Only in America
December 1, 2013

A minority student group at the University of California, Los Angeles, is accusing a professor of racism for correcting grammar and punctuation in minority students' assignments. The group, Students of Color, says "the grammar 'lessons'" are acts of "micro-aggression" that have created "a hostile class climate." Professor Val Rust said he was just trying to help students, but conceded they "don't feel that is appropriate." The Week Staff

security breach
11:16 p.m. ET
Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

A hacker who gained access to the servers of Hong Kong electronic toymaker VTech obtained more than just the email addresses, passwords, and home addresses of nearly 5 million adults — he or she also found tens of thousands of photos of children.

"Frankly, it makes me sick I was able to get all this stuff," the hacker, who asked to remain anonymous, told Motherboard's Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai. "VTech should have the book thrown at them." The hacker said some of the data came from VTech's Kid Connect service, which lets parents using an app on their smart phones chat with their kids on a VTech tablet. The hacker found thousands of pictures used as avatars on the app, chat messages between parents and their kids, and audio files. "I have the personal information of the parent and the profile pictures, emails, [Kid Connect] passwords, nicknames... of everyone in their Kid Connect contacts list," the hacker said.

The hacker said he will not sell or publish any of the data he obtained. VTech said in a statement that "as an additional precautionary measure," it was suspending several of its websites, including its app store, Learning Lodge. Catherine Garcia

war of words
10:26 p.m. ET
Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images

In Paris on Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Turkey of shooting down a Russian warplane near its border with Syria because the country is involved in oil trade with the Islamic State.

"We have every reason to think that the decision to shoot down our plane was dictated by the desire to protect the oil supply lines to Turkish territory," Putin said. ISIS brings in millions of dollars a month by selling oil illegally, and Putin said he had information that shows ISIS oil is passing through Turkish territory, the BBC reports. Turkey, which is part of the U.S.-led coalition carrying out airstrikes against ISIS, denies having ties to the group.

Turkey says the Russian jet entered its airspace Nov. 24, while Russia insists it didn't; one pilot was killed and the other rescued. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called the incident "unfortunate," but said because the country was defending itself, Turkey has no reason to apologize to Russia. On Monday, Russia said it planned to ban imports of fruits, vegetables, and agricultural products from Turkey, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan responded by saying his country would act "patiently, not emotionally" before addressing the sanctions. Catherine Garcia

hold your breath
9:18 p.m. ET

While world leaders discussed climate change and air pollution in Paris on Monday, residents of Beijing were breathing in thick smog and encouraged by the government to stay indoors.

Beijing saw its worst air pollution for 2015 Monday, with extremely hazardous levels of pollutants detected around the city; in one suburb, particle readings hit 976 micrograms per cubic meter — more than 900 micrograms higher than the safe level. China is the world's biggest carbon polluter, with two-thirds of the country's energy coming from coal. On days like Monday, the government limits activities at construction sites and factories, and increases street cleaning, CBS News reports. The government blamed the intense smog on high humidity and a lack of wind. Catherine Garcia

out on bail
8:27 p.m. ET
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Jason Van Dyke, the Chicago police officer charged with the first-degree murder of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in October 2014, was released on $1.5 million bond Monday.

Van Dyke was arrested Nov. 24, more than a year after he allegedly shot McDonald 16 times and just hours before dash cam footage was released showing the shooting. Reporters on the scene said Van Dyke didn't say a word as he left the Cook County jail, but on Twitter, people upset over his release didn't mince words. "Jason Van Dyke release on bond today," Chance the Rapper tweeted. "He murdered a boy." Catherine Garcia

baby grace
7:54 p.m. ET

Authorities in Los Angeles County say if two women hadn't heard the muffled cries of a baby abandoned on a bike path in Compton on Friday afternoon, the newborn would not have survived.

The women notified the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, and Deputies Adam Collette and David Perry came to investigate. Collette heard noises coming from a crevice, and quickly started lifting up pieces of asphalt with Perry. There, about a foot down, was a newborn of three or four days old wrapped in a hospital blanket. "The cry that I heard, as a father, was more of a cry for help, I'm hungry, but not like an I'm injured and hurt," Collette said Monday during a press conference. "I knew what I was hearing, but I didn't believe it."

The baby was cold to the touch, and rushed to a hospital; she's still there under observation, but is doing well. The baby is known as Jane Doe, but detectives on her case have taken to calling her "Baby Grace," the Los Angeles Times reports. They would like to speak with the newborn's mother, and encourage her to come forward. "We're also worried for her well being," Det. Jennifer Valenzuela of the Special Victim's Bureau said. The baby has black hair, and could be of Hispanic or African-American descent. California has a safe-surrender law, which lets parents drop babies off at hospitals and fire stations within 72 hours of their birth without criminal liability. The baby — the fourth abandoned in Los Angeles County so far this year — will eventually be adopted. Catherine Garcia

a whole lot of shaking going on
7:01 p.m. ET
David McNew/Getty Images

In north-central Oklahoma, residents were left shaken Monday after at least seven earthquakes hit, including one jolt that was felt 300 miles away in Iowa.

Scientists say there is a link between the increase in earthquakes in Oklahoma — there were just a few dozen quakes magnitude 3.0 or above in 2012 compared to more than 720 so far this year — and oil and gas activity; several earthquakes are rattling areas where injection wells are pumping wastewater into the earth, The Associated Press reports. State regulators have asked disposal well operators to shut down their wells or have them reduce their volume, but State Rep. Cory Williams (D-Stillwater) said enough isn't being done to slow down the earthquakes. "The problem is we're being totally reactionary as opposed to proactive," Williams told AP. "We wait for a seismic event, and then we react to it, which is an abysmal policy for handling something that can cause catastrophic damage to property and/or life."

Williams said the oil and gas lobby is powerful in Oklahoma, keeping policymakers from regulating the industry, and in 2014, Gov. Mary Fallin (R) signed into law a bill that states cities and towns can no longer regulate oil and gas operations within their boundaries. Chad Warmington of the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association says if operations are shut down "it would be devastating. The goal is to be able to reduce earthquakes and still be able to produce." Catherine Garcia

a hairy situation
5:35 p.m. ET

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) had a productive post-Thanksgiving Monday, formally inviting President Obama to deliver his final State of the Union address Jan. 12. Afterward, he kicked back a little bit — by shamelessly showing off his beard on Twitter.

If you're wondering just how long it's been, the House archives has an answer: Ryan is apparently the first bearded speaker since Frederick Huntington Gillett, who served in the role until 1931.

But wait, you're probably craving even more House speaker facial hair history now. Never fear:

Perhaps Ryan will be inspired to rock a mustache. Julie Kliegman

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