Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.

  • Oh dear, what can the matter be?

    Marcus Dysch
    May 7, 2009

    I anticipated numerous problems that could crop up on my trip to follow Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor around Belfast.

    Getting locked in a toilet cubicle at Stormont, home of the Northern Ireland Assembly, was not one of them.

    Having successfully negotiated the understandably tight security at the parliament building – you’ll remember Loyalist killer Michael Stone threatening to shoot a security guard in the lobby in 2006 – I was waiting for the Israeli delegation to arrive for their meetings.

  • Cock-up, not conspiracy

    Stephen Pollard
    May 7, 2009

    Yes, yes, it was lovely to see both Arsenal and Chelsea booted out (especially as Chelsea lost to my second favourite team).

    The idea seems to have taken hold that the referee last night was in some ways carrying out UEFA orders to avoid a second all English final.

    Last night's match thought was proof that, when it comes to cock-up versus conspiracy, it's almost always a cock-up. How do those who think Chelsea were beaten by a UEFA conspiracy explain the fact that the ref wrongly sent off a Barcelona player? If he'd been trying to force a Barcelona win, the last thing he would have done is send off a Barcelona player, especially when there was no cause to send anyone off.

  • The EU knows best

    Stephen Pollard
    May 7, 2009

    Dan Hannan has an interesting post on his blog, on what he (rightly) calls the EU's attempts to get its hands on the internet. As he writes:

    Viviane Reding, bonsai Commissioner from the bonsai state of
    Luxembourg, wants ICANN, the company that allocates Internet addresses,
    to be taken over by an international consortium: what she calls "a G12 for Internet governance".

    What is her problem with the current model? That it doesn't work?
    That it's too expensive? That people can't register the names they
    want? Nope. She objects to it because it is American. As she put it earlier this week:

  • Ratzinger , Benedict and the SS

    Stephen Pollard
    May 7, 2009

    We had a seminar here last week on Pope Benedict, prior to his visit to Israel.

    One of the stories which emerged, about which I - and, having asked around, the same goes for many other people - was wholly ignorant was his extraordinary decision as Cardinal Ratzinger to break away from a ceremony marking the Normandy landings, to visit SS graves at La Cambe.

  • Avram’s still unique

    Danny Caro
    May 7, 2009

    Avram Grant. Remember him? Still the only man to take Chelsea to a Champions League final.

    While referee Tom Ovrebo has been struck off the Christmas card list of every Chelsea supporter, the conduct of German captain Michael Ballack and Didier Drogba, who was off the pitch having been substituted, must be punished by Uefa.

    Two of the most high-profile players in the Premier League lost their cool, chasing the match official to protest and vent their anger at several decisions they felt he had got wrong.

  • My handy secret weapon against swine flu...

    Jan Shure
    May 7, 2009

    Neurotic that the man sneezing near you on the tube has deposited swine flu bacteria all over the armrest next to your seat? Utterly terrified that the hand holding the grab-rail ahead of you as you emerge from the underground may have recently been used to stifle a bacteria-laden cough or splutter? Freaked by the need to touch the door-knob in order to enter your favourite shop? Desperate for a way to wash your hands before you arrive at your destination? Yup, me too. Because, with the UK harbouring the largest number of cases in Europe - and some of them in Barnet, north-west London - aren't we are all more than a bit neurotic about swine flu right now.

  • Wait and see...

    Stephen Pollard
    May 6, 2009

    Here's a bit of a tease. We have a great exclusive front page story this week, on a split in the ranks of the anti-Israelis. All I'll say is it's about antisemitism, and takes in some of the most prominent Israel haters. And one of them is shown to be even more stupid than some of has have long thought.

  • Youtube if you want to

    Simon Rocker
    May 6, 2009

    Gordon Brown's use of Youtube may continue to be a source of national amusement - but the Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks has no qualms about promoting his work on video.
    In a Youtube outing, he talks about his latest book, the Koren Siddur - an adaptation of his translation and commentary of the Singer's for the North American market.