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Page last updated at 06:26 GMT, Saturday, 18 August 2012 07:26 UK
Today: Saturday 18th August

Rail fares are set to rise by an average of 6.2% leaving the commute to London too expensive for some. South African President Jacob Zuma has announced an inquiry into the violence at a mine in the north-east of the country. Also on today's programme, could genetically screening babies for traits like potential alcoholism or a disposition to violence become a moral obligation?

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

The Commons Treasury committee takes aim at Barclays, the financial regulator, and the Bank of England over the Libor scandal and gives a withering verdict on the evidence it received from the former chief exec of Barclays, Bob Diamond. Business correspondent, Ben Thompson is in the City and gives his account.

The South African President Jacob Zuma has announced there will be an inquiry into the killing by police of 34 people at a mine in the north east of the country. Another 78 were injured when they opened fire on protesting miners earlier this week. Milton Nkosi is the BBC reporter in Johannesburg.


Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called Israel "an insult to humankind". It follows a week in which Israel has been carrying out an increasingly public debate about whether to attack Iran's nuclear facilities. Some people have suggested that an attack is more likely to happen before the US presidential election, because it would be harder for President Obama to stop it. The BBC's North America editor, Mark Mardell and Newsnight's diplomatic editor, Mark Urban debate how seriously the threat of Israeli attack should be taken.


This week, we had the news that Virgin had lost the franchise to run the West Coast main line. But the issue of how much a private company should bid to run a public service was something the ancient Romans had to grapple with as well. Mary Beard, Professor of Classics at Cambridge University elaborates on ancient Roman outsourcing.


Scientists in the United States say they have found a new family of spiders in the caves of California and Oregon - the first such discovery in North America for more than 140 years. Scientists have named it Trogloraptor or cave robber and have no idea what it eats. Writing in the journal ZooKeys, the researchers said that if such a large and bizarre spider could have gone undetected for so long, who knows what else may lurk undiscovered in that part of the world. Curator of Arachnology at the California Academy of Sciences, Charles Griswold explains.

Sport news with Rob Bonnet.

Economists have been scratching their heads over the latest economic figures, which show that the economy has produced over 200,000 new jobs, but national output has shrunk by 0.7%. Is there an explanation for why the economy is contracting, but unemployment is also decreasing? Professor of Economics from the Stirling Management School at the University of Stirling, David Bell and economist and former government advisor, Vicky Pryce discuss.

The paper review.


What is the number of oddities in the sky which cannot be explained, by air traffic control, or even the Ministry of Defence. On yesterday's programme, Simon Jack asked the head of UK Air Traffic Control, Richard Deakin, how often something odd was spotted that no one could identify. Nick Pope, UFO expert and former UFO investigator at the Ministry of Defence joins the programme to explain.

Thought for the day with the Reverend Rob Marshall.

Rail fares are set to rise by an average of 6.2% leaving many who commute to London wondering whether it is worth it. The Today programme's reporter, Nicola Stanbridge investigates. Professor of Transport Studies at the University of Westminster, Peter White and former director general of ATOC, George Muir join the debate.

Shocking images this week of South African police firing at a crowd has led to the president of South Africa requesting an inquiry. The BBC's Milton Nkosi has been to the Marikana platinum mine, where the shootings occurred.

The study of Mandarin in British schools appears to be floundering. The number of pupils taking the subject at A-level has gone up by only 88 in the course of the year. Heads and language experts said that many of the 3,425 candidates now sitting the subject were likely to be native speakers who happen to live in the UK. Master of Wellington College, Dr Anthony Seldon and chair of the Campaign for Real Education and former head teacher, Chris McGovern discuss.

Sport news with Rob Bonnet.


The Treasury Select Committee says some of the evidence given to it by the former Barclays chief executive, Bob Diamond, on the Libor fixing scandal was "highly selective" and fell well short of what parliament should expect. Andrew Tyrie is the Conservative chairman of the Treasury Select Committee and David Green is a former head of international policy at the FSA and a former Bank of England regulatory official.

The paper review.

A new American reality TV show has been sharply criticised by a group of Nobel peace prize winners for, as they put, "likening war to an athletic competition." NBC's Stars Earn Stripes matches up celebrities with US military personnel for a series of physical challenges, inspired by real military exercises. The BBC's correspondent, Peter Bowes reports from Los Angeles.

Pussy Riot's protest has been one of the most successful ever provocations of Putin's government. But the Russian public do not have much sympathy for the band and all the public opinion polls showed support for their prosecution, says Vyacheslav Nikonov, an MP for the governing United Russia party.

An Oxford academic who is an expert in practical ethics argues that genetically screening for traits like potential alcoholism or a disposition to violence and creating so called "designer babies" could be considered a "moral obligation" on parents if it leads to children being less likely to harm themselves and others. Professor Julian Savulescu, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Medical Ethics and director of The Oxford Centre for Neuroethics and Dr Angie Hobbs, Senior Fellow, in the Public Understanding of Philosophy at the University of Warwick join the debate.

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