compiled by Dee Finney

12-20-05 - 2:30 a.m. DREAM

I was given this warning to post on my main page on my website:



I went to work on my computer and someone else was in process of rebooting it so I could work on it right away.

I looked out the window and saw my husband standing on top of a blackened tree stump on the side of the hill we lived on.  It seemed like the whole earth was vibrating.

I yelled out the window to him, "Is it shifting?"

He hesitated before answering, like he was listening for something, then answered, "No! I don't think so."

I said, "It seemed like it was vibrating yesterday."

He continued standing on the tree stump and listening intently to anything that he might hear.

I called all the children in for safekeeping. One of the older girls came running in, saying that she was 'very' afraid.

I told her not to worry, that everything would be okay, but inwardly, my biggest fear was that the earth beneath our feet was going to open up and we were all going to fall into the 'middle earth' beneath our feet.

In the children's room, a little Mexican boy was trying to listen to my 'world' radio (it has 7 bands on it) It was all static. 

I told him not to listen to the static because the frequencies were off, but he wouldn't stop listening, so I finally unplugged it and took it away from him and hid the radio from the children. 

I then had to go to the bank where a huge robbery was going on and alert everyone that it was taking place.

This bank was in a huge underground vault-like place. 

The robbery was already taking place, but not everyone there knew about it.

The robbers had their own guards standing around, dressed in sky blue long sleeved shirts with jeans.

I too dressed like them so I could pass through the gauntlet of guards.

I held a yellow colored check prominently out in front of me, and striding fast. I walked past one guard after another, along the side aisles of this underground bank. 

I overheard one guard say to another, "Is that Mythisis?" and another one said, "No! That's not Isis."

I made it all the way down to the other end of the cavernous room where I saw Bo - the police chief from 'One Life to Live' TV Show. He was standing there, tending a small flock of sheep.

He walked up to greet me and said, "Hi Dolores! "

Now I knew that everything was going to be okay!


> In the children's room, a little Mexican boy was trying to listen to my 'world' radio (it has 7 bands on it) It was all static.>

The following was taught to me by a Lakota/Cherokee Mix . .. so the words in Indian are of both origins ..the reason I'm sending this in connection to your dream is ... the story explains that we need to keep our 7 directions and by doing this or not doing this we have
a direct effect upon the weather .... I feel your dream and this story have a connection

In Loving Spirit

A Story of Etsi Elohino's Belt Skan (Great Spirit) created two belts in the galvloi (sky) which surround the Elohino (earth) at the areas known today as the tropics. The way the life of these belts is maintained is by several means.

Soqua (One) is the agas adohi (rain forest)s.
Another is the establishment and maintenance of our own 7 Directions.

Another way the belts are maintained is by the entities in the Wakan Tanka organization working together which are the resulting:

tornadoes (Wakinyan battling the Unktehi/Unkcegi monsters on the land),

blizzards (Waziah coming from the North),

hurricanes (the Unktehi/Unkcegi monsters battling on the water),

earthquakes (Maka),

floods (Maka and Unk)

and erupting volcanoes (Inyan ale Maka).

Each of these ways are connected to each other.

If we all begin to establish and maintain our 7 Directions, the weather patterns calm down and the belts regain their livelihood, as well.

So when we witness a storm, we are witnessing the Wakan Tanka entities at work maintaining the balance of nature, which is contentment.

Wakinyan has instructed us to atsila atsina(burn cedar) during the thunderstorms, as Wakinyan's lodge is in the west and is made of atsina (cedar), and atsina (cedar) is also cleansing.

Hence, when Wakinyan flies over our houses, he will view favorably the houses which atsila (burn) the cleansing atsina (cedar) and he will leave our homes alone as he continues on in his cleansing journey to that which does require his cleansing.

Everything has a frequency, and all life on Elohino forms a global frequency. Everything inside of us is connected to each other just as we are connected to everything around us.

So when we do not strive to establish and maintain our 7 Directions, we also cause storms to begin within us leading us to death and our frequencies become weak and dis-eased and filled with static.

This then weakens the global frequency of contentment.

The Hurt of One, is the Hurt of All.

Hence, how we strive for contentment within ourselves decides how nature will react accordingly.

For example, the actions of the western civilization and its accompanying progress is causing these belts to weaken.

One result of this is the deserts.

Should we as a global society become entirely addictive and dualistic, the Wakan Tanka entities will restore the balance of Nature by assisting the Etsi Elohino in cleansing herself.

Thus, we affect the weather.

Submitted by Michelle



Australia's worst drought on record - Sydney announces unprecedented water restrictions
Wed, 1 Jun 2005 

If you were thinking unusual weather has been occurring in your area, you were right.
A series of record breaking weather has hit just about every continent on the Earth.

Australia's Largest City Tightens Water Restrictions As Drought Bites Sydney (AFP) May 31, 2005
Australia's largest city, Sydney, announced unprecedented water restrictions Tuesday as the country's worst drought on record left dam levels at less than 40 percent.

CANBERRA, May 20 (Reuters) - Donning a trademark Australian hat and elastic-sided boots, Prime Minister John Howard toured the country's drought-stricken areas on Friday to lend an ear to farmers struggling against one of the worst droughts in a century. With dams dried up, paddocks turned to dust and cattle and sheep starving, Howard travelled up to 800 km
(500 miles) west of Sydney to the towns of Wentworth, West Wyalong and Lake Cargelligo ahead of a cabinet meeting on Monday to discuss further drought

Riots in Australia Spur Introspection

Ethnic Tensions Seen as Linked to War on Terror

By Anthony Faiola
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, December 20, 2005; 

CRONULLA, Australia, Dec. 19, 2005 -- Across Tom Ugly's Bridge just south of Sydney, this sleepy beach suburb once conjured the good-natured images of Australia's laid-back surf culture with strapping, straw-haired lifeguards and locals heading to the shore in their pick-up trucks for a cold lager with their mates.

That no-worries image went up in a blaze of hate last week when an angry crowd of 5,000 Anglo Australians staged vicious mob attacks on dark-skinned beachgoers and on people they believed to be Muslims.

After the incident, Lebanese Australian street gangs staged reprisals, rampaging across Sydney's largely white southern suburbs with guns, bats and iron bars. The incidents have amounted to the worst outbreak of ethnic violence here since Australia became a federated nation in 1901. In recent days, Cronulla Beach, a suburb, stood largely deserted as 2,000 police officers locked it down with checkpoints to prevent further attacks.

Over the weekend, police arrested more than 59 people, including alleged white supremacists and Lebanese Australian gang members carrying homemade bombs, iron-spiked bats, swords and axes. Officials said the blockade of troubled beach areas could continue through Christmas.

Yet the violence and lingering tensions in Sydney, Australia's largest metropolis, have sparked an extraordinary level of soul-searching across this island country about race, religion, and cultural and national identity. Perhaps most striking is that community leaders and sociologists are viewing the riots, at least in part, as a local manifestation of the broader ethnic troubles linked to the global fight against terrorism.

Anti-Muslim feelings, community leaders say, have been rising for the past several years in Sydney, with its picturesque harbor and 4 million residents known for their welcoming hospitality. Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, Australia, which has staunchly supported the Bush administration and dispatched troops to Iraq and Afghanistan, has had a preoccupation with terrorism.

Australians refer to bombings by Islamic attackers at Bali, Indonesia, nightclubs in October 2002 as their version of Sept. 11. Of the 202 people killed in the attacks on the resort island, 88 were Australians, including seven women from the Cronulla Beach area. Their photographs are displayed on a stone memorial in the center of the area where the riots took place one week ago.

Authorities arrested 18 Islamic radicals in Sydney and Melbourne last month under newly strengthened anti-terrorism laws. The men, among them Australian-born Muslims, had been stockpiling large amounts of explosives and chemicals for what appeared to be a series of major terrorist attacks, officials said. Among their plans, according to testimony and evidence presented in court, were a bomb attack on a nuclear power plant in Sydney and an assassination attempt against Prime Minister John Howard. Reports on the trials were featured on the front pages of newspapers and on television news shows here in the days before and after the riots.

Tensions erupted after a group of Lebanese youths allegedly attacked two Australian lifeguards -- figures viewed here as national symbols akin to Canada's Mounties or Britain's Beefeater guards. Radio talk-show hosts and tabloid newspapers inflamed passions by calling for demonstrations on the beaches. A campaign of cell phone text messages went further, some apparently originating from white supremacist groups, and widely disseminated. The messages prodded protesters to turn Dec. 11 into a "bash the Lebs day" -- referring to Australians of Middle Eastern descent, many of whom are ethnically Lebanese.

Participants said the crowd on the beach that day included men wrapping themselves in the Australian flag, some wearing profane shirts slandering the prophet Muhammad. At least one man in the crowd wore a shirt that read, "Osama Bin Laden Doesn't Surf."

"It started as a laugh with the mates," said Tim Kelloway, 16, a bronzed surfer who recounted the day's events. "But then things just got scary."

The ethnic taunts become violent, and mobs began "attacking anyone at the beach who looked like a Leb," said Kelloway, echoing the accounts of 11 other eyewitnesses interviewed for this article.

"The situation was ready to explode here," Kelloway said. "The Lebs have been coming around more and more, being rude to the Aussie girls and acting like this beach is theirs. I think we were all surprised by how bad things have become, but the truth is, they aren't really Australians. Look at what they do in other parts of the world. I mean, they don't see themselves as Aussies and we don't see them as Aussies, either."

More than three decades after this nation officially dropped its policy of selective immigration and welcomed people of many ethnic backgrounds, the riots have shocked many Australians. In recent decades, the country has embraced the concept of a multicultural society, in which non-European immigrants were not pressured to assimilate culturally into mainstream society.

Leaders of Australia's large Asian population -- the nation's single largest ethnic group after white Australians -- hail the country as exceedingly tolerant. "We could not ask for a more hospitable home," said Peter Wong, a legislator in the New South Wales parliament who immigrated from China almost 40 years ago.

Those sentiments, analysts and community leaders said, can be attributed in part to the rise in recent years of violent Lebanese and Middle Eastern gangs who are taking their cues from an unusual mix of Muslim-empowerment messages and American hip-hop culture. Wearing baggy jeans and souped-up low-riders, they cruise the streets of Sydney, dwelling mostly in the disadvantaged western suburbs, which suffer from lower education levels and employment rates almost twice as low as the national average. In 2002, several gang members were charged with brutal rapes of Australian women.

Community leaders say that increasing anti-Muslim sentiment has isolated people of Middle Eastern origin from other Australians, although many Lebanese here are Christians who fled violence in their country in the 1980s. People of Middle Eastern origin largely live in the greater Sydney area, where they make up about 5 percent of the population.

Young Arab Australians say that white Australians don't give them a chance, especially in the age of the war on terrorism. In high school, "I had lots of Aussie mates, but these days, you get the feeling they just don't trust you," said Ahmad Kanj, 30, an Australian-born Lebanese X-ray technician. Kanj advises young Muslims at the Islamic Youth Center in the Sydney suburb of Liverpool.

"They look at us in the malls, when we're walking down the street. And you know what they're thinking," he said.

"It's unfair to call us racists," said Alice Campbell, 16, who said she was at the Cronulla riots. "I have lots of Middle Eastern friends. But some of them come down here with their women who go into the water fully clothed and then turn around and stare at us and calling us cheap sluts. . . . I say, they need to start understanding our culture if they really want to be Aussies."

Members of Howard's Conservative Party and some commentators have used the sudden explosion of ethnic violence to denounce the concept of multiculturalism, which was embraced and promoted by the previous government, led by the Labor Party. Howard, meanwhile, has refused to describe the attacks against Australians of Middle Eastern descent as racially motivated. The prime minister instead referred to the violence more vaguely as a problem of "law and order" while insisting it must be viewed in the context of the assault on "Aussie" lifeguards the previous week. "Australia is not racist," he told reporters last week.

However, a public opinion poll by the Sydney Morning Herald published Monday showed that 75 percent of respondents disagreed with Howard, saying that the country has underlying racial problems.

The government of the state of New South Wales, where Sydney is located, has promoted meetings between representatives from both the beach communities and minority groups from the western suburbs. But the state legislature also passed emergency measures last week, allowing lockdowns of troubled neighborhoods, roadblocks and train searches that have lead to dozens of arrests and confiscations of weapons.

The national government has taken only one direct measure: an offer of a $385,000 grant to train Lebanese Australians as lifeguards.

"Australia has changed in the post-9/11 world without many of us even realizing it," said Amanda Wise, a fellow at Macquarie University's Center for Research on Social Inclusion. "It is clear that we are now in the middle of Islam-aphobia, and we need to admit that racism is at the core of this so we can begin dealing with it."

Dana cuts 800 jobs in Canada, Australia
Tue Dec 20, 2005 1:50 PM EST

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Auto parts maker Dana Corp. (DCN.N: Quote) said on Tuesday it would cut about 800 jobs in Canada and Australia as supply agreements expire for frames and axles.

Toledo, Ohio-based Dana will record pretax charges of about $28 million in the fourth quarter and sees another $10 million in charges in 2006 or early 2007.

Dana shares were down 20 cents, or 2.9 percent, at $6.65 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Australia's Snowy Hydro moves closer to full privatisation - report
SYDNEY (AFX) - The full privatisation of government-owned Snowy Hydro, which is worth at least 3.0 bln aud, gained momentum yesterday after federal treasurer Peter Costello said Canberra might sell its 13 pct stake in the electricity producer, The Australian newspaper reported.

It said Costello indicated the federal Government might join the state of New South Wales in unloading its share, while the state government of Victoria remains undecided about selling its 29 pct stake.

Last Friday the NSW state government said it wants to sell its 58 pct stake in Snowy Hydro.

The Australian said the NSW Government will brief investment bankers today.

It said Snowy Hydro's chairman Robert Barry said the operation has been considering ways to access equity to fund investment in new power stations and retail opportunities as additional debt alone is not an option.

Barry believes an IPO will give Snowy Hydro the ability to access markets to fund its plans for significant investment in value-adding generation and retail opportunities, as well as improving the Snowy scheme.

Snowy Hydro, Australia's second-biggest electricity generation operation, grew out of the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric Scheme.

It owns and manages seven power stations, 16 major dams (with a capacity of 3756 megawatts), and 145 km of tunnels and 80 km of aqueducts.

Other assets include the 300 MW Valley Power gas-fired generation plant in Victoria, and it is building a 320 MW plant at Laverton North, also in Victoria. It also owns the embryonic retailer Red Energy.

Last year, Snowy Hydro reported a pre-tax annual profit of 198.6 mln aud and paid dividends to its three shareholders totalling 110 mln aud.

(1 usd = 1.36 aud)



Ice Age footprints discovered in a dry lake bed in Australia
Thursday, December 22, 2005 

SYDNEY: Hundreds of human footprints dating back 20,000 years to the Ice Age have been discovered in a dry lake bed in Australia, scientists said on Thursday.

University of Melbourne archaeologist Matthew Cupper told Australian radio that they were the earliest footprint fossils found in the country. “It's really quite a remarkable find. It's a little snapshot in time. The possibilities are endless in terms of getting a window into past aboriginal society.”

They were left by adults, teenagers and children walking and running across moist clay flats near Willandra Lakes, southwest of Sydney, the university archaeologists who made the discovery said. The prints, ranging in size from 5.1 to 11.8 inches, provide an insight into the anatomy and behaviour of the people who left them, they said in an on-line report in the Journal of Human Evolution.

“The size of the prints and the pace lengths in most trackways indicate tall individuals who were able to achieve high running speeds.”

Some of the people appeared to be hunting, with emu and kangaroo footprints also in the area and what appeared to be spear holes in the ground, they said. One man, estimated at six feet tall, appeared to be sprinting at about 20 kmh.

The report said 457 footprints, “'the largest collection of Pleistocene human footprints in the world”, has been the second such discovery in Australia.

More Evolutions headlines...

Australia toughen laws on Visas for foreign crews coming in on ships


The Australian government has announced it is to spend around $US73 million on a new visa system for foreign sea crews.

Each year more than half a million commercial ship crew arriving in Australia are checked against a computer database listing people of concern and given a Special Purpose Visa.

But from July next year they will have to apply for a new Maritime Crew Visa before they reach Australia.

That means tougher checks can be done by the security agency, ASIO, which will get extra funding under the new arrangements.

Australia's Department of Immigration will record sea crew movements and receive $US40 million for computer systems and new officers to assist the shipping industry and board vessels for checks.

Customs will also get 66 new officers to help enforce the changes.

The immigration minister says the new visa will bring security checks for foreign sea crew up to the same level as those in place for other visa categories.


Mohammed bin Zayed Meets Australia's FM

Dec 22, 2005 - 

Abu Dhabi, Dec. 22, 05 (WAM)-- General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces met over dinner on Thursday with Alexander Downer, Australia's Foreign Minister, and the accompanying delegation, currently visiting the UAE.

They discused bilateral relations and means of promoting them for the mutual benefit of both countries. They also reviewed developments in the regional and international arenas as well as issues of mutual concern.

Present at the meeting were Yusuf bin Mana Al Otaiba, Director of International Affairs at the Crown Prince Court, Dr. Saeed Mohammed Al Shamsi, UAE Ambassador to Australia, and Australia's Ambassador to the UAE, Jeremy Christopher.



Howard won't budge on same-sex marriage

December 23, 2005

JOHN Howard has ruled out recognising same-sex marriages, angering gay men and lesbians across the country.

Singer Elton John and Canadian filmmaker David Furnish were among hundreds of same-sex couples to wed in England and Wales this week when Britain followed Canada, Belgium, The Netherlands and Spain, to officially recognise same-sex unions.

Yesterday in Sydney, the Prime Minister said he opposed gay unions and believed marriage could exist only between a man and a woman.

Asked if he could support gay marriage in light of Sir Elton's civil union, he said: "I would be opposed to it. I think marriage is for men and women. That's why we amended the Marriage Act (in August last year)."

Mr Howard said he did not intend to show hostility or discrimination towards gay people. "But I believe very strongly that marriage is exclusively a union for life of a man and a woman to the exclusion of others," he said.

However, Mr Howard said he supported removing other discrimination against people in same-sex relationships.

Former Australian Medical Association president Kerryn Phelps, who married her partner Jackie Stricker in New York almost eight years ago, yesterday said she was angry their union was not recognised in Australia.

"I have serious concerns about the intrusion of the church into matters of the state," Dr Phelps said. "Gender is the least important factor in determining whether a relationship is worthy of marriage.

"It makes me angry, disgusted, it makes me ashamed in many respects of our system of government and it makes me determined Australia should have a bill of rights that enshrines equality."

Additional reporting: AAP

Australia To Track Muslim Clerics

SYDNEY, Australia, Dec. 27, 2005

Howard established the Muslim Advisory Council after the July 7 London bombings killed 52 people, highlighting the risk of homegrown terrorists in Britain.

(AP) Islamic clerics in Australia will be required to register and adhere to a code of conduct, a council of moderate Muslims announced Tuesday, amid efforts to rein in radical preachers following the London bombings.

The Muslim Advisory Council, which comprises 14 Islamic community leaders hand-picked by Prime Minister John Howard to help authorities counter the rise of Islamic extremism, will meet next month to discuss drafting the imams' code, council member Yasser Soliman said.

"We're trying to put together some sort of guidelines about who can become a cleric," Soliman told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio. "The guidelines are in response to suggestions by the community and clerics ... there are people who are appointing themselves as clerics when they're really just backyard clerics and unqualified."

Radical Muslim cleric Sheik Mohammed Omran who has preached that al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is a great man who played no part in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in the United States reacted angrily to the council's move.

"They don't have authority; they don't have the power; they don't have any license to talk about that (registering clerics)," Omran told The Australian newspaper in an interview published Tuesday.

Soliman agreed the council had no power to enforce the code of conduct or force clerics to register, but he predicted that only five or six clerics would refuse to register.

"They'll be identified as not plugging into the mainstream and not representing the community," Soliman said. "At this stage, there's a big fog about where they fit in."

Soliman said the guidelines will be helpful for clerics from overseas.

"Clerics coming from overseas especially would benefit from understanding the politics of the country, the political system, the language if they're not very fluent in English," Soliman said. "It's important that any gaps be identified. It's not something that should come across as being an insult."

Howard established the Muslim Advisory Council after the July 7 London bombings killed 52 people, highlighting the risk of homegrown terrorists in Britain.

The prime minister has criticized Australia's Islamic leaders for failing to speak out against radical preachers.

But Howard in turn has come under criticism for excluding radical Muslims from his council and for failing to acknowledge the role that Australia's involvement in the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq has in radicalizing young Muslims.

Australian authorities launched their largest ever counterterrorism crackdown on Nov. 8, arresting 18 Muslims in coordinated pre-dawn raids in Melbourne and Sydney in an operation police said headed off a catastrophic terror attack, possibly targeting a nuclear reactor in southern Sydney.

©MMV The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.


Australian Dollar Falls on View Interest-Rate Premium to Shrink

Dec. 28 , 2005 (Bloomberg) -- Australia's dollar fell on concern the country's yield differential will narrow as the U.S. continues to raise interest rates next year.

The Australian currency is headed for its first annual loss in four years after the Federal Reserve increased borrowing costs eight times in 2005, compared with once by the Reserve Bank of Australia.

``The U.S. economy remains sound and we expect two further interest rate rises in the new year,'' said Craig James, chief equities economist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia. ``The strength of the U.S. economy and those two interest rate rises will be underpinning the U.S. dollar in coming months.''

The Australian dollar bought 72.49 U.S. cents as of 9:33 a.m. in Sydney, from 72.90 cents late in Asia yesterday.

The currency has fallen 6.8 percent this year as the Federal Reserve has lifted its key interest rate eight times to 4.25 percent compared with just one increase by the Reserve Bank of Australia to 5.5 percent.



SA fire crews prepare for extreme conditions

The Country Fire Service (CFS) is warning of extreme fire danger conditions across much of South Australia in the coming days.

Firefighters yesterday fought several fires sparked by lightning strikes on Eyre Peninsula, Yorke Peninsula and in the Adelaide Hills.

The Bureau of Meteorology recorded more than 15,000 lightning strikes and 173 incidents were reported to the CFS.

CFS state commander Rob Sandford says while today's milder weather conditions should give firefighters a brief respite, it is unlikely to last long.

"Then later in the week, probably Thursday and Friday, are going to be hot to warm, probably windy as well," he said.

"So people will need to be taking care and they need to talk through with their families about whether they stay and defend their property or go early.

"If they go early, we mean early in the day - well before the fire has even started."

Eyre Peninsula CFS regional commander Kevin May says fire crews will spend much of today mopping up before the fire danger rises again tomorrow.

"We've got warm days Thursday and Friday so crews are going to be very busy for the next 24 to 48 hours," he said.

Temperatures are expected to rise into the mid-30s again tomorrow.


State Emergency Service (SES) crews also had a busy night, as fierce winds ripped through a number of towns in the state's north.

Damage was reported in places including Port Pirie, Iron Knob, Roxby Downs and Whyalla, while some Adelaide suburbs suffered minor damage.

Whyalla SES unit manager Tony Fahlbusch says there were more than 25 calls for help, with trees and powerlines down across the city.

He described the scene last night.

"At the moment it's quite grey in colour because we're now also getting the smell of the smoke from the fires at Cleve-Dark Peake area but it's quite eerie," he said.



Australians flee epic tropical storm

    March 20 2006

By Mike Corder

Sydney - A powerful tropical cyclone packing winds of up to 290km/h slammed into Australia's north-eastern coast on Monday after more than 1 000 tourists and local residents were evacuated to higher ground, the weather bureau said.

Tropical cyclone Larry smashed into the coastal community of Innisfail, about 100km south of Cairns, a popular jumping-off point for the Great Barrier Reef, forecaster Jonty Hall said.

The weather bureau on Monday upgraded the storm to a category five - the strongest category possible - and thousands of local residents were evacuated ahead of the cyclone's arrival.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage, but officials predicted the storm could cause widespread devastation.

Hall said conditions were "terrible" in the region, and warned of surging coastal tides and gale-force winds along a 300km stretch of coast in north-eastern Queensland.

"There are extremely dangerous conditions," he said. "We're starting to see a very dangerous storm surge come to shore ... It doesn't get much worse than this."

The weather bureau said destructive winds were occurring along the exposed coast from Port Douglas, about 50km north of Cairns, to Ingham, about 250km south.

Late Sunday, Queensland state Counter Disaster and Rescue Services executive director Frank Pagano compared the potential force of Larry to Katrina, which ravaged the United States' Gulf states in August last year, killing more than 1 300 people.

"This is the most devastating cyclone that we could potentially see on the east coast of Queensland for decades... there is going to be destruction," Pagano told reporters in Brisbane.

National flag carrier Qantas cancelled a scheduled morning flight to Cairns and another to Townsville - the two largest cities in the cyclone's possible path. Cairns has a population of 125 000 while Townsville is home to 160 000 people.

Brisbane Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre website advised:

"People in the path of this very dangerous cyclone should stay calm and remain in a secure shelter - above the expected water level - while the very destructive winds continue."

The stretch of coast the storm was heading toward includes the tourist city of Cairns, popular with international travellers and the start point for many Great Barrier Reef boat cruises.

"Coastal residents between Cairns and Townsville are specifically warned of the dangerous storm tide as the cyclone crosses the coast," the bureau warned. "The sea is likely to steadily rise up to a level which will be significantly above the normal tide, with damaging waves, strong currents and flooding of low-lying areas extending some way inland."

Queensland state Premier Peter Beattie declared a disaster situation, giving local governments the power to enforce mandatory evacuations.

Authorities ordered residents living south of Cairns to flee their homes if they live close to the coast.

"There have been mandatory evacuations of coastal shires south of Cairns... and emergency shelters set up for people who feel at risk with nowhere to go," a Cairns City Council Disaster Coordination Centre spokesperson told Australian Associated Press.

"It's most likely thousands of people are evacuating to avoid the high tide," he added.

Larry was expected to cross the coast early on Monday morning.

Peter Rekers, a spokesperson for the Queensland state Counter Disaster and Rescue Service, said he was worried about the cyclone's size - with strong winds expected along up to 400km of the coast.

"The big concern for us - if one town is hit by devastation then towns from the surrounding area can come down to assist - (but) in this case, we're likely to see four or five towns across being devastated at much the same time," he told Australian Broadcasting Corp. "So they're not going to be as easy to get to each other and look after each other."

Pagano warned residents to stay away from areas likely to become flooded, saying water often posed a much higher danger than gale-force winds during cyclones.

"Buildings themselves may withstand the force of the winds because of our building codes, however, a category four and category five will be devastating," Pagano said. - Sapa-AP


Massive Cyclone Slams Australia
Category 5 Storm Inflicts Extensive Property Damage

CAIRNS, Australia (March 20) -- The most powerful storm to hit Australia in three decades laid waste to its northeastern coast Monday, mowing down sugar and banana plantations with 180 mph winds but causing no deaths or serious injuries

Innisfail, a farming town of 8,500 located about 60 miles south of the tourist city of Cairns, was hardest hit, and Mayor Neil Clarke estimated that thousands of residents were left homeless.

More than 100,000 people were without power, and the damage was estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Prime Minister John Howard pledged immediate cash handouts to the homeless and said more help would be forthcoming.

"The damage to dwellings is very extensive," Howard told the Nine Network from Melbourne. "Thank heavens it does not appear as though there have been any very serious injuries."

Clarke told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. the local airport was being cleared to house people in tents.

The town's main street was littered with mangled tin and iron roofs and shredded fronds from seaside palm trees.

"It looks like an atomic bomb hit the place," Clarke said. "We won't even have any water to drink by tomorrow."

Cyclone Larry crashed ashore south of Cairns as a Category 5 storm. Cairns is a popular jumping-off point for tourists to the Great Barrier Reef, the world's largest coral system that runs parallel to the coast for more than 1,400 miles.

Authorities said it was too early to assess possible damage to the reef, visited by nearly 2 million tourists each year.

David Wachenfeld, director of science at the government body that cares for the reef, said the worst-hit area of the reef was not one that was popular with tourists. He said it would recover -- though that could take 20 years.

About 30 people were treated at hospitals for minor cuts and abrasions, said Ben Creagh, a spokesman for Queensland state Department of Emergency Services. The human toll was low because people were warned about the cyclone's approach over the weekend and either boarded up their homes and fled or hunkered down or went to evacuation centers in town while the storm raged outside, Creagh said.

"Good planning, a bit of luck -- we've dodged a bullet," Creagh said.

The storm was the most powerful to hit Australia since Christmas Eve in 1974, when Cyclone Tracy destroyed the northern city of Darwin, killing 65 people.

By early Tuesday, the storm was moving inland to the west over a remote area of northeastern Australia. It was losing force and had been downgraded to a Category 2 storm.

State authorities declared a natural disaster, and Howard promised immediate payments to families of $720 for each adult and $290 for each child left homeless. Howard indicated that more aid would come after the government assessed the damage.

State Disaster Coordination Center spokesman Peter Rekers warned residents to stay on their guard for deadly animals stirred up by the storm.

"Most of the casualties and deaths resulting from cyclones happen after the storm has passed," he warned. "Keep your kids away from flooded drains, be aware of snakes and crocodiles. Those guys will have had a bad night, too."

Queensland state leader Peter Beattie said 55 percent of homes in Innisfail had been damaged, though rescue and assessment teams were yet to get full access to the swamped region. All roads into Innisfail remained blocked late Monday night.

"We haven't had a cyclone like this for decades, if we've ever had one like it before," he said. "The property damage has been immense."

The storm was so bad at its height overnight that police were unable to venture out and help terrified residents who called to say the winds had ripped roofs off buildings and destroyed their homes.

Des Hensler, an Innisfail resident, took shelter by himself in a church, with water up to his ankles.

"I don't get scared much, but this is something to make any man tremble in his boots," he told the Seven television network.

As emergency services fanned out across the region later to assess the damage, they saw devastation.

Farmers were expected to be among the hardest hit -- the region is a major growing region for bananas and sugar cane, and the storm stripped plantations bare. Officials said damage would run into hundreds of millions of dollars.

"It looks like someone's gone in there with a slasher and slashed the top off everything," said Bill Horsford, an Innisfail cane farmer and member of the Cane Protection and Productivity Board.

3/20/2006 08:13 EST

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press.

50-year low as drought shears into wool output

July 11, 2006

WOOL production in Australia, at its lowest in more than 50 years, may decline further as drought reduces sheep feed.

Production may fall to 456,000 tonnes this financial year, the forecasting committee of Australian Wool Innovation says. That's 0.7 of a percentage point down on last year and 1.9 per cent below its March forecast.

Farmers in Australia, the world's largest wool producer and exporter, are struggling to expand flocks amid an 18 per cent jump in prices for the fibre this year because of lingering dry weather. Drought covers 89 per cent of NSW, Australia's biggest wool-growing state, where some farms have suffered below-average rainfall for the past five years.

"If the drought doesn't turn around, it is quite possible that our next forecast" in late September may be revised down, David James, the committee's chairman, said. Poorer pasture conditions were stressing sheep, causing them to produce lighter fleeces, he said.

The wool production forecast for the financial year was based on 106 million head of sheep each yielding an average of 4.31 kilograms of fleece, Australian Wool Innovation said.

Wool auction prices on the benchmark Eastern Market Indicator rose 0.3 per cent to $7.49 a kilogram last Thursday.

Output in Western Australia, the second-biggest wool-producing state, is forecast to fall to 111,000 tonnes, down 7 per cent.


Australia: Drought Sees Cattle Giant Cut Herd Numbers


One of Australia's big cattle companies says it is continuing to "aggressively" de-stock its Queensland Channel Country properties as the drought continues to bite.

S Kidman and Co has properties on the Georgina, Diamantina and Cooper Creek systems, including Durham Downs in Queensland's far south-west and Sandringham further north near Bedourie.

Chief executive Greg Campbell says while a moderate flood earlier this year has helped, the drought is worsening in most south-west areas and cattle are still being moved out.

"Well we've got a couple of properties that are moving cattle in the hundreds each week ... as far as breeding stock goes that's quite an aggressive reduction for us," he said.

"We've had breeding stock for instance into the Roma saleyards for instance, you know a few hundred each week for the last couple of months really, so it's a case of continuing to wind back the numbers until it rains.

"Throughout the Channel Country at the moment we're about 50 to 60 per cent stocked, by comparison to our average carrying numbers, so we'll end up by the end of winter, if our seasonal conditions don't change, we'll end up with half or below half of our herd through our properties in south-west Queensland."


Dry June worsens drought conditions

July 5, 2006 - 4:39PM

Drought conditions have worsened in some parts of Australia after one of the driest Junes on record.

The Bureau of Meteorology's latest drought analysis highlights some severe rainfall deficiencies, particularly in central NSW and south-west WA.

"Australia-wide, it was the fifth driest June from 107 years of records, whilst it was the driest on record for Western Australia and the third driest for Victoria," the bureau said.

"This has contributed to a large area of driest-on-record along the south-west WA coast and in central NSW for the period since the start of autumn."

In WA, the dry area extends across a vast area of the state's southern half, from Shark Bay in the north to the southern port of Albany.

A broad coastal zone from Cape Leeuwin in the south to the port of Geraldton, some 400km north of Perth, has experienced record low rainfall over the past four months.

"June rainfall in south-west WA was generally less than 30 per cent of average, causing deficiencies to expand and intensify in comparison with the situation at the end of May," the bureau said.

"The south-west of WA needs above to very much above average rainfall for the rest of winter to remove the current short-term rainfall deficits."

Poor June rainfall in central NSW contributed to an expansion in the area experiencing an extreme dry spell.

Below average rainfall across southern Australia in June also caused serious to severe rainfall deficiencies in large areas of central and western Victoria, extending into South Australia, also affecting the northeastern tip of Tasmania.

© 2006 AAP


Drought catastrophe stalks Australia's farms

'People will be walking off the land' if it doesn't rain, one farmer predicts

By Rob Taylor
Updated: 11:35 a.m. PT Aug 29, 2007

MOULAMEIN, Australia - A thin winter green carpets Australia's southeast hills and plains, camouflaging the onset of a drought catastrophe in the nation's food bowl.

Sheep and cattle farmer Ian Shippen stands in a dying ankle-high oat crop under a mobile irrigation boom stretching nearly half-a-kilometer, but now useless without water.

"I honestly think we're stuffed," he says grimly. "It's on a knife edge and if it doesn't rain in the next couple of weeks it's going to be very ugly. People will be walking off the land, going broke."

Shippen's property "Chah Singh" sits in the heart of Australia's Murray-Darling river basin, a vast plain bigger than France and Germany, home to 2 million people and in good times the source of almost half the nation's fruit and cereal crop.

But years of drought, which some blame on global warming, have savagely depleted the huge dams built 60 years ago to hold the snow melt from the Australian alps and push it hundreds of miles inland to the parched west for farm irrigation.

The Murray-Darling normally provides 90 percent of Australia's irrigated crops and $18 billion worth of agricultural exports to Asia and the Middle East.

But with some crops now just days from failure, farmers are to receive no water at all for irrigation through the summer, while others will get a fraction of their regular entitlement to keep alive vital plantings like citrus trees and grapevines.

The massive Hume Weir, which can hold enough water to fill seven Sydney Harbours, is so dry that a lakeside holiday village is now a third of a mile from the depleted shore and rods to measure water depth stand on bare rock far from the waters' edge.

"It's grim. The water is not there," says Wendy Craik, the head of the Murray-Darling Basin Commission, which oversees storage in the country's longest river and dam system.

Australia's Prime Minister John Howard warned of an "unprecedentedly dangerous" drought in April and advised the nation to pray for rain as economists warned the dry would wipe one percent off the economy in 2006-07.

Those prayers were answered briefly in May and June after winter storms lashed the east coast and major cities, bringing localized flooding and seemingly the end of a dry spell that has lasted near a decade in some areas of the country.

Rain indebted farmers more
But by bringing hope, the rains ironically may have also worsened the drought's impact on battling farmers through the hot months ahead.

"We thought it was just going to keep on raining. When you go into drought people normally just lock up and don't spend, but after that rain everyone just went out and spent money to plant crops and climb out of the hole they were in," says Shippen.

Near the town of Griffith in the Murrumbidgee River valley, renowned for its citrus and wines, thousands of oranges lie rotting under rows of trees stretching to the horizon under relentless blue skies.

"We are in the lap of the gods and rainfall. The trees are under a great deal of stress and any adverse weather or hot weather is creating an enormous amount of fruit drop," says second generation citrus grower Louis Sartor.

Sartor's father Giulio was among the Italian immigrant pioneers who opened Griffith to farming in the 1950s and he still works at age 80, pruning back trees against the drought.

"He thinks it will pass. He came here from Italy when it was like going to the moon. He is the total optimist," says the nuggety Sartor over tea and biscuits in his still-leafy garden.

Global warming skeptics
Sartor, like many conservative Australian farmers, is deeply skeptical about climate shift's role in the drought, despite U.N. predictions that temperatures could rise by 6.7 degrees Celsius by century's end.

"Find me the scientist that can stand up on a platform and say 'I know'," he says.

That skepticism runs even deeper south along the Murray, with many farmers certain irrigation shortages are the result of government bungling and a determination to claw back precious water for a green agenda driven by majority city-dwellers.

I class this as a human-induced crisis, not a climate induced one," says Neil Eagle, 79, a fourth-generation citrus grower at Barham, a retirement and farming haven on the Murray.

Eagle's forebears settled this so-called "Golden Rivers Country" in the 1890s, bringing paddleboats into the area and opening up irrigated cropping in a region verging on desert.

"I believe it was warmer in the 1930s and 40s than it has been in the last 50 years. These things are cyclical," he says.

At the same time environmental scientists like Tim Flannery argue the continent is a "harbinger" of climate shift and experiencing accelerated greenhouse warming.

They want to pipe the region's open irrigation ditches and cut back water use to protect long-term river health.

"If we are going to devastate the regions for agricultural production, that's exactly what will do it," says a frustrated Eagle. "If that sort of insanity does not prevail, there's no reason we won't get good years again."

'Bit of a believer'
But dairy farmer Phil O'Neill, who faces ruin with his critical water allocations cut, suspects climate change may be a part of what some say is the worst drought for a century.

"I'm a bit of a believer. This weather change combined with cyclical downturn in rains, it's a bloody disaster," he says.

O'Neill, a stocky 49-year-old with huge hands and steel-wool hair, is one of the last dairy farmers near Barham, with the long dry having already forced most others off the land.

With a rueful smile he says he spent $250,000 to keep going through last summer and wont be doing it again, instead opting to sell off parts of his cherished 1,100 acre farm.

"There is 30-40 years of breeding there and it could all be gone soon," he says, his voice cracking with emotion as he hefts three-day-old calves onto pickup truck for sale or slaughter.

George Warne, the head of Murray Irrigation, lives in Barham and is training staff to spot depression in farmers as the drought hits harder.

"There's an underlying epidemic of fear and worry out there," he says. "We've got all the signs of a stressed community."

Reserve Bank figures show rural debt has risen sharply. "We are hearing stories of farmers defaulting on lease payments," Warne says.

Adding to the economic vice are rising interest rates, with most farmers already heavily in debt for millions of dollars worth of tractors, harvesters and irrigation equipment.

Warne backs a $9 billion plan put forward by Prime Minister Howard to protect water supplies in the months ahead, but which is being whittled back by bickering between competing states over water. Howard wants to seize control of the river system to end state squabbling and make water a nationally-controlled asset.

Shippen says the drought and a new sense of the importance of water in the driest inhabited continent, with prices having risen 25 fold, will change Australian farming forever and make some irrigation unviable.

"It's going to be a massive change," the one-time rice farmer says. "I spent the first half of my life developing irrigation and I'll spend the second half pulling it down."

To Warne the only solution to a disaster threatening to unravel whole rural communities is in the heavens.

"We are now in something that is beyond probabilities. We are in a drought sequence that's worse than our white history," he says.

Copyright 2007 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.