Insight, analysis and expert debate as key policy makers are challenged on the latest news stories.
Presented by James Naughtie and Evan Davis.
The Patients Association has called for the urgent reform of hospital regulation after appalling standards of care resulting in patients dying were found in Essex. Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found blood-splattered equipment, blood-stained floors and badly soiled mattresses at Basildon and Thurrock NHS trust. In the same month as the CQC issued the trust with a warning over poor standards it was rated 'good' on quality of service. Director of policy at the Patients Association, Kieran Mullan, examines the hospital regulation system.
A new high-speed rail line is to be built connecting Scotland and London. The line will pass through the Chilterns, a protected area of outstanding natural beauty. The company responsible for the new line, High Speed Two, is investigating possible routes and will report back to the government at the end of the year. Nicola Stanbridge reports on the views of those who live in the Chilterns.
President Obama has paid tribute to the US military on Thanksgiving Day in the US. In a few days he is expected to lay out his new plans for fighting the war in Afghanistan. Robert Fox, war reporter for the London Evening Standard, discusses President Obama's Afghan policy.
Lawyers for Gary McKinnon, the British man accused of hacking into US computers, are preparing to challenge the home secretary's decision not to block his extradition. Alan Johnson said last night that he had seen no medical evidence to suggest that extraditing Mr McKinnon, who has Asperger's syndrome, would breach his human rights. Mr McKinnon's, lawyer Karen Todner, discusses the appeal.
Almost 20,000 people have signed a petition calling for a reform of England's libel laws, after two libel cases were brought against scientists. Campaigners are concerned that the laws are stifling scientific critical debate of medical and other scientific practice. Tracey Brown, managing director of Sense About Science, which organised the petition, discusses libel law.
Ecologists have developed a way of monitoring the size of bird populations from recordings of their song. Writing in the British Ecological Society's Journal of Applied Ecology, researchers have found it provides a more accurate estimate of numbers than using nets to capture birds, which they say can be stressful for them. Science correspondent Pallab Ghosh reports on the new technique.
Thought for the Day with the Chief Rabbi, Sir Jonathan Sacks.
The high-speed rail travel experiences of Japan and France could become a way of life in the UK. Travel between major cities including London and Glasgow would be completed in under three hours. Lord Adonis, Secretary of State for Transport, discusses the new high-speed service.
A taskforce is being sent to Basildon and Thurrock NHS trust after Care Quality Commission inspectors identified serious concerns in emergency care, hygiene and cleanliness. The Trust, which has a mortality rate a third higher than the national average, was rated as 'good' on quality of service in the CQC's 2008/09 assessment and marked 'excellent' for its financial management. Martina Davies, a former patient at the hospital, comments on her experience of care. Sir Brian Jarman of Imperial College, London, who was involved in the inquiry into the deaths of heart patients at the Bristol Royal Infirmary, and Baroness Young, chair of the Care Quality Commission, discuss hospital morality rates.
How do you complete a cryptic crossword? A new book published today provides tips and pointers for answering the clues. Colin Dexter, author of the book and creator of Inspector Morse, and Sandy Balfour, author of Clue to Our Lives: 80 Years of the Guardian Cryptic Crossword, discuss how best to approach a crossword's cryptic teasers.
The results of an investigation into Dubai's financial crisis are being released. The Warwick Commission, an international group of academics and practitioners, is looking at how to prevent the causes of the crisis, and is the latest of numerous investigations into the malfunctioning of the financial system. Professor Avinash Persaud, the commission's chair, discusses its findings.
Negotiations for the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit appear to be moving closer to completion. Sergeant Shalit was captured and taken into Gaza by Palestinian militants three-and-a-half years ago. A deal would involve Israel freeing several hundred Palestinian prisoners in return. Middle East correspondent Tim Franks examines the ramifications of a prisoner swap.
Some 20,000 people have signed a petition calling for England's libel laws to be reformed. The laws are being used to 'silence critical discussion of medical practice and scientific evidence', according to the signatories. Dr Peter Wilmshurst, cardiologist at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, who is being sued for comments he made at a conference in the US, and shadow justice secretary Dominic Gr