• BUMPY RIDE FOR LOCALS: Next week, a cycling test event will take place in Athens, sending international-class athletes along a route that Olympians will use next year. The occasion will probably be highly photographed, in part because the cyclists will speed by both the Acropolis and the Parthenon.
That makes contributor Daniel Howden all the more puzzled by the way Greek officials have handled the preparation of the course. "They've repaved the right side of the road, where the cyclists will ride, but not the left," Daniel says. "The old side is filled with potholes, and that's what Athenians will have to drive on. It seems that's what they could do with the time and money available."
• GATED COMMUNITY: The impact of the barrier Israel is constructing will depend a lot on how easily Palestinians can use the access gates within it, says the Monitor's Nicole Gaouette. "Palestinians don't have much trust that the gates will be built as promised, and were very wary of the guards manning them. At the end of one reporting day, I got a firsthand understanding of why. I stopped to take a photo of the barrier when four guards hoisting their guns approached me and two colleagues."
The guards detained the group for about 20 minutes, eventually letting them proceed. But it was not a comfortable encounter. "I can understand how frightening it would be if you were Palestinian, without a foreign passport, a cellphone, or chance of legal redress."
Deputy world editor