Big Question

The Big Question: Why is Wagner's legacy proving so bitter both to

On Sunday a memorial service will be held in Bayreuth in Germany for Wolfgang Wagner, grandson of the composer Richard Wagner, who died on 21 March aged 90. Wolfgang Wagner ran the Wagner Festival at Bayreuth, the annual celebration of his grandfather's operas, from 1951 to 2008. Now it has been revealed that his son, Gottfried, has not been invited to the memorial service – the latest twist in a long-running family feud – and the German Chancellor and Wagner-lover Angela Merkel may be called on to intervene.

The Big Question: Is Iraq on the road to democracy?

Iraqis went to the polls on 7 March to choose a 325-member parliament to replace the one elected in 2005. The results have only recently been announced and are being challenged by the Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. It is expected to take four or five months to produce a new government and violence has not diminished. Bombings in Baghdad on Sunday killed 41 people and wounded a further 437.

The Big Question: Why does the conflict between Russia and Chechnya

On Monday, 39 people died after two female suicide bombers, believed to be from Russia's troubled North Caucasus, blew themselves up on the Moscow underground. Russian intelligence believes that other suicide bombers, members of the same group, are out there, waiting to launch equally bloody and symbolic attacks on prestigious sites close to the Kremlin. Their leader, Doku Umarov, claimed responsibility.

The Big Question: Are efforts to tackle home-grown Muslim extremism

A cross-party committee of MPs have just finished a six-month investigation into Prevent, the government's anti-radicalisation programme, and have decided that it is doing exactly the opposite of what it was meant to do. Prevent is supposed to help British Muslims stand up to the small number of extremists in their midst and encourage those who might be tempted by terrorism to turn their backs on it. But a report published this week by the MPs found that it was, in fact, doing more harm than good.

The Big Question: Is Google right to abandon its search engine in

This week Google carried out its threat to abandon its Chinese-language search engine in China, google.cn, transferring it instead to Hong Kong, which is a Special Administrative Region of China since the handover in 1997 and does not have to obey Chinese censorship rules. Predictably, mainland Chinese users are not able to access the site easily.

The Big Question: Should pre-election giveaways feature in Mr

The Chancellor has been presented with a modest windfall of £8-12bn from higher-than-expected tax receipts, thanks to the rally in share prices, lower borrowing and lower-than-expected unemployment reducing the cost of the jobless. So in spite of predicting in last year's Budget that Britain's economy faced the worst year since the Second World War, Darling could afford a flutter with his windfall.

The Big Question: Why are Thai protesters giving blood, and when will

In recent days, the streets of Bangkok have been swamped by tens of thousands of boisterous red-shirted protesters who say they are marching to save Thailand's democracy. As the so-called Red Shirts have filled the streets of the Thai capital they have been noisy but overwhelmingly peaceful. They have now started collecting blood – asking for 20 teaspoons from each demonstrator – and splashing it on the floor outside the Prime Minister's office. Health officials argue such a large amount of donated blood could be put to good use medically.

The Big Question: Should 12, rather than 10, be the age of criminal

The new Children's Commissioner, Maggie Atkinson, said at the weekend that the age of criminal responsibility should be raised from 10 to 12. She told The Times: "The age of criminal responsibility in this country is 10 – that's too low. It should certainly be moved up to 12. In some European countries it's 14. People may be offenders, but they are also children. Even the most hardened of youngsters who have committed some very difficult crimes are not beyond being frightened."

The Big Question: Are we heading towards a hung parliament, and how

Until the end of January all opinion polls were telling us that the Conservatives were heading for decisive victory at the general election, likely to take place on 6 May. But in the past four or five weeks, the gap between the main parties has been narrower. Judging by the current polls, it appears that the Conservatives will be the largest party in the new Parliament, but will not have enough MPs to control it outright.

The Big Question: Is Britain's cocaine problem out of control, and

A report released by the Home Affairs Select Committee suggests that cocaine is now seen as socially acceptable in Britain and that while much is being done to tackle the supply side of the cocaine industry not enough is being done to address the spiralling demand. The report by MPs came a day after a separate NHS report identified a worrying increase in hospital admissions relating to cocaine use among teenagers.

The Big Question: Is the Yorkshire Ripper going to be released early

The serial killer Peter Sutcliffe, who was given 20 life sentences in 1981 for murdering 13 women – he was known as the Yorkshire Ripper because he mutilated his victims' bodies with a sharpened screwdriver – has applied to the High Court for a ruling on how much longer he must serve in jail.

The Big Question: Why the concern over the conduct of the press, and

Because MPs on the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee (CMS) yesterday published a report calling for wide-ranging reform of the way the press operates, including demands for major changes to the libel laws and recommendations relating to an individual's right to privacy.

The Big Question: Is Google gaining a monopoly on the world's

It is the nagging fear that has just been given voice in a Manhattan courtroom. Dozens of Google's opponents lined up to damn the internet pioneer as monopolistic, rapacious, and contemptuous of laws that protect copyright and protect consumers from dominant corporations. Google's response could be summed up as: "Who? Us?"

The Big Question: Does lobbying threaten to drag politics further into

David Cameron this week warned that political lobbying was about to produce the next big scandal unless there was more transparency, arguing that it was "an issue that crosses party lines and has tainted our politics for too long, an issue that exposes the far-too-cosy relationship between politics, government, business and money".

The Big Question: Should the BBC drop the Met Office as its official

Rather than renewing its current weather forecasting contract with the Met Office automatically, when it expires in April, the BBC is putting it out to tender – for the first time since 1922, when national broadcaster and national forecaster first became partners. No one on either side says how much the contract is worth.

The Big Question: Are we heading towards a 3D screen future?

The technology is suddenly everywhere – heralded as the future of television and transforming cinema-goers' experience. This week rugby sponsors O2 announced that England's upcoming Six Nations matches with Wales and Ireland would be beamed live in 3D to 40 Odeon and Cineworld cinemas nationwide next month. Meanwhile James Cameron's Avatar is proving the most successful 3D movie ever made, with takings that have topped over $1bn, and Pixar's Up took $680m globally. In 2010 around 20 out of 170 movies will be made in 3D, double the number from last year. A 3D animated remake of the Beatles' Yellow Submarine, directed by Robert Zemeckis, is also in the pipeline. At last week's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas all the major TV manufacturers unveiled 3D sets. BSkyB plans to launch a 3D channel later this year.

The Big Question: Do juryless trials risk obscuring the transparency

This week Britain's first crown court criminal trial to take place without a jury in more than 400 years started at the Royal Courts of Justice. The case, involving four men accused of a £1.75m armed robbery, is being heard by a judge, sitting alone, who will decide upon the men's guilt or otherwise.