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Macau leapfrogs Switzerland

Well, let's be honest, this was probably a long time coming. Today news broke that Macau has overtaken Switzerland in the wealth stakes and has been named the world's 4th richest territory by the World Bank. Ever increasing numbers of tourists and gamblers from the Mainland helped drive GDP per capita up by 18% in 2013 to £53,227. Macau is the world's top spot for the gambling industry, reporting a staggering $45 billion in gambling revenues last year -- nearly seven times the $6.5 billion that casinos in Las Vegas made during the same period. That said, there have been recent dips in gambling revenues attributed to punters opting to use online sports betting sites to bet on World Cup results rather than gambling in the casinos. In addition to that, Macau was further hit by an American-led anti-corruption investigation which after a major crackdown last month resulted in the outing of an international gambling ring that was running a $600 billion illegal World Cup betting operation out of a Macau-based hotel. Is anyone actually surprised by this?
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@ryantadman I know - it's an incomprehensible amount of money; It's more than twice the GDP of Hong Kong.
$600 billion? Think of what else the world could do with that amount of money.
That said, the cost of living is still substantially higher in Switzerland than Macau, right? I mean I live in Geneva and it's painful...
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Confession: I'm Addicted To Trying Strange Asian Foods.
Hi, my name is Dani, and I'm a foodie - but only when it comes to all things weird. As those of you who participate in my weekly So Good Or No Good food game, I'm always interested in talking about gross food combinations and dishes that, well, require a certain kind of palette. I thought it might be fun to create a list of strange international foods I've tried that maybe other people wouldn't be into - some left me wanting seconds, and well, others definitely had me running to the bathroom. Have you tried any of these? Century Eggs (China) Century eggs - also known as pidan - get their name because they are soaked and preserved for long periods of times (traditionally, several months) before they're eaten. What normally looks like a regular white and yellow boiled egg turns into translucent black with a consistency kind of like Jell-O. I thought these were surprisingly delicious. Once you get over the fact that the eggs are black and have a different smell than a normal hard-boiled egg, you'll find that it's still really tasty! Pork Dinuguan (Philippines) Dinuguan looks like a pretty unassuming stew with a color is reminiscent of a Mexican mole sauce, but the taste couldn't be any more different. It's made with anything from standard pork to more questionable parts like the lungs, kidneys, intestines, ears, heart, or snout, and it's all simmered in pig blood. As far as this one's concerned, I was able to make it through a few bites, but the texture and the heavy iron-flavor of the jellied pig blood sauce really grossed me out. (However, my Filipino friends insist this can be SUPER delicious, so I'm waiting for their moms to make me some!) Yukhoe (South Korea) There's really not much to explain when it comes to yukhoe. It's ground raw beef served with raw egg and a variety of seasonings. Sometimes it's served as you see in the picture above, and other times, it's over rice with an assortment of vegetables as 'yukhoe bibimbap'. Yukhoe is actually really delicious! First, I was scared because there's so much 'NOPE!' here, but yukhoe is served cold, so the beef flavor is mild. Also, the seasoning does a good job of keeping you from feeling like you're shoveling raw hamburger meat in your mouth. (Make sure you're ordering yukhoe at a reputable place so you don't get sick!) Natto (Japan) Natto is a fermented soybean dish that is traditionally served at breakfast. With a stringy consistency and a strong odor, it's known to be an acquired taste - even within Japan! Natto is often served plain, but you can also see it rolled up onigiri-style. I couldn't get past the first bite or two plain, but I will say that eating it with soy sauce and mustard (which is often provided when you order natto), definitely helps you get it down. Yeah, this was a once-and-never-again dish for me. Zhū ěr duo (China) Zhū ěr duo is a popular Chinese appetizer of sliced braised pig ear, commonly served both hot or cold. The outer skin is chewy and soft, while the strip of cartilage has a crunch that might be unfamiliar to people trying it for the first time. Personally, I felt like the texture took me a bite or two to get used to, but once I had, I actually found pig ear to be pretty good! I don't know if I could eat a whole lot of this, but it's really nice as an appetizer. Dalkbal (South Korea) Dalkbal is a dish popularly served as something of a pub snack in South Korea. It's chicken feet prepared in a spicy sauce of red pepper paste and sesame oil. Overall, it's light and meaty, but definitely has plenty of crunchy cartilage inside. Dalkbal is super spicy! I don't think I realized I was such a heat wimp until I tried it for the first time. The cartilage gets in the way of it being anything close to filling, but it's a great snack, especially for you beer and hot wings types. So now I want to know about the unusual foods YOU'VE tried. Share your own stories! Is there a food in your family's culture that a lot of people outside of it wouldn't be into? Are there strange foods you were scared to try, but actually liked eating a lot? Let us know in the comments below!
China Prepares For Heavy Smog By Buying Lots Of Condoms.
It's no new news that China has a horrible air quality problem, and it's only been getting worse. Earlier this month, Beijing, the nation's capital, was issued its first-ever 'red alert', a severe government warning that encourages citizens to stay indoors as much as possible and to use extreme caution when having to go outside is necessary. Normally, this causes a surge in online sales. With families no longer being able to go outside, commerce shifts from shopping malls to computer screens, with residents buying anything from first aid supplies to sportswear, so they can catch up on some exercise once the air clears up. Oh, yeah. And they're also buying condoms. Uncommon amounts of them, in fact. According to Taobao.com, a national Amazon equivalent, the gap between condoms purchased in smog-heavy cities versus ones with clearer air widened considerably during the first couple weeks of December. It even got to a point where, by December 10, the number of condoms sold each day was consistently surpassing the number of air purifiers and masks. (You know, those things they probably need to help them breathe?!) The website concludes the surge in condom sales comes with a good explanation: "People have greater concerns of good child bearing [in air-polluted cities] and try to prevent getting pregnant on smoggy days." You can draw your own conclusions as to why Beijing has been getting (safely) down a lot more in the past few weeks, or if you're a completely immature human being like myself, you can tell everyone this story and follow it up with an "Air pollution and chill?" Let me know why YOU think, and for more WTF news, follow my WTF Street Journal collection.
Powerful quake kills hundreds in Turkey and Syria
What we're covering More than 600 people have been killed and thousands of others injured in Turkey and Syria after a powerful magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit southern Turkey early Monday. The quake, one of the strongest to hit the region in more than 100 years, struck 23 kilometers (14.2 miles) east of Nurdagi, Gaziantep province, at a depth of 24.1 kilometers (14.9 miles), the US Geological Survey said. Multiple strong aftershocks have been felt across the region, including as far away as Lebanon and Israel. Turkey's disaster agency appealed for help from the international community as it conducts search and rescue operations. Political leaders react to deadly earthquake A chorus of global leaders have sent messages of solidarity after a powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake ripped through Turkey early Monday, killing at least 670 people across Turkey and neighboring Syria. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance is in "full solidarity" with Turkey. "Full solidarity with our Ally #Türkiye in the aftermath of this terrible earthquake. I am in touch with President @RTErdogan and Foreign Minister @MevlutCavusoglu, and #NATO Allies are mobilizing support now," he said in a tweet Monday. European Union top diplomat Josep Borrell said the bloc is "ready to help," after Monday's quake. "Devastating earthquake rocked Türkiye and Syria this morning, claiming the lives of hundreds of people and injuring many more. Our thoughts are with the people of Türkiye and Syria. The EU is ready to help," Borrell said. The President of the European Council Charles Michel sent his "deepest condolences" to the victims of the disaster. "Deeply saddened to hear this morning about the devastating earthquake hitting parts of Türkiye and Syria. My deepest condolences to the many families that lost lives and wishing a fast recovery of the injured. The EU stands in full solidarity with you," he tweeted Monday. The President of the EU Commission Ursula von der Leyen said support from Europe "is already on the way." "We stand in full solidarity with the people of Türkiye and Syria after the deadly earthquake that hit this morning. We mourn with the families of the victims. Europe’s support is already on the way and we stand ready to continue helping in any way we can," she said in a tweet Monday. Death toll from earthquake surpasses 600  At least 670 people have been reported dead in Turkey and Syria after Monday's huge 7.8 magnitude earthquake. In Syria, at least 386 people have died, including 239 mostly in the regions of Aleppo, Hama, Latakia and Tartus, Syrian state TV reported.  The "White Helmets" group, officially known as the Syria Civil Defense, also reported at least 147 deaths in opposition-controlled areas of northwestern Syria. Hundreds more people were also injured following the earthquake, with 648 wounded in Aleppo, Hama, Latakia and Tartus, Syrian state TV reported. Another 340 injuries were also reported in opposition-controlled areas, White Helmets added.  In Turkey, at least 284 people have died and more than 2,323 people have been injured, Turkey's Vice President Fuat Oktay said earlier.  Azerbaijan to send search and rescue team to Turkey  Azerbaijan will send a search and rescue team of 370 people and aid material to Turkey following the powerful earthquake that struck the south of the country on Monday morning, Turkey's state-run news agency Anadolu reported.  A plane carrying aid, including tents and medical supplies, will depart for Turkey "in a short time," Anadolu said.  The Netherlands earlier said it will send a search and rescue team to Turkey after the country's disaster agency asked the international community for help.
China Bans Funeral Strippers
The Chinese government is in the news this week as the country's ministry of culture announces that they will "crack down on 'stripping' and other acts of illegal business performance market". The statement was released after controversial videos were circulated featuring paid strippers disrobing in front of parents and children at a Handan funeral - resulting in arrests and a $11,300 fine. (I know. This is a lot to process.) Apparently, funeral strippers have turned into quite a trend in both China and Taiwan, as the region's bereaved have been shelling out some serious cash to pay for strip shows that can go as long as two-and-a-half hours. According to Everett Zhang, assistant professor of East Asian Studies at Princeton University, funerals in the area are treated like one lavish party, celebrating with as many people as possible to ensure that their loved one is sent off properly to the afterlife. "In China, when the person who dies is very old and has lived a long life, this kind of occasion becomes purely a celebration." But why strippers?! According to China's official Xinhua news agency, strippers are hired "to attract more mourners," adding that these racy performances "add to the fun". Blame it on cultural difference, but I can see why something like this would deserve to be shut down. However, while Zhang sees where this situation could be problematic, he's particularly surprised at the bold measures the government is taking to put an end to it. "Local people would not be happy about the arrests. That would be really intrusive and offensive." So what do you think? Should the Chinese government be allowed to arrest and fine the bereaved hiring funeral strippers, or should it be left to the family's discretion? Let me know in the comments below, and for more WTF news, follow my WTF Street Journal collection.