Daily Archives: May 27, 2009

President Obama Visits Nellis Air Force Base today in Las Vegas

Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas hosted President Barack Obama today giving him an up close tour of the 140-acre solar photovoltaic array that has been running since December 2007.  The installation at Nellis is the largest of it’s kind in the United States and an example of how solar energy can be captured and processed in a sun-soaked state. nellis

The Nellis power plant was funded by NV Energy in return for energy credits which may be sold to other utilities.  The Air Force buys their power at reduced rates and rough estimates indicate that the solar array could save the service $1 million per year or $40 million over the 40 year lifespan of the project. 

While at Nellis, President Obama gave a speech at the Thunderbirds’ hanger to 400 airmen and other base personnel about the progress made during the first 100 days of the Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  

Obama said the expectation is that there will be more than $467 million in stimulus money used “to expand and accelerate the development, deployment and use of geothermal and solar energy throughout the United States.” Nevada is in line for more than $1.5 billion dollars in Recovery Act funds. 

Today’s event followed the Tuesday night Caesars Palace fundraiser for Democratic Senator Harry Reid that the President attended. 

President Obama will leave Nevada for Los Angeles later today where he will attend a Democratic National Committee fundraiser.

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Las Vegas Performing Arts Center Breaks Ground

Any cultural and business development in Las Vegas is a good thing in our sputtering economy.    But the Smith CenterSmithCenter Smith Center of the Performing Arts groundbreakingfor the Performing Arts groundbreaking ceremony at the newly named Symphony Park yesterday in Las Vegas wasn’t just any commonplace development- it provides a significant cornerstone to energize the Las Vegas economy, not just when it opens early 2012, but all during the building crescendo. 

“This is being built to be here for the next couple of hundred years and that’s significant in a town that has a tendency to blow things up after 30 to 40 years,” said Don Snyder, the center’s chairman told approximately 150 invited guests, including Fred W. Smith and wife Mary, the namesake for the center. 

The Las Vegas Philharmonic and Nevada Ballet Theatre will be permanent residents of the center. Smith Center of the Performing Arts groundbreaking

The center will be anchored by a 2,050-seat main theater and includes an education facility, a cabaret theater and space for children’s and community events. 

Asked afterward about those skeptical of the money spent on the $485 million center and its cultural mission in a city that struggles to get past of its “Sin City” reputation, Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman had some choice words for skeptics:Smith Center of the Performing Arts groundbreaking

“To those people I say, we have a lake out there, they can jump in it.  And I’d put the cement on their feet…This is the equivalent of getting an NFL franchise…We still want to have great entertainment and hotels and food and bring in tourists, but for people who live here, these are things that make a world-class city.”

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Annie Duke Faces Rival Joan Rivers Today at Las Vegas Charity Poker Tournament

Fans of NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice may need to do a double take on May 27th after seeing Annie Duke join forces with archrival Joan Rivers at a charity poker tournament today in Las Vegas.  

Online poker site www.UltimateBet.net announced the sponsorship of the “Sucking out on the Rivers” charity poker tournament in support of Refugees International. Annie Duke will be hosting the event alongside Frank Marino, a well-known Joan Rivers impersonator.  Nearly all of the top poker pros in Vegas are already on board to play in the charity tournament. 

“I think that after this poker tournament, the real Joan Rivers will quickly realize that poker players are good-naturedAnnieDuke people – professional people with respected occupations and families – who really want to change the lives of those less fortunate,” stated Annie Duke. “As poker players, we’re all banding together, not just to prove a point to Joan, but to actually change the world.” 

While the charity poker tournament will be co-hosted by a Joan Rivers impersonator, the real Joan Rivers went head-to-head with Annie Duke on the most recent season of Celebrity Apprentice. The often abrasive and brash comedienne told Annie, on camera, that all poker players were white trash and that none of them had last names, suggesting that those who love poker are automatically linked to organized crime.  Rivers’ opinion has drawn the ire of many in the poker world. 

The world’s top poker players and several Hollywood celebrities are slated to play in the charity poker event today to show that there’s a lot of good that comes from poker. Over 20 Joan Rivers impersonators will also be playing in the event and each one will have a bounty on his or her head. Poker fans can secure their spot in the tournament for $200 and the No Limit Texas Hold’em tourney features rebuys and add-ons to help the prize pool grow even higher. 

Although all the prize money will go to the winner, half of the winnings are being voluntarily directed to charity. While Nevada gaming laws prohibit money being given directly from the prize pool to charity, the winner may volunteer to donate half of their winnings to the charity in keeping with what had been done in previous charity events hosted by UltimateBet.net. 

The “Sucking out on the Rivers” Charity Event, sponsored by www.UltimateBet.net, DeepStacks University, Hard Rock Poker Lounge, and WSOP Academy, gets underway today, May 27th at 6 p.m. at the Hard Rock Casino Poker Lounge.

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Liberace’s Legacy Lives On After Death With Monthly Revue

The Liberace Museum has been a part of the Las Vegas Experience since 1979, entertaining tourists and locals while preserving the Liberace star and funding scholarships for more than 2000 students at more than 100 colleges. LiberaceMuseum

“Mr. Showmanship” spent decades entertaining in clubs, theatres and even Carnegie Hall.  While he may be best remembered for his flamboyant style (rumor has it that he introduced Elvis Presley to his first flashy stage costume),  he saw his success as an opportunity to assist others. 

Liberace’s education was funded in large part by scholarships and in his book, ‘The Things I Love’, Liberace wrote, “a lot of good things have happened to me in show business and I want to do what I can to give others just starting out a career boost. I hope The Foundation projects will continue into the future to offer gifted newcomers financial help, and in many cases, artistic exposure as well.” 

As part of the on-going effort to continue the work of the Liberace Foundation and Museum, a new monthly revue will premier at 9p.m. on Wednesday, May 27 at the museum’s theater, 17705 E. Tropicana Avenue. 

“VS. – A Rock Cabaret,” will feature a variety of entertainers and become a regular last Wednesday of the month event in Las Vegas.  The performers on the ticket for this months show include Erich Bergen and Kristofer McNeeley from “Jersey Boys”; and Bobby Black from the Las Vegas Tenors and Melanie Taylor from “Ultimate Manilow: The Hits”. 

Tickets are $20 each.  For more information, 702-798-5595 extension 14 or at http://www.liberace.org/

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Boxing Champ Mike Tyson’s Daughter Dies

The four-year-old daughter of heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson died Tuesday after an accident at home in Phoenix.  Tyson was in Las Vegas at the time and immediately flew back to Arizona. Mike Tyson

Exodus Tyson was playing near a workout treadmill on Monday when she somehow became entangled with a cord hanging from the machine.  Her seven-year-old brother reportedly found Exodus and told his mother who then called 911 and began administering first aid. 

Firefighters performed CPR and Exodus was taken to St Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Centre where she was listed in critical condition.  Tuesday morning Exodus was removed from life support and subsequently died. 

In a statement released Tuesday, the Tyson family said: “There are no words to describe the tragic loss of our beloved Exodus. We ask you now to please respect our need at this very difficult time for privacy to grieve and try to help each other heal.” 

Condolences from Las Vegas Backstage Access to the Tyson family on the loss of Exodus Tyson.

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U.S. President Barack Obama Swoops into Las Vegas, Leaves Little Impact

Not long ago outspoken Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman was taking to the air waves to voice his dismay at comments that President Barack Obama made.  In the February speech on bank excesses and the economic distress faced by so many, Obama stated “You can’t get corporate jets. You can’t go take a trip to Las Vegas, or go down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayers’ dime.  There has got to be some accountability and some responsibility, and that’s something that I intend to impose as President of the United States.” 

Goodman responded with a full-media assault – demanding an apology, even as 340 corporations and business meetings were canceled or worse, moved from Las Vegas to San Francisco, San Diego and Phoenix. 

But it’s always been said that politics make strange bedfellows and now, just months later, the media was on hand when Goodman met Air Force One at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas on Tuesday, shook President Obama’s hand and escorted him to the waiting motorcade. 

After starting his day in Washington with the announcement of  Sonia Sotomayo for the Supreme Court, President Obama ended his day at a Caesar’s Palace fund raiser for Nevada Democratic Senator Harry Reid.    

The Las Vegas fundraiser wasn’t the routine chicken and a handshake event.  The sold-out party of 4,000 at the Colosseum listened to about 15-minutes of Obama speaking about and touting the accomplishments of Reid and his support for issues “that matter not just to Democrats but to middle-class families all across America.” 

Obama didn’t mention anything about the local controversy over his remarks earlier this year condemning lavish Las Vegas junkets by corporations getting federal bailout funds, but did praise Caesars Palace where he spent the night in a lavish 22,000-square-foot suite in the Forum Tower, the first time a sitting president has stayed at Caesars.

In fact, for those that had long hoped to hear some substantial “magic” words from Obama during his visit to help boost the Las Vegas and Nevada economy from the doldrums, they never came.   And while Goodman shared his disappointment from the visit, his prior demands appeared to soften and he expressed much more optimism than Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons, who said the President’s comments “were better than nothing, they were also next to nothing.  I thought he could have done more.”

Hopes and rhetoric were set aside as entertainment ensued with performances by Rita Rudner, Sheryl Crow and even Bette Midler will take to the stage for her milestone 100th performance. 

During it all, about 100 peaceful protestors gathered outside in front of Caesars Palace, chanting “Heave ho!” waiving flags and carrying signs protesting against Harry Reid, criticizing his “tax-and-spend,” “big government” ways.

Today, President Obama will give a federal stimulus package and solar energy speech that primarily will highlights job-creating solar and geothermal energy projects.

Will the Las Vegas crowd expect the President to stand on stage and apologize for his February comments anytime soon?  Not many – if any – are predicted to look for a retraction or softening of his words.  The unfortunate reference cost Vegas in the short run but in a city that plays all the angles, this visit by Barack Obama is guaranteed to become a showman’s golden opportunity.  

So it was lights, cameras and You Tube at Caesar’s Palace with the city of Las Vegas betting on, but not receiving, a Presidential image upgrade, all the while pouring $2 million into Reid’s 2010 campaign coffers.

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