Backlash
March 24, 2014

Sharp criticism from media and civil rights groups over an explicitly racist plot has led ABC Family to drop its new teen drama, Alice in Arabia, before it has a chance to air.

Here's how the network billed the show:

Alice in Arabia is a high-stakes drama series about a rebellious American teenage girl who, after tragedy befalls her parents, is unknowingly kidnapped by her extended family, who are Saudi Arabian. Alice finds herself a stranger in a new world but is intrigued by its offerings and people, whom she finds surprisingly diverse in their views on the world and her situation. Now a virtual prisoner in her grandfather's royal compound, Alice must count on her independent spirit and wit to find a way to return home while surviving life behind the veil. [Deadline]

As Katie McDonough at Salon notes, this description alone promotes "tired racist tropes about Arab and Muslim cultures and its 'white savior'-driven plot." Rather than casting women of color in a primetime drama, ABC created a heroine in a white woman who struggles to "survive" life in another culture.

After the script for Alice in Arabia's pilot leaked online, the Council on American-Islamic Relations expressed disapproval with the series, and Twitter users employed the hashtag #AliceinArabia to further urge ABC to pull the show. ABC Family responded in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, confirming the network would "not move forward with this project."

Canceling Alice in Arabia was unquestionably a good movie for ABC's image. And really, how many Alice in Wonderland-inspired shows does ABC need? Meghan DeMaria

ISIS Crisis
1:09 p.m. ET
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter on Sunday faulted Iraqi troops for allowing the Islamic State to conquer Ramadi, saying the homegrown forces lacked the "will to fight."

"What apparently happened is the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight," Carter said in an appearance on CNN. "They were not outnumbered. In fact, they vastly outnumbered the opposing force. That says to me, and I think to most of us, that we have an issue with the will of the Iraqis to fight ISIL and defend themselves."

Last weekend, ISIS captured Ramadi as Iraqi troops fled and left behind weapons provided by the U.S. Days later, ISIS overran the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra as well. Jon Terbush

This just in
11:04 a.m. ET
Ricky Rhodes / Getty Images

Cleveland police over the weekend arrested 71 people who participated in largely peaceful protests following the acquittal of a police officer in the 2012 killing of two unarmed black people.

Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said protesters became more "aggressive" throughout the day, adding that officers only intervened when they "became violent and…refused to disperse."

On Saturday a judge acquitted officer Michael Brelo over a 2012 incident in which police, after mistaking the sound of a car backfiring for gunshots, fired 137 rounds into a vehicle, killing both occupants. Brelo climbed onto the car's hood and fired 15 times through the windshield, though the judge ruled prosecutors did not prove those shots killed the couple. Jon Terbush

This just in
10:31 a.m. ET
China Photos / Getty Images

John Nash, the famed Nobel Prize-winning mathematician who inspired the film A Beautiful Mind, died Saturday in a taxi crash on the New Jersey Turnpike. The 86-year-old Nash and his wife, Alicia, were both killed when the driver of their taxi lost control and slammed into a guardrail. Police said they believe neither Nash nor his wife, who were ejected from the vehicle, were wearing seatbelts at the time of the accident. Known for his work in game theory, Nash won the Nobel Prize for economics in 1994. Jon Terbush

Texas Flood
10:16 a.m. ET
Jazz Bishop / Corbis

At least one person died and dozens of states of emergency were declared following widespread flooding across Oklahoma and Texas over the weekend. A firefighter in Claremore, Oklahoma, died while trying to rescue a colleague who became trapped in a storm drain, though the trapped firefighter was able to make it out safely. Flooding in the region forced more than 1,000 evacuations, with officials warning that even more rain on Sunday could trigger potentially "historic" flooding. Jon Terbush

WomenCrossDMZ
9:09 a.m. ET
Chung Sung-Jun / Getty Images

An international coalition of female activists led by feminist Gloria Steinem on Sunday crossed the highly militarized border between North and South Korea in an effort to spotlight the need for reconciliation between the two nations. The group, WomenCrossDMZ, consisted of about 30 participants including Steinem and two Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Mairead Maguire and Leymah Gbowee. "We feel very celebratory and positive that we have created a voyage across the DMZ in peace and reconciliation that was said to be impossible," Steinem said. Jon Terbush

Foreign affairs
8:10 a.m. ET
GORAN TOMASEVIC / Reuters / Corbis

The leader of Burundi's opposition party on Saturday was gunned down in a drive-by shooting in the capital of Bujumbura. Zedi Feruzi, the leader of the party Union for Peace and Development-Zigamibanga, and a bodyguard were shot dead by unidentified gunmen just one day after a grenade attack killed at least two civilians in the same city. Burundi has been rocked by unrest — including a failed coup — for weeks since President Pierre Nkurunziza said he would run for a third term. Jon Terbush

Oops
May 23, 2015
Stefan Rousseau - WPA Pool/Getty Images

The Bank of England apparently needs a refresher on how to keep a classified project…classified.

An editor for The Guardian received an email on Friday, accidentally forwarded by the Bank's head of press, which details plans to research the financial repercussions of a British exit from the European Union. Nicknamed Project Bookend, the not-so-secret work was meant to be carried out by just a few senior officials, and examine how a "Brexit" would affect the country's export's and major cities' economies.

The email noted that any questions from the press should be answered by saying that "there is a lot going on in Europe in the next couple of months…that would be of concern to the Bank."

A note to the Bank's staff on the project: Take a good, long look at the "CC" field before you send any of Project Bookend's results. Also, consider a better name than Project Bookend. Sarah Eberspacher

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