*Hate crimes in America are on the rise according to new figures released by the FBI this week, with African Americans and religious groups the main victims.
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Washington bureau director Hilary Shelton claimed the 8 per cent rise in anti-black hate crimes is the result of Obama's election and the recession. The total number of hate crimes rose 2 per cent in 2008 to 7,783 said USA Today.
*Three men from Tongzhou, China, are facing five years in prison for assaulting a man because his hair resembled David Beckham's. A court heard how the victim was beaten, bottled and dunked in a river to ruin his "arrogant" hair according to China Daily.
*Noisy Swedish lovers were granted reprieve by a judge this week when he ruled in their favour at an eviction hearing. The couple were blamed for keeping an entire apartment block awake with their incessant lovemaking, said einnews.com. But the judge decided it was impossible to know which flat had caused the commotion. A neighbour claimed to be able to hear them three floors away.
*A troupe of 29 baboons has terrorised Cape Town's tourists, breaking into four cars in search of food. The pernicious primates have learned to open doors and jump through windows according to the Johannesburg Mail and Guardian. City officials have warned the influx of tourists expected for next year's football World Cup could lead to a spike in monkey-related crime. They estimate there are 420 baboons in 17 troupes roaming the city's outskirts.
*Three children's daycare centres were raided in one of Canada's largest co-ordinated fraud busts of recent years, reported the Globe and Mail. "Operation Devance" saw more than 400 police officers sweep Quebec and Ontario to arrest 29 people in a fake document ring. The "false document labs" were allegedly involved in creating fake passports.
*California's bristlecone pines have broken a 4,650-year growth record. The alpine trees can reach ages of up to 5,000 years in the state's White Mountains and a recent study of their ring radii found them growing faster now than at any time since 2650BC, said Scientific American. Researchers also believe the trees, which can survive at altitudes of up to 3,470m, may be shifting to higher climes as the climate warms. If confirmed, they would join a lengthening list of species such as Pacific salmon.
*Indian pilgrimage centres are becoming hubs for sex tourism, according to two reports. One NGO's study found increasing incidents of child abuse at pilgrim sites, said The Times of India. Another, commissioned by the Indian Ministry for Women and Child Development and looking at places of interest for tourists, found a growing sex trade at pilgrim centres. It said domestic tourists were overwhelmingly involved with commercial sex workers while foreign tourists were engaged in paedophilia.