Asia overtakes Europe as biggest producer of beer

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Asian beer manufacturers produced 103 billion pints of beer in 2009, marking an increase of 5.5 per cent compared to the previous year.

At the same time, European beer companies experienced a production drop of 5.1 per cent to 97 billion pints during the same period, according to a study by the research department of Kirin Holdings Co, the Japanese beer giant.

Defying cultural stereotypes of beer-swilling Europeans, it is the first time that Asia has assumed the top spot in the world’s beer producing since annual records began in 1974 by the Kirin Institute of Food and Lifestyle.

Vietnam fuelled the surge in Asian beer production, with an increase of more than 24 per cent in beer manufacturing over 2009, according to the report.

India followed closely behind with an increase of 12 per cent, while China’s beer manufacturers also collectively increased seven per cent over the past year.

With the average Asian still consuming less beer than his or her European counterpart, there was still further scope for Asia to continue growing, according to Kyodo News.

”There is more room for further growth in Asia down the track because Asians’ per capita consumption is relatively small,” the report read.

Japan, however, did not contribute to the surge in beer production in Asia, instead experiencing a two per cent drop in production levels during the same period.

The figures reflect a long-running trend: the nation’s home beer market has shrunk by more than 15 per cent in volume terms over the past decade.

The continued decline in Japan’s beer industry has prompted breweries to increasingly invest outside the country.

Asahi Breweries, ranked the world’s 12th-largest beer maker, recently announced plans to keep 785 billion yen (£5.8billion) on tap for potential investments outside Japan over the next five years.

Vietnam, however, is enjoying a steady increase in the popularity of its beers, with its popular labels Hanoi Beer and Saigon Beer recently chosen to be the official beverages at this year’s Berlin International Beer Festival.

‘Body on Google Street View’ scare caused by girl playing

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Worried residents spotted the ‘corpse’ lying by a red car as they browsed pictures of Middle Road, in Worcester.

But rather than being a crime scene, the images turned out to just be a youngster playing around with a friend outside her home.

One resident, who did not wish to be named, confirmed the girl pictured lying on the floor was playing with her nine-year-old daughter at the time.

She said: “When we heard about the Street View images we had a look at our street and thought it was really cool.

“Then we noticed the girl lying on the ground which looks a bit strange but thankfully we knew it wasnt anything suspicious.”

Another local, Paul Potter, 29, said: “I think its hilarious that people were a concerned at the image, I’m glad the mystery has been solved now.

“I find it quite amusing that all the concern was over a girl playing around with mates. You wonder whether people have anything better to do then worry over silly things like this.”

The family of the young girl could not immediately be contacted.

Googles cars, fitted with a special panoramic camera on the roof, were spotted out and about in Worcester last summer and the images were put on to the internet in March this year.

A spokesman for Google said they cannot comment on individual images but explained how people can remove pictures which they are not happy with.

She said: “The imagery in Street View represents a snapshot in time of Britains streets and is no different to what anyone might expect to see for themselves around the country.

“Sometimes that means our cars inadvertently capture odd or inappropriate moments as they drive past.

“This is why we have put in place tools so that if people see what they believe to be inappropriate, they can report them to us using the simple reporting tool and the images will be quickly removed or further blurring applied.”

JetBlue’s Steven Slater says fame is ‘kinda neat’ as airline admits ‘entire internet’ is obsessed with story

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The flight attendant has attracted millions of online fans on the web after his dramatic behaviour.

The American launched a foul-mouthed tirade on the plane’s PA system before deploying the emergency chute, grabbing a beer and jumping out on to the JFK Airport runway, shouting “That’s it, I’ve had it.”

He was later arrested and charged with reckless endangerment, criminal mischief and trespassing, and faces up to seven years in jail if convicted.

He pleaded not guilty at court in New York on Tuesday before being granted bail of $2,500 (£1,500.)

After posting bail, he told reporters: “It seems like something here has resonated with a few people. And that’s kinda neat.”

Slater has become an internet phenomenon since the story broke earlier this month.

On Wednesday JetBlue admitted on its blog that “like, the entire internet” had an opinion on his case.

“The reason we’re not commenting is that we respect the privacy of the individual. People can speak on their own behalf; we won’t do it for them,” the post continued.

Slater has consistently ranked as one of the most popular topics on Twitter and a number of Facebook pages have sprung up, with titles such as “Free Steven Slater” and “I Support Steven Slater.”

One group, dubbed the “Steven Slater Legal Defense Fund,” is seeking to raise money for the airline veteran.

More than 650 people are members of the group, which was founded by Gary Baumgardner, a pilot who pledges transparency in donating all the collections to Slater.

“Free Steven Slater” T-shirts and luggage tags reading “Steve Slater: An American hero” and are also being sold online.

And songs about him have even been posted on YouTube and Jimmy Fallon performed “The Ballad of Steven Slater” on his Late Night programme on Wednesday.