2004
THIS YEAR IN LAS VEGAS ...

WHILE IN THE WORLD ...

That Mysterious Blackout at Bellagio
On April 11, at 2 am, Bellagio goes dark. This kind of accidents may happen in some rare occasions, and for a short time. In this case, power will be completely restored only four days (and several millions of dollars) later.
Emergency systems are sufficient only for some halls, while all rooms stay in a pitch dark. No elevators, no air-conditioning, not even water (plumbing is electronically controlled). More than 1,500 guests are transferred to other hotels.
Of course, the Cirque du Soleil's and the water fountain shows are cancelled. In addition, thousands of plants at the Bellagio Conservatory has to be irrigated manually, as well as the air in the Gallery of Fine Art has to be monitored.

No More Space For the Small Ones
On January 12, the Tam O' Shanter motel is razed to make space for a further expansion of the Venetian. The 100-room Tam O' Shanter motel opened in 1958.
This follows the demolition, on December 11 last year, of La Concha Hotel, opened in 1961 on the North Strip. The Majestic hotel, condo, and retail complaex will be built on its place.

Britney Spears Breaks Another Record
On January 3, pop superstar Britney Spears marries Jason Allen Alexander, a childhood pal. The wedding is celebrated at the Little White Wedding Chapel, on the Strip.
Celebrities weddings do not last long, but Britney's one will set a new record: only 55 hours. The following Monday, January 5, the couple will get the annulment of their marriage.

Which WSOP After the Horseshoe's Age?
Binion's Horseshoe, the historical downtown Hotel and Casino owned by Becky Behnen, daughter of Benny Binion, is closed in January 9 after a raid of the Internal Revenue Service.
What will be the fate of the famous World Series of Poker (WSOP), hosted by the Horseshoe since 1970?
Next March Harrah's Entertainment purchases the Horseshoe. The new owner decides that, this year, WSOP is still hosted by the Horseshoe. In 2005, the tournament will be held at the Harrah's Rio Suites.

Tsunami
Tropical Storm Jeanne (Haiti, Sept. 20), with its 550 victims, was coming to be the worst nature tragedy this year. But, on Dec. 26, an enormous Tsunami devastates the South of Asia causing at least 140,000 death and millions of homeless.
It originates from an earthquake with a magnitude of 9.0, occurring in the Ocean, near the island of Sumatra. The earthquake drives a tidal wave (the tsunami) that moves across the Indian Ocean at a speed of more than 500 miles per hour.
The wave hits the coasts of a dozen of nations. Indonesia will be the nation with the highest number of casualties, about 100,000.

March 11
Europe experiences its ''September 11'' when, on March 11, at least 10 bombs explode in four commuter trains in Madrid, killing 202 people and wounding about 1,400.
This attack comes exactly 2.5 years after the infamous ''nine eleven''. Spanish government accuses Basque Terrorist Groups until, on March 14, al-Qaeda takes responsibility of the bombs.
It becomes clear that the governing Popular Party has tried to use the fear of terrorism against its opponents at the election. With a boomerang effect, Socialist Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero will be elected Prime Minister.

NATO and EU Get New Members
On March 29, seven new members of East Europe (Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia) join NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization).
In the meanwhile, on May 1 European Union gains ten new nations, bringing to 25 the number of members. Discussions for admitting Turkey also start at the end of this year.

News on Gay Marriages in the U.S.
In the United States, a political battle is going on the marriage of same-sex couples. On February 24, President Bush endorses a Constitutional Amendment Banning Gay Marriage, and several states stop this kind of wedding.
However, in the meanwhile marriage licenses are issued to many gay couples, like in San Francisco and in Massachusetts, the first state to have legalized these unions (May 17).

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