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Nation in brief

First integrated Vegas casino burns down

By Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published May 30, 2003

LAS VEGAS - A historic casino that was once the only integrated gambling spot in Las Vegas and played host to stars such as Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra and Nat "King" Cole was destroyed by fire Thursday.

Three people were injured and about 100 others were evacuated from apartments in what were once the Moulin Rouge casino's hotel rooms. The apartments were separate from the casino and didn't burn. The injured, two residents and a firefighter, were treated at a hospital and released.

The Moulin Rouge, about a mile northwest of the downtown casino district, opened in 1955 as the only integrated casino in Nevada. It closed after only six months, but in 1960, city and gambling leaders met there to officially desegregate the Las Vegas Strip.

"This is a big loss for Nevada and for the African-American culture," said Dale Scott, chief executive of the Moulin Rouge Development Corp.

The building was gutted. The fire's cause is under investigation.

La. officials end search for body under concrete slab

JACKSON, La. - Investigators dug up a concrete slab Thursday in an unsuccessful attempt to find the body of a missing woman at a house once occupied by a man suspected in the serial killings of five women.

The dig was called off after nothing was found.

Investigators were looking for the body of Randi Mebruer, who disappeared in 1998. Authorities said they got a tip about the slab after Derrick Todd Lee was named as a suspect in the killings.

Lee, 34, faces murder and rape charges involving five women in Baton Rouge and Lafayette, and attempted murder and attempted rape counts involving a sixth woman in St. Martin Parish. None of the charges involve Mebruer's disappearance.

Lee was arrested Tuesday and is being held without bail.

A one-time neighbor of Lee's told investigators that the concrete slab was poured in the middle of the night about the time Mebruer disappeared, authorities said.

Investigators uncovered a 4-inch bone fragment Thursday night, but authorities said it was from an animal.

The search came as police across southern Louisiana reviewed cases to see if Lee can be linked to other unsolved murders, disappearances and attacks. In at least a half dozen parishes, investigators are reviewing a timeline of Lee's travels or sending evidence to the State Police crime lab.

Foam shot at wing loosens shuttle seal

CAPE CANAVERAL - Foam shot at a fiberglass mockup of a space shuttle wing knocked loose a seal Thursday, providing evidence for accident investigators who suspect Columbia was damaged by a debris strike.

A spokesman for the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, Air Force Lt. Col. Woody Woodyard, described Thursday's result as "significant."

Woodyard said more foam-impact tests are planned. "We've got to analyze the data and evaluate all the data before we can draw any conclusions," he said.

N.H. becomes 50th state to regulate abortions

New Hampshire, which until now was the only state without any abortion regulations, Thursday passed legislation requiring minors to notify a parent or guardian before undergoing the procedure.

Gov. Craig Benson said he would sign the bill.

"We ask children to get their parents' permission to get their ears pierced, to take an aspirin at school," Benson said. "I think this law finally puts all parental notification on the same footing."

The bill, which takes effect Dec. 31, requires minors to notify a parent 48 hours before getting an abortion or, as an alternative, get permission from a judge. It doesn't give parents or judges veto power.

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