MORNING RUSH: news, weather, sport, traffic & online buzz

8.30am That's it from us this morning! Have a fabulous Monday, enjoy this nice weather. See you tomorrow.

8.16am CELEB NEWS: Girls star Lena Dunham has reportedly paid $US4.8 million ($5.8 million) for a "condo" - US speak for a well-built apartment - in Brooklyn.

8.12am STRANGE BUT TRUE: A Centrelink manager who left dozens of sensitive client files on public transport earlier this year has been let off with a small fine and a reprimand. Read more.

8.10am SPORT: The NRL will commemorate the Anzac centenary with one of the largest football marathons ever, with five games played across Australia and New Zealand on Anzac Day next year. (SMH)

8.08am BREAKING CELEB NEWS: Kourtney Kardashian has given birth to a baby boy, adding to her clan with partner Scot Disick.

8.06am LOCAL NEWS: A production centred on a giant man-eating plant demanding to be fed is taking Illawarra theatre to the next level.

*Reporter Andrew Pearson has the full story on Little Shop of Horrors.

8.04am Are you constructing a gingerbread house this year? My fiancee proposed with a gingerbread house on Xmas Eve last year so they hold a special place in my heart. Aww.

8.02am MOVIE NEWS: Have you seen Horrible Bosses 2 yet? Sounds like it's very funny - I haven't even seen the first one, hopeless! Check out the trailer.

8am Good morning! We're in for a mostly sunny day today with a top of 24 degrees. There is a slight chance of a shower. All good on the roads & rail.

7.58am Tickets for the musical Sweet Charity go on-sale at the IPAC today. Get in quick, these babies won't last long!

7.56am SYDNEY: Two men have died and one man has been rescued after their small fishing boat hit rocks and capsized in rough seas off Botany Bay on Sunday afternoon. Read more.

7.54am Never fully understood evolution? Maybe this will help. Bill Nye, the Science Guy (as seen on The Big Band Theory) tries to simplify evolution, using emoji.

7.52am Sometimes I forget just how beautiful the Illawarra is. Check out this gorgeous shot of Lake Illawarra over the weekend.

7.50am CELEB NEWS: Actor Mark Wahlberg lost $US45,000 ($54,427) on a single bet while preparing to play a gambling drug addict in the new movie The Gambler. Whalberg has stepped into the role made famous by James Caan in the 1974 original and as part of his movie research, he headed to a casino in Macau, China to try his luck on the tables. He didn't do so well.

7.48am Have you got plans for NYE yet? Festivities will be held at Wollongong Harbour, along with fireworks. Read more.

7.46am SPORT: Phillip Hughes' brother returned to playing cricket over the weekend. His score? 63. What are the odds?!

7.44am WORLD NEWS: A mother-of-three is being treated in a Malaysian hospital after her husband hacked off her hands and feet with a meat cleaver before killing himself. (SMH)

7.42am Have you entered your house in our annual Christmas lights competition? Get in quick - entries close on December 22.

7.40am Cellist Anthony Albrecht will perform at the Old Court House tonight.

7.38am Join me for a walk down memory lane this morning with the "stars of the 90s - then & now" gallery. Enjoy.

7.36am NSW: A staff member at a recreation club was attacked with a machete and he and his colleagues were tied up during an armed robbery on the NSW mid-north coast, police say. Read more.

7.34am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Rumours are swirling that Johnny Depp's fiancee Amber Heard is having second thoughts about the wedding. Don't stress Amber, I bet there's thousands of women who would take your place!

7.32am LOCAL NEWS: Around 2000 people took part in a community walk across the new Omega Bridge at Gerringong on Saturday.

*Reporter Lisa Wachsmuth has the story.

7.30am TRAIN ALERT: The 07:10 Thirroul to Bondi Junction service is delayed up to 10 minutes due to a mechanical issue at Wollongong.

7.28am Have you voted for the Illawarra Sportsperson of the Year yet? Get in quick & cast your vote. More info here.

7.26am TIARA ALERT: Some clever clogs has made a gallery of Kate Middleton's entire wardrobe while she was touring the US recently. Brilliant.

7.24am TRAIN ALERT: The 06:42 Dapto to Bondi Junction service has been cancelled from Thirroul to Sutherland due to a mechanical issue.

7.22am WORLD NEWS: A Sydney mother of four facing the death penalty in Malaysia claims she was innocently carrying a bag that allegedly contained methamphetamines. Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto, 51, of Liverpool, told lawyers she was asked to carry a soft-bag containing documents from Shanghai for a US army soldier in Afghanistan. Read more.

7.20am Check out these brown sugar pecan cookies - yum!

7.18am Have you been snapped out & about in the Gong this week? Check out our gallery of social pics - you never know who you might spot!

7.16am SYDNEY: Dedicated ticket sellers at rail stations in Sydney are soon to be a thing of the past. As a growing number of commuters and transport users adopt the Opal smartcard, the state government is preparing to get rid of all dedicated sales staff. Read more.

7.14am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Is there anything Blake Lively can't do!? Her maternity style is INSANE - she always looks beautiful.

7.12am Did you get to the Bulli Foragers Markets on Sunday? Don't forget they're doing a twilight market next week from 5pm to 10pm.

7.10am Fishing for a salmon dinner? Ha, I'm funny! Here's some recipes for a delicious salmon meal. Yum!

7.08am NATIONAL: Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has distanced herself from Prime Minister Tony Abbott's assertion that Coalition MPs backgrounding against his chief of staff, Peta Credlin, are sexist. Read more.

7.06am A little thought from Estee Lauder this morning...

7.04am LOCAL NEWS: Part of Memorial Drive will close tonight for urgent bridge repair work. Get the full story here.

7.02am Good morning! We're in for a mostly sunny day today with a top of 24 degrees. There is a slight chance of a shower. All good on the roads & rail.

7am CELEB NEWS: Avatar star Zoe Saldana has given birth to twin boys.

6.58am Uni graduations kick off today! Congrats to all who are graduating from UOW this week - all that hard work has paid off.

6.56am Speaking of Christmas, have you been out hunting for Christmas lights yet? We've got a great guide to the best houses & streets here.

6.54am How's your Christmas shopping going? I've nearly finished, yippee! Only 10 sleeps until Santa comes!

6.52am Another dog funny for you this morning. Our puppy Greg is a bit like this - ugly & cute, all wrapped up in one 40kg dog.

6.50am MOVIE NEWS: The script to the upcoming James Bond film, Spectre, has been leaked online. Oops! James Bond would NOT be impressed.

6.48am Don't forget the Wiggles are coming to the WEC tomorrow. Plan your transport options now - 6000 people are expected to attend.

6.46am WORLD NEWS: Japanese PM Abe Shinzo has been re-elected in a landslide victory overnight.

6.44am NATIONAL: Rising alarm about abuse of the drug crystal methamphetamine or "ice" has prompted the Abbott government to order its chief drug advisers to make the problem their top priority. Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash announced yesterday that the government's newly rebranded Australian National Advisory Council on Alcohol and Drugs had been tasked with tackling ice as its number one order of business. (SMH)

6.42am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Angelina Jolie has gushed to US Weekly about her fantastic year, saying she was thrilled to have married "my love" Brad Pitt.

6.40am The SMH has released a guide to the best - and worst - TV shows of 2014. Are your TV tastes on the money?

6.38am Did you carol your heart out over the weekend? Carols were held in Shellharbour & Figtree. Both events ended with a massive fireworks display - check out our pics here.

6.36am SPORT: Very bad news for the Aussie cricket team - Michael Clarke's World Cup dream hangs by a thread as Australian cricket bosses digest the captain's fears that he will never play again. Awful.

6.34am CELEB NEWS: Spice Girl Mel B has been rushed to hospital by her driver after she was heard "screaming in agony".

6.32am TV NEWS: The Project's favourite son, Waleed Aly, will join Ten's weeknightly news and current affairs panel show as a permanent host next year. He will replace Charlie Pickering & Rove McManus.

6.30am LOCAL SPORT: The Hawkies had a win on Saturday night! They beat the Sydney Kings 82-77. Nice one boys!

6.28am Dreaming of a white Christmas? How about Christmas time in New York? Oh, how fab.

6.26am TV NEWS: Is anyone else DEVASTATED at the prospect of the last episode EVER of Newsroom tonight?! I can't even talk about it.

6.24am NATIONAL: Treasurer Joe Hockey is set to reveal a major budget blow-out today. Oh dear.

6.22am Looking for some inspiration in the kitchen this week? Check out this weekly meal planner - heaps of good ideas here!

6.20am A little dog funny for your Monday morning. Enjoy.

6.18am LOCAL NEWS: A Sydney man, who allegedly engaged police in a 120km/h car chase in North Wollongong while over the legal alcohol limit, was refused bail in Port Kembla Local Court on Sunday.

*Reporter Glen Humphries has the story.

6.16am CELEB GOSS ALERT: After 21 years, two children and a civil partnership, Elton John and David Furnish will marry next week, according to a British newspaper. Awww, sweet.

6.14am Have you checked out Rookie in Wollongong yet? I went there for dinner last week & it was FANTASTIC! Do yourself a favour & go in!

6.12am Were you at the Santa Claus Pub Crawl over the weekend? Looks like it was a great afternoon/night, as always. Event organiser Neil Webster hailed it as the "best crawl yet". Nice! Check out our gallery of pics here.

6.10am WORLD NEWS: A Russian military jet nearly collided with a commercial passenger plane in international airspace near southern Sweden on Friday, the Swedish authorities said. (SMH)

6.08am TIARA ALERT: If you missed this over the weekend, the royals have released some ADORABLE pics of baby Prince George. Oh he's SO cute!

6.06am And in national news, via the SMH:

*NSW consumers would receive a 10-cent refund for recycling bottles and cans under a contentious proposal to go before cabinet on Monday.

*Telstra is set to benefit from an increased role in the construction and maintenance of the National Broadband Network, as part of a new deal that sees the telco retain the value of the original $11 billion deal and build upon it.

*More than 300 ABC staff grouped in "pools" with similarly skilled colleagues will learn their fate this week when about one-third of their positions are made redundant.

6.04am Here's what's making news in your Mercury today:

*Police have confirmed a man aged between 45 and 50 years has been taken to Wollongong Hospital suffering a gunshot wound to his upper left leg.

*The number of Opal card retailers in the Illawarra has nearly doubled since August. Read more.

*If you live in a regional area like Wollongong, you're more likely to get a GP prescription for anti-depressants than if you live in a major city, according to a new report.

6.02am Let's kick off the morning with the latest weather & traffic.

WEATHER We're in for a mostly sunny day today with a top of 24 degrees. There is a slight chance of a shower.

TRAFFIC All good on our roads & for the run to Sydney.

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

6am Good morning Illawarra! Happy Monday! Your host Emma Spillett is BACK after a three-week hiatus. And oh man, did that 5.30am start hurt this morning! Anywho, stay with me this morning for all the latest news etc.


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