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Page last updated at 07:24 GMT, Wednesday, 9 January 2013
Today: Wednesday 9th January

Could lead poisoning at an early age be responsible for people turning to violent crime in later life? The government is to announce an overhaul of the probation service - handing much of its work to contractors who will be paid by results. And also on the programme, an answer to that age-old question: why do our fingers shrivel up after being underwater too long?

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 news of the big risks facing the global economy in 2013.

Sports news with Garry Richardson.


The Government is unveiling plans for a "probation revolution", meaning all prisoners will face a period of rehabilitation on leaving prison, even for minor offences. Liz Calderbank, HM chief inspector of probation, outlines the problems with the current system.

Fire-fighters have been battling scores of wildfires across southeast Australia, as authorities evacuated national parks and warned that blistering temperatures and high winds had led to "catastrophic" conditions in some areas. BBC reporter Phil Mercer explains that in New South Wales, the country's most populous state, the fires have burned through more than 64,000 acres of land.

Business news with Simon Jack.


Science is getting close to explaining those prune-like fingers and toes we all get when we sit in the bath too long. Dr Tom Smulders, evolutionary biologist at Newcastle University, says that researchers have shown that wet objects are easier to handle with wrinkled fingers than with dry ones.


The Care Quality Commission (CQC), the regulator of health and social care in England, has not earned public confidence, a scathing report by MPs has concluded. Stephen Dorrell MP, Health Select Committee chair, and David Behan, chief executive of the CQC, debate whether the organisation has failed to define its core purpose.

Sports news with Garry Richardson.

The Government must be more vigorous in its approach to cyber security, says the Defence Committee in its report published today. Major General Jonathan Shaw, former head of cyber security programme at the Ministry of Defence, gives his view that there needs to be much more awareness of the dangers of cybercrime in general.

The paper review.

In response to the Today programme breaking of the new Bowie single on air yesterday some unlikely establishment figures tweeted their love of Bowie, including Sir John Oldham. Sir John Oldham, national clinical lead for quality and productivity at the Department of Health, and Nicholas Coleridge, managing director of Condé Nast in Britain, reflect on what the release means to devoted Bowie fans.

Thought for the Day with the reverend Dr Michael Banner, dean and fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge.


The Union Flag will be raised over Belfast City Hall today at dawn to mark the Duchess of Cambridge's 31st birthday. Dr John Kyle, one of two members of the Progressive Unionist Party on the city council, and Dr Ruth Dudley Edwards, an historian and writer, discuss the event as the first of the designated flag days since the decision by the council to limit the occasions on which the flag is flown.


George Monbiot claimed in the Guardian yesterday that there is a link between lead poisoning and violent crime and there is a wealth of evidence that out there that appears to back up the claims. Howard Mielke, professor of pharmacology at Tulane University, and Alastair Hay, professor of Environmental Toxicology at Leeds University, examine the potential link.

For the first time in the probation service in England and Wales the government is planning payment-by-results in part of the system - voluntary bodies and private companies will be able to bid for contracts to deal with medium and low risk offenders and will only be paid in full if reoffending rates fall. Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor, Chris Grayling explains the move.

Sports news with Garry Richardson.

The Bafta nominations will take place on Wednesday morning and Will Gompertz, The BBC's Arts Editor, hears from Pippa Harris, Deputy Chair of the Bafta Film Committee.

Demonstrators on Tuesday staged a second day of rallies in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou in support of journalists who have been protesting against censorship. Martin Johnson, founder of GreatFire.org a website that monitors online censorship in china, and Martin Jacques, author of China Rules the World: the Rise of the Middle Kingdom, discuss censorship in China and what will be done as a result of the protests.


Business news with Simon Jack.

David Cameron is expected to make his long awaited speech on Europe next week. Lord Bernard Jenkin MP and Lord Brittan discuss what they to see as Britain's stance on Europe and what they see as the dangers of the outcome of Cameron's speech.

Protests continue across India as thousands demand justice for the medical student who was gang raped and tortured on a Delhi bus in mid-December. The BBC's Natalia Antelava looks into why this has lead to an increase in organised crime across the country.

It is 50 years since the premier of the satirical stage musical Oh What a Lovely War and to mark the anniversary it is being revived. Murray Melvin, who was in the original production by Joan Littlewood, reflects on the controversial play.

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