One year ago, during Christmas 2003, U.S. authorities forced Air France to cancel six flights between Paris and Los Angeles.
Since Las Vegas was the only major city that the canceled flights would have crossed, speculation ran high that al Queda had targeted "Sin City" for a terrorist attack.
As reported by the Washington Post in its December 26th story titled "Suspicious Passengers Questioned in France," U.S. officials feel that the al Queda network "has long considered Las Vegas to be one of its top targets for a strike because it sees the city as a citadel of Western licentiousness."
Having just returned two weeks ago from a brief trip to Las Vegas, I agree that the city is teeming with examples of wretched excess, at best, or, at worst, utter and complete decadence.
What happened to the old Las Vegas?
When I was a kid, my parents took my sisters and me to Las Vegas for brief getaways from our Los Angeles home.
We couldn't believe our good fortune. No matter what hotel we stayed at, each had a pool!
But what passed for a pool fifty years ago in Las Vegas would hardly be considered an adequate bathtub at today's mega resorts like the Mandalay Bay.
The Mandalay Bay pool—which I use as a symbol of countless examples of Las Vegas overkill—is a 41,000 square foot pool with six-foot waves surrounded by 11 acres of tropical water environment with an adjacent beach made from 1,700 tons of sand.
Las Vegas is unlike any other city.
Despite being December, signs of Christmas were few and far between. Comedian Rich Hall once said that spending Christmas in Las Vegas was like spending Halloween at the Vatican.
Every place is full—the Bellagio, Spago, Harry Winston, the casinos, the parking lots, the cabstands, and the shows. Money is no object.
If you want to go next door from the Luxor to the Excalibur, for example, plan on walking for 45 minutes through pedestrian walkways and moving staircases.
The $3.99 buffet has given way to Emeril's $30.00 fried oyster Caesar Salad.
Now more changes are in store for Las Vegas as it enters into a vertical real estate boom.
Last month, the MGM Mirage, owner of 11 casinos, announced plans to invest $4 billion to construct 1,650 luxury condominiums on the heart of the Strip between the Bellagio and Monte Carlo hotels.
Residential development is a new direction for MGM Mirage. According to spokesman Alan Feldman, "Before, you were either a residential builder or in the gaming industry. There was no overlap. That has all changed. This is being defined as a real estate investment rather than a gaming investment."
Continuing, Feldman added, "What we want is an urban environment with pedestrian walkways and residences on top of retail shops and restaurants."
This is Las Vegas today: the fastest-growing metropolis in the United States consuming precious resources with nary a peep about sustainability.
The more than 5,000 people that arrive in the Las Vegas Valley every month represent an annual growth rate of 7.5%. Thousands of homes and business facilities are built to accommodate them.
By 2005, Las Vegas will have 2 million permanent residents and nearly 35 million annual visitors.
They will all need water but where will it come from?
Lake Meade, which supplies 90% of Las Vegas' water, has dropped 85 feet over the past several years. Predictions are that it will continue to drop. Las Vegas entered into a Drought Alert January 2004. Serious restrictions on water use are in effect.
Like Lake Meade, Lake Powell also has a seriously low water level. As of two months ago, the water was 430 feet deep at the dam.
A few years ago, the proposed Ring Around the Valley plan would have contained Las Vegas growth within certain boundaries. But it was rejected by the legislature.
Instead the Southern Nevada Strategic Planning authority devised a 20-year blueprint for continued growth.
In Las Vegas nothing stops those who profit most from growth. Casino owners, developers, and their suppliers rake it in at the expense of the average citizen. As seriously as the al Queda threat must be taken, the Las Vegas power brokers are doing a fine job of destroying the city all by themselves.
Joenote to VDARE.COM Readers:
VDARE.COM has consistently pointed out the relationship between illegal immigration and corporate greed. Nowhere is this more evident than in Las Vegas.
Since 1990, roughly when the mega resort boom started, the Hispanic population in Las Vegas has quadrupled. Las Vegas is now nearly 25% Hispanic.
The illegal aliens who flocked to Las Vegas have been shamelessly exploited.
By working for chicken scratch, they helped created the boom.
The aliens built the houses, washed the dishes, cooked the food and changed the beds. Through their willingness—eagerness, really—to work for minimum wage, the illegal aliens have forced American workers out of the Las Vegas job market.
And while the aliens toiled for chumpchange, Wall Street tycoons like Steve Wynn made billions.
And President Bush, judging by his December 20th year-end press conference, thinks it is all fine and dandy.
The type of "immigration" President Bush endorsed—again—will make the rich richer, the poor poorer, and eliminate the American middle class.