MORNING RUSH: news, sport, weather, traffic and online goss

8.51am That's it from us this morning. ADVANCED WARNING: Morning Rush will wrap up for the Christmas break on Friday (I know, I know, it hurts me too). But we'll be back on January 6. And there's still two editions to go! Have a great Wednesday - catchya on the flip side.

8.47am Love this from the Huffington Post this morning - vintage styles that need to come back. I would love to see the pill-box hat & neck scarf make a resurgence - so lady-like and pretty.

8.45am LOCAL NEWS: New Liberal MP Ann Sudmalis wants to end the "I, me and mine" culture and get Australians asking what they could do for their country and community. The member for Gilmore invoked John F. Kennedy and Nelson Mandela in her exhortations to selflessness.

8.43am It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas - have you put your tree up yet? When do you think is a suitable date to put it up - Dec 1, now, the last week in November? Would love your thoughts.

8.39am Have you been watching Embarrasing Bodies Down Under? I can't - it literally makes me feel ill. If you have been tuning in, here's a recap on last night's episode if you missed it. The highlight appears to be a skin disease.

8.36am BREAKING: A man will face court accused of assaulting three people in an apparently unprovoked attack at a Parramatta shopping centre. The man, 23, is alleged to have punched and kicked a 26-year-old man sitting in the centre’s food court on Tuesday afternoon. He’s then accused of hitting a 61-year-old man in the head, knocking him out, and assaulting a 21-year-old security guard, who tried to restrain him.All three victims were taken to hospital and later released. The alleged assailant was charged with assault occasioning bodily harm and affray. He was refused bail to appear in Parramatta Local Court on Wednesday. (AAP)

8.33am Don't forget Birds of Tokyo are playing @ Waves @ 7pm on Sunday. Tickets are still available - general Admission $41.50 + bf (presale).

8.30am SPORT: The missing link in Australia’s player production line – a domestic competition on par with South Africa’s Currie Cup and New Zealand’s ITM Cup – will be filled for the next two years at least by a broadcast deal that enables the Australian Rugby Union to stage a national rugby championship without dipping into its pockets.

8.28am MUSIC NEWS: Pre-sale tickets to the Rolling Stones concerts in Perth, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane have sold-out within minutes. The Stones announced their 14 On Fire six-show stadium tour of Australia on December 4. Pre-sale tickets, through Frontier Touring, went on sale on Monday. But for many fans eager to snap up a ticket their efforts failed due to the high demand.

8.20am BREAKING: A woman has been charged after police and customs found replica guns, electronic shock devices, knuckle dusters, batons, ammunition and tear gas at a Sydney container facility on Friday. It follows the arrest of a man several weeks ago when police seized hundreds of similar weapons. Police alleged the items were being sold at Sydney markets.This recent seizure allegedly included more than 200 replica pistols and air guns, 50 extendable batons, 60 sets of knuckle dusters and more than 70 electronic shock devices. Also found were 200 tear gas canisters, as well as an assortment of BB gun ammunition. Police say a woman, 49, was charged on Tuesday with importing prohibited goods. (AAP)

8.18am Wollongong's Sunset Cinema is kicking off its summer series (ooo that was a lot of S words) with the film "Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs 2" on Friday, Dec 27. Tickets are on-sale now & family passes are available.

8.16am Don't forget the Santa Claus Pub Crawl is on this weekend. Dress up, drink responsibly.

8.13am Wollongong store Milk Thieves have some seriously cute stuff on their shelves for the Christmas season. Go in and have a look - I saw some very adorable reindeer in there too!

8.11am TRAFFIC ALERT: Access to Keira St between Market and Crown St and Crown Lane will be closed from Monday to Wednesday nights until mid December for building work associated with the West Keira shopping complex. Night work will continue until Dec 18, weather permitting. Detours will be in place to direct motorists and pedestrians around the work. Motorists are reminded to follow reduced speed limits and the directions of traffic controllers. 

8.09am Ha! I love this pic of a seriously pampered pooch.

8.07am STRANGE BUT TRUE: A species of cockroach native to Asia that has been seen crawling around an outdoor tourist destination in New York City can survive the city's often brutal winters, according to a new study. Ewwwwwww.

8.05am Our competition to win tickets to see Disney Live! present Mickey's Magic Show finishes tonight! Get in quick for your chance to win tickets. Enter here.

8.03am WORLD NEWS: The head of Thailand's protest movement on Tuesday extended his extraordinary claims to holding power over government activities, issuing orders to officials over whom he has no legal or actual authority. (SMH)

8.01am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Good ol' Kim Kardashian. She has compared herself to Elizabeth Taylor in a new Instagram pic. Oh lordy.

7.59am LOCAL SPORT: It was a family affair at Sydney's harness racing corruption trial: the champion driver, Illawarra's Greg Bennett, accused of bribing a steward; his dad, Jim, the trainer with 50 years in the game; and the driver's brother-in-law, a retired school teacher who crunched the statistics to show Bennett drove plenty of winners for other trainers.

7.57am SPORT: Former world heavyweight champion boxer Mike Tyson has been forced to cancel appearances in London after discovering he is banned from entering Britain.

7.55am Let's have a look what's making news in your Mercury today.

*Shelved plans to build Wollongong's tallest building atop the CBD's highest hill look set to rise again, with developers unveiling a $70 million proposal for a 4.5-star hotel and residential complex.

*A South Coast man, accused of murdering his wife 17 years ago, made a "false confession" to police in relation to the crime and should be released on bail pending a trial, his lawyer has told the state's highest court.

*A Bulli man had a "close call" more than 1000 metres over Wollongong yesterday after his tandem skydiving instructor was forced to cut loose their primary parachute.

*Wollongong Liberal councillor Bede Crasnich continued his attack on the United Services Union yesterday, after he faced abusive hecklers at Monday night's council meeting.

7.53am Good morning and happy Wednesday! If you're on your way to work, let's have a look at your weather, traffic and trains.

WEATHER It's going to be another sunny day (yay!) with a top of 25 degrees, so a little cooler than yesterday (phew, was it hot last night or what?!). There will be some wind around & there is a high fire danger. Right now in Albion Park it's 18 degrees and it's 20 in Bellambi.

TRAFFIC Everything looks clear on the roads this morning and for the run to Sydney. Don't forget those changed traffic conditions at Appin - slow down around there.

TRAINS There is a good service on the South Coast line.

7.50am 11/12/13 - is this one of the most iconic dates of the year? Not really. But certainly one can appreciate the rarity of it. Today is the last time this century the date lines up in consecutive order

7.46am It's the season of giving so we’d like to give you a $100 Coles Group and Myer Gift Card. Simply subscribe to an Illawarra Mercury Print and Digital subscription package for just $25 every 4 weeks. With this subscription package, you’ll get the best of both worlds with the Mercury delivered to your door each morning, plus full access to the Digital Edition. Hurry, offer ends December 18, 2013. Subscribe by calling 4221 2234 between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday.

7.44am BREAKING: The federal government is daring the World Heritage Committee to put the Great Barrier Reef on its endangered list by approving a huge coal port near Bowen, the Australian Greens warn. Environment Minister Greg Hunt has given the Abbot Point project the go-ahead, subject to what he says are strict environmental conditions. He has also approved Arrow Energy’s gas project on Curtis Island in central Queensland and a transmission pipeline to the island. (AAP)

7.43am LOCAL NEWS: Peabody Energy has moved to allay fears about the future of its Helensburgh mine after announcing plans to shut down its Wilkie Creek site in Queensland at the end of the year.

7.40am STRANGE BUT (POSSIBLY) TRUE: The modern obsession with photographing every detail of happy occasions such as birthdays or weddings could be damaging our ability to remember them, according to US research. A study has shown that taking pictures rather than concentrating fully on the events in front of us prevents memories from taking hold.

7.38am CELEB NEWS: Ten days after his death, Fast & the Furious star Paul Walker's remains have been released to his family.

7.35am Could "fun" be the essential ingredient in getting fitHmmm. What do you think?

7.33am SPORT: ARU chief executive Bill Pulver insists steps have been put in place to ensure the National Rugby Championship won't be a financial disaster when the concept is rebooted in 2014.

7.31am BREAKING: A man has been thrashed with his own guitars in a home invasion in Surry Hills. Three men forced their way into the man’s Belvoir Street unit on Monday night and bashed the man with two of his acoustic guitars, police say. The attackers, one of whom was carrying a knife, stole cash and two electric guitars. The injured man was taken to St Vincent’s Hospital with face, hand and leg injuries. Police are urging anyone with information about the incident to come forward. (AAP)

7.29am Don't forget Shellharbour Carols by Candelight are on this Friday night. Grab a picnic blanket and sing your heart out!

7.27am We're giving away tickets for you and four friends to see "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues". The competition ends this Sunday so get in quick! Enter here to win.

7.24am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Britney Spears has confessed to getting some "cosmetic enhancements."

7.22am WORLD NEWS: A French court has sentenced Jean-Claude Mas, the founder of Poly Implant Prothese (PIP), to four years in prison for fraud in the first criminal trial on the worldwide sale of breast implants made with cheap silicone.

7.20am Vogue has published its best dressed stars of 2013. And there are some gorgeous outfits here.

7.18am Do you send out Christmas cards? I haven't this year & really haven't in the past - what do you think? Good tradition or waste of paper?

7.16am SPORT: Speculation is mounting that the NRL could announce sanctions related to the ASADA investigation as soon as today.

7.14am Whisk and Sift bakeress (not sure if this is the female term for a baker but I like it) Kate Shepherd has been creating in the kitchen again - she's whipped up some delish peanut & milk chocolate truffles. Oh yum!

7.12am LOCAL NEWS: A group of Illawarra adventurers will be doing more than taking in the gorgeous scenery when they head to Mount Everest's base camp next March. Their trip will raise money for the Himalayan Education Charity Foundation (HECF), an organisation that helps keep children who live near the mountains in school.

7.10am Really interesting story on Mamamia yesterday - a man in the US proposed to his girlfriend, then changed his mind - so she sued him. And got $50,000 out of it.

7.08am Bomb-proof BMWs are expected to replace the prime minister’s fleet of high-security Holden limousines after the local carmaker failed in a multi-million dollar bid to replace the armour-plated cars. Holden didn’t submit a bid for the new build contract to replace the ageing fleet of nine armour-plated Caprices, including the PM’s own car ‘‘C1’’, The Daily Telegraph reported on Wednesday. (AAP)

7.06am BREAKING: A young Australian medical student has died on a volunteering mission to East Africa after he was involved in a car accident. James Kelly, 23, had only arrived in Tanzania in recent weeks and was due to spend up to a year volunteering when he was critically injured in the crash and died. (SMH)

7.04am Yours & Owls Death Party this Friday night is dress-up. So dress up dead, dress to kill, to die for or just plain deadly. Tickets are $15.

7.02am We're giving away family passes to see our Hawks take on the Perth Wildcats on January 4. Entries close Sunday. Enter here to win tickets.

7am LOCAL NEWS: Five Illawarra RailCorp electricians face a troubled Christmas after being told they will no longer have a job in the new year. Electrical Trades Union NSW secretary Steve Butler said RailCorp had informed 21 electricians in the Wollongong-Sydney-Newcastle region on Monday they would be replaced by contractors.

6.58am STRANGE BUT TRUE: A huge airport in central Spain that cost one billion euros ($1.5 billion) to build but has not received a commercial flight since 2011 went up for auction Monday for just 100 million euros.

6.56am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Katy Perry has revealed what caused the split between her and ex-husband Russell Brand - and how she coped with being broken up with via text.

6.54am Let's have a look what's making news in your Mercury today.

*Shelved plans to build Wollongong's tallest building atop the CBD's highest hill look set to rise again, with developers unveiling a $70 million proposal for a 4.5-star hotel and residential complex.

*A South Coast man, accused of murdering his wife 17 years ago, made a "false confession" to police in relation to the crime and should be released on bail pending a trial, his lawyer has told the state's highest court.

*A Bulli man had a "close call" more than 1000 metres over Wollongong yesterday after his tandem skydiving instructor was forced to cut loose their primary parachute.

*Wollongong Liberal councillor Bede Crasnich continued his attack on the United Services Union yesterday, after he faced abusive hecklers at Monday night's council meeting.

6.52am Good morning & welcome to the middle of the working week! If you're jut getting up this morning (lucky you!), let's have a look at your weather, traffic and trains.

WEATHER It's going to be another sunny day (yay!) with a top of 25 degrees, so a little cooler than yesterday (phew, was it hot last night or what?!). There will be some wind around & there is a high fire danger. Right now in Albion Park it's 14 degrees and it's 17 in Bellambi.

TRAFFIC Everything looks clear on the roads this morning and for the run to Sydney. Don't forget those changed traffic conditions at Appin - slow down around there.

TRAINS There is a good service on the South Coast line.

6.50am Roo Theatre are selling Christmas packages to their upcoming musical Joesph & his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. Head over to the company's website for more information.

6.48am  The Noël! Noël! concerts of the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and Brandenburg Choir will return to St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral tonight at 7pm.

6.46am LOCAL NEWS: A Kiama Downs resident believes attacks on trees at Cathedral Rocks Reserve may worsen under an apparent shift in council policy. Trees in the reserve at the south end of Jones Beach have been poisoned and hacked, including a 30-year-old Norfolk pine.

6.44am WORLD NEWS: As speaker after speaker at Nelson Mandela’s memorial called for unity, a greater voice spoke of the increasing dissent and disquiet at the heart of South African politics. You only had to listen to the 50,000-strong crowd at FNB Stadium on the borders of Soweto to know that president Jacob Zuma is very unpopular. Yep, the man was booed.

6.42am And in other tech news - apparently, now you can enjoy the delicious smell of buttery popcorn - through your iphone. Yes, of course.

6.40am TECH NEWS: Facebook has finally solved the problem for when a "like" just doesn't feel appropriate but you want to show support - a sympathise button.

6.38am LOCAL SPORT: Gym bragging rights will be on the line this Saturday when Excel Fitness Wollongong hosts its first open Olympic weightlifting competition.

6.36am She's back. Oh god no. Two years after the release of viral music hit Friday, YouTube sensation Rebecca Black is back with a sequel - Saturday. Check it out here.

6.34am Keen to show off your singing skills? Then head to Kiama tonight for the annual Carols in the Park. Bring the family down early tonight for a great carol concert in Hindmarsh Park. Make sure you come down early to reserve your spot! The concert kicks off at 7.30pm.

6.32am SPORT - cricket: Mitchell Johnson's Ashes heroics are set to reap the reborn superstar a multimillion-dollar payday through potentially lucrative deals on and off the field.

6.30am Lake Illawarra's new management has been put on hold by Wollongong City Council after councillors demanded a firmer financial commitment from the state government.

6.28am Keira MP Ryan Park has just tweeted: "humbled and honoured to be appointed the Shadow Minister for Education and the Illawarra. Two policy areas I am extremely passionate about!"

6.26am The Morilla Movember team ended up raising a mammoth $24,419 during November for men's health - wow. Well done guys!

6.24am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Harry Potter's Daniel Radcliffe is sporting some interesting looking hair extensions. When I say interesting, I mean gross.

6.22am Have you seen our Christmas lights gallery? Holy good night there are some amazing homes in here! Check out the guide to the best houses in the Illawarra here and don't forget to enter your house via our iphone app - great prizes to be won!

6.20am A new drug has cured cancer in almost a quarter of patients with advanced leukaemia, early trial results show, in a breakthrough that also shows promise for the treatment of other cancers.

6.18am US president Barack Obama has been caught taking a selfie at Nelson Mandela's memorial service. Thoughts? Bad taste or a sign of the times?

6.16am LOCAL NEWS: The expletive-laden conduct of "undesirables" in Wollongong's Crown Street Mall has come under scrutiny from a social media citizens' group aimed at civilising the shopping strip. The group's Facebook page, called Move the junkies out of the Wollongong Mall & CBD, is a response to "drug-affected, undesirables who congregate and infect the local community"

6.14am CELEB GOSS ALERT: I've just heard a rumour that Jay from Geordie Shore is coming to Wollongong this Saturday for the Santa Claus Pub Crawl. True or false? Would love confirmation!

6.12am BREAKING: High school students are increasingly studying subjects they consider safe options rather than challenging themselves, the head of one of Sydney's most privileged private schools says.

6.10am LOCAL SPORT: South Coast boxer Mark Lucas has his sights set firmly on next year's Commonwealth Games after taking out the stacked middleweight (75kg) division at the NSW Amateur Boxing Titles.

6.08am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Miranda Kerr has given her first interview post Orlando Bloom break-up - and appeared topless.

6.06am And now for the national headlines (SMH & ABC):

*Sources close to Holden say the car maker remains unconvinced the federal government intends to provide further assistance to the industry after 2016.

*People smugglers are telling asylum seekers that bad diplomatic relations between Australia and Indonesia mean the route by boat to Christmas Island is once again open for business.

*Tens of thousands of South Africans gathered alongside presidents, religious leaders, queens and sheikhs at a memorial service for Nelson Mandela.

*Homicide squad detectives have arrested and questioned a man over the disappearance of Melbourne schoolgirl Siriyakorn 'Bung' Siriboon more than two years ago.

6.04am Let's have a look what's making news in your Mercury today.

*Shelved plans to build Wollongong's tallest building atop the CBD's highest hill look set to rise again, with developers unveiling a $70 million proposal for a 4.5-star hotel and residential complex.

*A South Coast man, accused of murdering his wife 17 years ago, made a "false confession" to police in relation to the crime and should be released on bail pending a trial, his lawyer has told the state's highest court.

*A Bulli man had a "close call" more than 1000 metres over Wollongong yesterday after his tandem skydiving instructor was forced to cut loose their primary parachute.

*Wollongong Liberal councillor Bede Crasnich continued his attack on the United Services Union yesterday, after he faced abusive hecklers at Monday night's council meeting.

6.02am If you're jut getting up this morning (lucky you!), let's have a look at your weather, traffic and trains.

WEATHER It's going to be another sunny day (yay!) with a top of 25 degrees, so a little cooler than yesterday (phew, was it hot last night or what?!). There will be some wind around & there is a high fire danger. Right now in Albion Park it's 12 degrees and it's 16 in Bellambi.

TRAFFIC Everything looks clear on the roads this morning and for the run to Sydney. Don't forget those changed traffic conditions at Appin - slow down around there.

TRAINS There is a good service on the South Coast line.

6am Good morning and happy hump day! Yep, we made it to the middle of the week - yippee! Stay with your host this morning for all of Wednesday's news, sport, weather & online goss.

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