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13/02/2015

Morning news and current affairs. Including Sports Desk, Yesterday in Parliament, Weather and Thought for the Day.

Release date:

3 hours

Last on

Fri 13 Feb 2015 06:00

Today's running order

0650

Today is the 70th anniversary of the Dresden bombardment by allied troops. Thousands are expected to attend a memorial service in the city centre, President Gauck will speak. In the last few years the occasion has also been used by German Neo-Nazis to stage rallies, leading to rather tense stand-offs with counter-demonstrators. Allied bombing killed more than 25,000 people in the city. Memories of those days prompted Kurt Vonnegut to write one of the defining novels of the twentieth century, Slaughter House 5. A new exhibition explores the literary testaments to the destruction of the city, from Vonnegut's masterpiece, to propaganda and memories of survivors.

 0710

Virgin Media is announcing a big new investment in broadband worth £3 billion and the company claims it will create 6000 jobs.  Virgin has a network which already covers half of the country - around 13 million people - and they are going to increase that to 17 million people. Rory Cellan-Jones is the BBC Technology Correspondent

0715

European leaders say they may impose more sanctions on Russia if it fails to observe a new ceasefire deal in eastern Ukraine.  The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, said the European Union was already drawing up further sanctions. She was speaking after briefing EU leaders on the agreement she and the French president brokered between Russia and Ukraine during marathon talks.  What is happening in eastern Ukraine ahead of the start of the ceasefire at midnight on Saturday?

0720

A new study published in the Lancet this morning suggests taking hormone replacement therapy, or HRT, for menopause, even for just a few years, could significantly increase the risk of developing the two most common form of ovarian cancer. Analysis of 52 epidemiological studies, involving almost twenty-and-a-half thousand women with ovarian cancer indicate that women who use HRT for just a few years are about 40 per cent more likely to develop the disease than women who have never taken the therapy. Professor Richard Peto from the University of Oxford is the report author.

0730

Growing numbers of Polish people in the UK are applying for British citizenship. That means they'll be able to vote in the General Election. And while the numbers so far are small, they could make a difference in the very marginal constituency of Southampton Itchen - where Labour held the seat in 2010 with just under 200 votes. Sanchia Berg reports from Southampton as part of our coverage of 100 constituencies in the run-up to the General Election. Witold Sobków is the Polish ambassador to the UK.

0740

Holding on to history in the 21st century: Google Guru Vint Cerf is raising concerns that the vast amounts of data we have currently stored on computers (personal, corporate and historical) won't be preserved because silicon quickly degrades. He says there is an urgent need to come up with a technological solution or our past will be erased.

0750

A coroner has written to the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, to raise concerns about patients with symptoms of mental illness receiving insufficient mental health assessments when they are admitted to hospital. It follows the death of a 27 year old woman, who was found hanged on a ward in Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester. The coroner in the case, Nigel Meadows, ruled that Kimberly Lindfield's death could have been prevented, if staff had assessed her properly when she was admitted in 2012 for treatment for an overdose. In his letter, Mr Meadows warns that other patients could be at risk elsewhere. Kimberly Lindfield’s mother Kerry Bentley and director of Inquest Deborah Coles.

0810

The BBC has seen correspondence sent to the British tax authorities back in 2008 which gave details of HSBC account holders in Switzerland. The bank has been criticised for helping wealthy clients including British citizens to avoid or evade tax. The emails sent by Herve Falciani were obtained by Le Monde newspaper. Keir Starmer is a former Director of Public Prosecutions and Patrick Stevens is tax policy director at the Chartered Institute of Taxation.

0820

European leaders have wrapped up a summit in Brussels by welcoming a ceasefire deal that it's hoped will bring to an end fighting in Ukraine. But the leaders warned that if Russia and the separatists it backs break the deal they could face the threat of new sanctions. Meanwhile the Greek and German leaders spoke of their desire to seek a compromise solution to the standoff over Greece's huge bailout programme. Our Europe Editor Gavin Hewitt.

0825

The ENO exists to offer an English-language, dramatically-oriented alternative to the Royal Opera, and it receives public subsidy to stage work with artistic value - but yesterday the Arts Council put it into special financial measures, with a warning it must improve or face removal of its funding. Saddled with the largest venue in London - the 2,000 seater Coliseum – and huge overheads, how can the ENO go about making opera pay? Raymond Gubbay is an impresario who stages commercial operas.

0830

European leaders say they may impose more sanctions on Russia if it fails to observe a new ceasefire deal in eastern Ukraine.  The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, said the European Union was already drawing up further sanctions. She was speaking after briefing EU leaders on the agreement she and the French president brokered between Russia and Ukraine during marathon talks. 

0840

This week's edition of The Economist claims school systems around the world, including the UK are “designed to attract mediocre timeservers” and calls for reforms to encourage more “hardworking and ambitious” entrants. That would mean tougher entry requirements, higher – performance related – pay, more work during the holidays, and weeding out underperformers. The magazine says “standing in the way, almost everywhere, are the unions” who are ever willing “to back shirkers over strivers”. Helen Joyce is the article author and Dr Mary Bousted is General Secretary of the union the Association of Teachers and Lecturers.

0850

One of the figureheads of the New Romantic movement in the early 1980s, Steve Strange, has died. He was the front-man of the electronic band Visage, and managed the London club Blitz, where acts such as Spandau Ballet and Duran Duran started out before finding fame. His record label said he had a heart attack and died in his sleep in Egypt. He was 55.

0855

Today is the 70th anniversary of the Dresden bombardment by allied troops. (see 0650). Angars Snethlage is curator for the Exhibition "Slaughterhouse 5 - Literary Testaments to the Destruction of Dresden" at the Bundeswehr Museum of Military History and Professor Anne Fuchs is Professor of German Studies at the University of Warwick and author of "After the Dresden Bombing: Pathways of Memory, 1945 to the Present".

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