Ammar Waqqaf, member of the Syrian Social Club, discuss the unstable situation in the country.


Animal rights extremists have been accused of disrupting imports of animals for researchers studying conditions such as cancer and Alzheimer's. Tom Feilden reports on how companies that have transported animals into Britain for use in scientific experiments have been pulling out of the trade after approaches from activists. And Science Minister David Willetts gives the government's response.

The Treasury is considering issuing a new long-term bond that would allow the UK to borrow money at very low interest rates and pay billions of pounds less in debt interest in the future. Read Robert Peston's blog here.


A British author is topping the US bestsellers e-book lists and is now the focus of a bidding war over film rights for her debut erotic novel. Rowan Pelling, former editor of Erotic Review and Telegraph Review, and Tom Tivnan, features editor for The Bookseller, discuss what this says about the rise in popularity of e-books.

Sports news with Garry Richardson.


Speaking at the Annual National People's Congress (NPC), of the Chinese parliament, the Chinese premier, Wen Jiabao, has called for further political reform saying it is urgently required to protect China's economic gains. Liu Xiaoming, China's ambassador to the United Kingdom, reflects on what this means.

Twenty eight people, many of them 12 year-old children on a school trip from Belgium, have been killed in a bus crash in a Swiss tunnel. The BBC's Imogen Foulkes reports on the police investigation while Jan Luykx, the Belgian ambassador to Switzerland gives his reaction.

Business news with Simon Jack.

President Obama took David Cameron to a basketball game as part of the prime minister's official visit to the US. Catherine Mayer, Europe editor of Time Magazine, and George Walden, former diplomat and ex-Conservative MP, discuss the message world leaders seek to convey with their choice of downtime activities during official visits.

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