UPDATE: The Billy Joel tour date listing referenced below has since been removed, and Joel is scheduled to perform at MSG on 12/20. As of now, the days usually encompassed by Phish’s New Year’s run are still open on the Garden’s schedule.Many people refer to Madison Square Garden as Phish‘s de facto home court. The band has played the World’s Most Famous Arena in the heart of New York City 39 times to date, and the list of shows at the venue include some of the most memorable performances in the band’s career. This summer, the band is set to play an unprecedented 13-show “Baker’s Dozen” run at the Garden, bringing their total number of MSG shows up to 52 (and not-so-coincidentally one-upping Billy Joel‘s record-setting 12-show-per-year pace at the venue).Phish’s MSG runs typically come over New Year’s Eve. Since their reunion in 2009, the band has rung in the new year at the Garden every year except 2009 and 2014 (both of which were held at Miami’s American Airlines Arena). However, with 13 MSG shows on the books for this summer, fans have been curious about how that will affect the band’s usual New Year’s plans.While the answer to those questions has not officially been answered, new information appears to indicate that the band will not return to MSG for New Year’s this year. According to a listing on this Madison Square Garden ticket resale platform [UPDATE: The listing has since been removed], Billy Joel is set to perform at the Garden on December 30th this year, the Saturday of “New Year’s weekend.” Assuming this date is correct (it’s not yet listed on Joel’s website, but it is mentioned in the “Events” section of his Facebook page), that would likely mean that Phish will not play their customary 4-night run there over New Year’s this year. Even if the band started their run on the 31st and played through the 3rd (which they did in Miami in 2014), that would mean the hypothetical run would fall on a Sunday-Wednesday–an unlikely situation in terms of logistics.Does this mean Phish is heading back to Miami for New Year’s? Are they going to pick a new location to ring in 2018? Will there be a Phish New Year’s run at all (the band has already stated that they will not tour this fall)? Are we reading way too far into all this, and it’s all just Internet smoke and mirrors as usual? We’ll have to wait to find out, but we have a feeling people have some pretty strong opinions and theories on the matter. Let’s hear ’em! What do you think Phish will do for New Year’s 2017-2018?Live For Live Music Phish Baker’s Dozen Run Late-Night ShowsJuly 21 – The Werks @ American Beauty (tix)July 21 – The Motet @ BB King Blues Club (tix)July 22 – The Werks @ American Beauty (tix)July 22 – Circles Around The Sun @ Gramercy Theater (tix)July 28 – Dopapod @ Gramercy Theater (tix)July 28 – James Brown Dance Party – 2x Shows @ Highline Ballroom (early tix / late tix)July 29 – Dopapod @ Highline Ballroom (tix)July 29 – Perpetual Groove @ BB King Blues Club (tix)Aug 4 – “Kraz & Taz” Eric Krasno Band w/ Brandon “Taz” Niederauer Band @ The Cutting Room (tix)Aug 5 – Spafford @ BB King Blues Club (tix)
The numbers tell a story of desperation.A recent United Nations report said that more than 100,000 refugees fled the violence in Syria in August, the most of any month since hostilities began early last year between Bashar Assad’s government and rebel forces. Some estimates put last month’s death toll at 5,000. Both sides have been accused of war crimes in a conflict that has taken more than 20,000 lives, including many civilians.Early last week, the United Nations’ new envoy to the war-torn country, Lakhdar Brahimi, called his mission to end the crisis “nearly impossible.”As outside officials struggle to find a way to stop the violence, one scholar offered his perspective on the conflict during a discussion last Thursday sponsored by Harvard University, the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, and the Center for Middle Eastern Studies.Repeating a refrain from recent weeks, Murhaf Jouejati, a professor of Middle East studies at the National Defense University and a member of the Syrian National Council, a coalition of exiled opposition groups based in Turkey, called the situation in Syria a “catastrophe of huge proportions” and one of “unprecedented brutality.”A Syrian native and a specialist on Middle East affairs, Jouejati described the chaos on the ground, including, he said, the government’s recent use of airstrikes against civilians. “Imagine you go to a bakery in the morning hoping to buy a loaf of bread, and you are attacked by an F-14.”Still, although some analysts believe that Assad’s well-armed troops will be difficult to defeat, Jouejati insisted that the regime is close to collapse. He cited as evidence of the government’s slippage: approximately 80,000 members of the opposition forces, largely composed of former Syrian soldiers who refused to fire on civilians; the high-ranking military officials who have defected from the regime to the rebels; and the nation’s skyrocketing inflation and unemployment rates.According to Jouejati, the greatest blow to the government came in July when a blast killed four of Assad’s top security chiefs. That attack, he said, had “a debilitating effect on the regime.”But when it came to offering the crowd that jammed a meeting room in Harvard’s Knafel Building a solution to the crisis, Jouejati was less clear. Answering his own question, “Where do we go from here?” he responded with, “Only Allah knows.”He imagined two polar extremes, but acknowledged that anything in between could happen. He said the best-case scenario would mean the collapse of the Assad regime, the emergence of a transitional government, and ultimately a civil and democratic state. The worst-case scenario, he said, would find the country shattered along ethnic and sectarian lines.“What happens to Syria is a function of what the international community does now,” said Jouejati, who warned that Assad isn’t concerned with sanctions, international courts, or condemnation. “Assad is firmly determined that Syria is his family farm, and he is determined that if he is going to go down, he is going to take down with him the rest of the country.”That mindset, Jouejati said, has led to a lack of political will on either side, with Assad refusing to compromise, and the rebels refusing to negotiate with a leader who has “blood on his hands.”Jouejati insisted that some leaders in the Syrian regime are “good apples,” and that those uninvolved in the violence could negotiate with the rebels and play an important part in a transitional government. He also called for a no-fly zone and a protected area for refugees, created with the help of an international coalition.“I think there could be the emergence of a concert of nations in which there was a distribution of tasks, in which every country is comfortable with its own task,” said Jouejati, adding that many in the Syrian opposition want better weapons, not massive military interventions.Jouejati added that simply the threat of the use of force from the United States and other countries could help deter Assad. He recalled the words of U.S. Sen. John McCain, who in March threatened to use American “airpower” to stop the regime’s attacks.“The same day,” said Jouejati, “four military generals defected. The same day the Syrian pound went from 50 to the dollar to 73 to the dollar. That is because Sen. McCain used the threat of the use of force, and that threat was enough.”He also condemned China, Iran, and Russia for sending military aid to support Assad. “The government of Russia is a partner in mass murder, and let history show that,” Jouejati said.Above all, he called for “human decency.”“We have a civilian population bombed by MiG-23s when they line up for bread, and we are still debating: ‘Should we do this? Should we do that?’ What happened to the words ‘never again’? What happened to human solidarity? How many thousands of Syrians have to die before we take a decision on what to do?”
The U.S. Coast Guard, British Royal Navy and U.S. law enforcement partners seized 1,500 pounds of cocaine, a go-fast vessel and detained three suspected smugglers, during an at-sea interdiction Aug. 16 in the Caribbean Sea. By Dialogo August 28, 2013 The drug shipment is estimated to have a wholesale value of more than $24 million. The interdiction was a result of an international, multi-agency law enforcement effort in support of Operation Unified Resolve, Operation Caribbean Guard, Operation Martillo (a joint, interagency, 15-nation collaborative counter narcotic effort), and the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF). “Our collective aggressive efforts involving international, federal and local enforcement authorities continue to yield positive results,” said Rear Adm. Jake Korn, commander of the Coast Guard Seventh District. Joint Interagency Task Force South relayed to Coast Guard Seventh District and Coast Guard Sector San Juan Command Center watchstanders that the crew of a patrolling U.S. Customs and Border Protection P-3 fixed-wing marine surveillance aircraft detected a suspicious 30-foot go-fast vessel Aug. 16. The vessel was spotted carrying three suspected smugglers, who were using a tarp to conceal their position.