• A Bleak Return: Just over a year ago, correspondent Nicole Itano visited the mountain villages in Greece's Peloponnesian peninsula on vacation. "They were one of the most beautiful parts of Greece," she says. So when she returned this week to report on the spate of forest fires that have devastated the region (see story), she was shocked. "Last time I was there, the cafes were full of tourists," she says. "Now, even the villages that weren't burned were like ghost towns." The areas that had been burned were worse.
"It looked like the moon – everything was charred," she says. But Nicole spoke to several people who managed to protect their property with whatever tools they had. "In some places, everything was burned except for a single olive grove or a house. People had obviously risked their lives to try to save them."
• Desert Wanderers: On her way to interview Sudanese refugees at the Ketziot Prison in Israel (see story), staff writer Ilene R. Prusher drove past a group of 30 Sudanese men walking along a barren strip of road through the desert. Later, she discovered that the men had just arrived in Israel hours earlier and couldn't find a place to stay.
The Israeli police noticed the group and took them to the nearby Ketziot Prison. But there was no room, so officials let them go. Later, the Israeli army picked up the men and took them to a hostel in Beersheva. Some eventually got taken back to the prison and some went to Tel Aviv, where they have found a host of places to stay, including hostels, churches, and small apartments they're renting out with the help of different NGOs, Ilene says.
"On the official level, no one is entirely sure whose responsibility these refugees are: that of the police, the army, the prison system, the ministry of interior," says Ilene. In the interim, social activists seem to be the ones stepping in to help.
– Tom A. Peter