Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.

  • Ban the burkha? That can't be fair

    Alex Kasriel
    Jun 24, 2009

    While I am not in favour of women being made to wear restrictive, all enveloping clothing that covers their faces I can't say I agree with Nicholas Sarkozy and his desire to ban the burkha.

    In a free society men and women should be able to choose whatever they want to wear however bonkers or impractical that might be.

    If he argues that the item was thought up by men as a way to opress women, banning it won't change men's attitude. And if the burkha means women are allowed to leave the house at all - then it must be a good thing.

  • Simon and Sir Philip – a match made in money heaven

    Candice Krieger
    Jun 24, 2009

    So, Simon Cowell and Sir Philip Green are set to take over the world with a multi-billion dollar international television business that they hope could become bigger than Disney.

    The new TV production, talent management and merchandising company will reportedly be based in Los Angeles and London, and own all the rights and content of Mr Cowell’s hit show; Britain’s Got Talent, X factor and American Idol.

    The move surprised the City today but surely it has been quite a while coming.

  • Yes, we got it exactly right on Villa D'Este

    Jan Shure
    Jun 24, 2009

    The JC travel section is always happy to be ahead of the curve. This week, we got our timing absolutely right when, just a few days after our hotel review of Villa D’Este, the historic Italian hotel – and regular haunt of politicos, royals, writers, rock-stars and movie-stars – was voted the world’s best hotel by Forbes Traveller.

    The editors of Forbes Traveller conducted a poll among their top travel connoisseurs (and at Forbes Magazines, that really is the top echelon of businesspeople in the world), asking them to rate nearly 800 of the world’s best hotels and to name their single best hotel overall. To qualify to be a member of the judging panel - which included celebrities, journalists and business leaders - each of them had to have stayed in at least 20, five-star hotels each year. To achieve such exalted status, the hotel, which sits majestically beside Lake Como, was judged on – among other things - room quality, service, decor and cuisine.

    As the writer of the JC piece, I am thrilled to have my judgement endorsed by the readers of Forbes; it just goes to show, we know our hotels at the JC... Review: Villa D’Este, Lake Como, Italy

  • Public schoolboys

    Stephen Pollard
    Jun 24, 2009

    I took part last night in the first Spectator debate. You can read about it here.

    Especially interesting was the barbed comment at the end of David Davis' speech. He was arguing alongside me in favour of grammar schools:

    Today we are witnessing the results of a failed revolution, where
    egalitarians abolished grammar schools to level opportunity in our
    society, and accidentally destroyed the chances of the very people they
    were trying to help.

  • Prime Minister Bercow?

    Stephen Pollard
    Jun 24, 2009

    Paul Linford has a fascinating post on previous examples of 'young' Speakers (I do like that adjective being widely applied to a 46 year old man):

    The year 1789 is chiefly remembered for being the year of the French
    Revolution. But it was also the year the Commons elected two
    thirty-something Speakers who both went on to occupy Number 10 Downing

    The first of these was William Grenville, who was
    elected Speaker at the ripe old age of 30 and held the office only very
    briefly before quitting to become Home Secretary.

  • Hit me bubelah one more time

    Marcus Dysch
    Jun 22, 2009

    According to reports in the States today, Britney Spears is set to agree to play a role in a somewhat peculiar film about the Holocaust.

    The National Lodger website claims the controversial singer will appear in "The Yellow Star of Sophia and Eton" after completing her Circus concert tour.

    Apparently the film features the story of Sophia LaMont (Spears' supposed character) who builds a time machine and travels back to World War Two where she meets Eton, a Jewish man held in a concentration camp.

  • The Lubavitch rabbi and the ‘Kill children' controversy

    Simon Rocker
    Jun 22, 2009

    Rabbi Manis Friedman is a veteran Lubavitch lecturer whose students at one time included Bob Dylan in Minnesota.

    But now he has become the centre of controversy over remarks he made to an American Jewish magazine saying that the “only way to fight a moral war” is to “kill men, women and children”.

    He was one of the rabbis invited by Moment’s Ask the rabbi column to respond to the question, “How should Jews treat their Arab neighbours?”
    Here is most of his published response:

  • Pied pipering

    Stephen Pollard
    Jun 22, 2009

    I love this story from the Aberdeen Press and Journal:

    A PLAN to drive youngsters away from congregating at a shop by playing classical music failed — when the children became fans.

    Bosses at the Co-op store in the Cove area of Aberdeen became fed up with the youngsters causing trouble outside.

    They invested money in a music system which played only orchestral sounds in the hope it would keep them away — but it failed.

    Duty manager Craig Singers said: “It had the opposite effect.

    “On nights when the music wasn't playing the kids would
    come into the shop and ask why it wasn't on. They grew to like it. That
    wasn't what we wanted to happen.

  • Hands off our rabbis, Israel

    Simon Rocker
    Jun 19, 2009

    English rabbis are apparently highly prized among Jerusalem's strictly Orthodox community.

    But the Jewish Tribune columnist Ben Yitzchok is none too impressed at rumours that representatives from Israel are "fishing around" London in the hope of recruiting rabbinic talent.

    Let them grow their own rather than deprive London's strictly Orthodox community of "another one of their treasured rabbonim", he advises in this week's edition.