• A Javanese Outlook: Correspondent Tom McCawley went to Java to report on the postquake rebuilding with images of the Aceh tsunami in December 2004 dancing in his head. But many villagers on the island of Java were laughing as they stacked their bricks and rebuilt their houses. "It's a very different atmosphere from Aceh, which left a lot of reporters pretty shaken," he says.
The difference may be partly cultural, says Tom. Javanese villagers have been facing plagues, famines, and volcanic eruptions together for centuries. "The communal Gotong Royong system they have is like Amish barn-raising; everyone in the village pitches in. The rice harvest is a very communal event," he says.
And, Tom allows that "the death toll in Aceh was much greater."
• Who Farmers Worship: While reporting on India's farm system, staff writer Scott Baldauf and photographer Andy Nelson drove many miles through the villages of Andhra Pradesh. "We saw religious shrines set up in honor of Hindu deities. But our guide, M.K. Madhav of the Byrraju Foundation, pointed out one rather odd statue of a man on a horse: Sir Arthur Cotton."
Cotton was the British administrator of this district, and he saw the agricultural potential of the Godaveri River delta. In the 1880s he authorized the construction of hundreds of miles of irrigation canals to take river water to the parched plains nearby. "The desert bloomed ... 'The people worship him like a god,' Mr. Madhav told us," says Scott.
David Clark Scott