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Page last updated at 06:58 GMT, Wednesday, 2 January 2013
Today: Wednesday 2nd January

The US Congress has finally passed a bill to head off the economic crisis known as the "fiscal cliff". Millions of commuters face higher rail fares from today. Could quitting smoking actually be better for your nerves than actually inhaling the nicotine? And, could being spiritual be bad for your mental health?

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

The fiscal deal a few hours ago gives President Barack Obama a solid victory as he looks towards his second term in office. He has raised taxes on the rich - which is what he wanted to do, and what some Republicans had said they would not allow. Taylor Griffin, a Republican strategist has worked on campaigns and in the White House.


The National Union of Teachers is warning that teachers face a "crisis of morale" in England and Wales. A YouGov survey of more than 800 teachers found that the majority felt un-trusted by the government. And more than three quarters of those who took part believe what the coalition is doing to education in England will have a negative effect. Christine Blower is general secretary of the NUT.

Business news with Simon Jack.

What would you do if you had an extra half an hour every day? The author David Nicholls recently wrote that he tries to get up early to do some extra reading. The Today programme asked other well-known figures what they would do if they were to set their alarms half an hour early. We will hear them in the days ahead. Today, the columnist and former editor of Erotic Review Rowan Pelling argues the case for early morning intimacy.


Being spiritual may give life deeper meaning but it can also mess up your mind, according to research out this morning. A study found that people professing to be spiritual, but not conventionally religious, were more likely to suffer from a host of mental challenges. Their demons included abnormal eating conditions, drug abuse, anxiety disorder, phobias and neurosis. Professor Michael King from University College London, has been conducting the research, which is published in the British journal of Psychiatry.

Sports news with Garry Richardson.


Rail passengers are facing their tenth consecutive year of above-inflation fare rises this morning. The average season ticket goes up by 4.2%. Campaigners and unions say the government is pricing ordinary people off the railway. But the network is carrying record numbers each year. The transport minister, Liberal Democrat Norman Baker and Steven Joseph from the Campaign for Better Transport, discuss their stance.

Paper review.


When a committee of MPs recently urged the government to rethink its policy on drugs, there was a firm response from the Home Office - decriminalisation is not an option. Ministers pointed to a decline in drug use as evidence that current policies are working. But the fall in the use of illegal drugs appears to have been happening over a period much longer than the life cycle of single governments. The Today programme's Tom Bateman has been trying to find out what is really changing in Britain's relationship with illegal drugs.

Thought for the day with the Reverend Dr Giles Fraser, Priest-in-charge of St Mary's, Newington.


The US ambassador to Nato says European countries, including the UK, need to use the money saved by withdrawing from Afghanistan next year to re-equip their militaries, rather than cutting defence spending. "Europe relies too much on the US for defence at a time when Washington is shifting the focus of its security strategy on Asia," Ivo Daalder said in an interview with the Guardian yesterday. Professor Philip Bobbitt, director of Centre for National Security at Columbia Law School and Sir Malcolm Rifkind, former defence secretary and chairman of the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee, debate.


Jimmy Savile is now thought to have been one of this country's most prolific paedophiles. At least 450 people have come forward to say he abused them - abuse dating back to 1959. What can we learn from the case about the way in which we deal with historic allegations of sexual abuse? Baroness Butler Sloss is a former High Court Judge who used to head up the family courts. She chaired the Cleveland Child Abuse Enquiry and was appointed by the Diocese of Chichester to investigate how historic claims of abuse by two of its priests were handled. She was also vice chair of the Cumberlege Commission which looked at the Catholic Church's response to abuse scandals. The Baroness examines whether the Savile case has changed the way we view sexual abuse. Also on the programme is Peter Davies, ACPO lead for child protection and Chief Executive of CEOP.


What happened to the Fukushima 50? They were the workers who stayed behind in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, after the earthquake and tsunami in 2011. There were actually 300 of them but they worked in shifts of 50. And they were told by many that they were going to die for their pains. Rupert Wingfield-Hayes reports on what has happened to them, and the villages around the stricken reactor, since the disaster.

Sport news with Garry Richardson.


The BBC's Europe correspondent Chris Morris, gives his thoughts about what is going to happen in Europe this year. Also on the programme, Jim O'Neill, Chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management and Stephanie Bolzen, London Correspondent for Die Welt.

Business news with Simon Jack.

Last Christmas Khuram Shaikh from Rochdale was brutally murdered at a beach resort in Sri Lanka. He was with a Russian friend, Viktoria Aleksandrovna, who was also seriously assaulted. She returned, traumatised, to her country without making any comment. They were on a break from their work for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Gaza, where Mr Shaikh fixed people with prosthetic limbs. Our correspondent Charles Haviland reports on what progress there has been in securing justice for the victims.

Iranian authorities have advised the one and a half million people who live in Isfahan to leave the city if they can because pollution has now reached emergency levels. The same thing happened in the capital Tehran earlier this week. Kasra Naji works for the BBC's Persian TV service in London.

The Royal College of Physicians told us yesterday that more needs to be done to tackle obesity in the UK. Such as more NHS services and a member of the royal family designated to warn us off the calories. Lord Lawson, former Conservative Chancellor who famously lost a lot of weight and wrote a book about it, and Tam Fry, spokesman for the National Obesity Forum and also chair of the Child Growth Foundation, debate whose responsibility it is if we are too fat.

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