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8.30amThat’s it from us this morning. Have a fabulous Thursday. See you tomorrow for the TGIF edition of the Rush.
8.12amCheck out Charlie, the new Australian sea lion at Taronga Zoo!
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8.08amManagers at the Australian Taxation Office trying to use scratchies to fight sickies among their public servants this Christmas have hit a snag.A workplace trade union has put the boot into the scheme, which rewards good attendance with a chance to win scratch cards, arguing the plan discriminates against tax officials who don’t show up to work.
8.06amHave you been snapped out & about in the Illawarra? Check out our gallery of social pics here.
8.04am HSC:Nearly a third of NSW HSC students are set to receive an ATAR of 80 or more. That’s impressive!
8.02am STRANGE BUT TRUE:No words needed really.
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8amThis time next week it will be Christmas Day. That is distressing.
7.58amGood morning!We’re in for a cloudy day with a top of 24 degrees. There is a medium chance of showers & a thunderstorm this afternoon. All good on the roads & rail.
7.56am LOCAL NEWS:The “I’ll Ride With You” movement took over social media this week, a show of solidarity for Muslims who feared retribution in the wake of the Sydney siege.A team of water safety educators hopes its “I’ll Surf With You” tagline picks up as much steam. NB great pic from snapper Sylvia Liber too!
*Reporter Josh Butler has the story.
7.54am STRANGE BUT TRUE (YES!):People, I bring you wine-infused ice-cream. If you need me, I’ll be in the corner eating three pints of this stuff.
7.52am CELEB GOSS ALERT:We’re on baby bump watch here on the Rush and … yep, we can definitely see Jessica Biel’s bump.
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7.50am SPORT:Western Sydney’s frustrating Club World Cup campaign has ended with a loss on penalties to African champions ES Setif of Algeria in the playoff for fifth place.
7.48amOn dessert duty for Christmas? Try this white chocolate parfait.
7.46am SYDNEY SIEGE: PMTony Abbott has suggested that firearm laws may need to change as he said that the Martin Place gunman had a gun licence despite having a long criminal history that included being out on bail for being an accessory to murder. (SMH)
7.44amSally Fitzgibbons is in town today signing copies of her new book. She’ll be at Dymocks Wollongong from 11am.
Super excited for today’s #LiveLikeSally signs!Drop in&say Hi #Dymocks Wollongong 11am &SDS Warringah Mall at 5pm : ) pic.twitter南京夜网/2ODJrMXZUk
— Sally Fitzgibbons (@Sally_Fitz) December 17, 2014Post by kim.
7.36am LOCAL SPORT:TheHawks’ 3-12 start to the season may have tested the resolve of fans, but the faith of 11-year-old Caleb Jordan has never wavered. A lovely story from reporter Mitch Jennings here.
7.34amLooking for somewhere to holiday in 2015? Look beyond Phuket and check out these other amazing Thai islands.
7.32am SYDNEY SIEGE:Tributes have continued to pour into Martin Place for the victims of Monday’s siege.
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7.30amHave you entered your house in the Mercury’s Christmas lights competition? Get in quick – entries close Monday. Register here.
7.28am WORLD NEWS:The LA Police Department is buying 7000 body-worn cameras for its officers, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced this week. The decision is not directly related to the protests in Ferguson or NYC in the past several weeks, as the department has been testing the cameras for months. (SMH)
7.26amKeen to cook up your own bread this Christmas day? Check out this recipe for rosemary olive oil bread. Yum.
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7.24amWant to congratulate your child/mate/neighbour on their ATAR results? Leave them a message here.
7.22am LOCAL NEWS:The late Wollongong District Court judge Joe Phelan will be remembered as a brilliant legal mind and a compassionate man with a strong sense of justice.
*Reporter Louise Turk has the story.
7.20amPrince George, you have stolen my heart – look at him having a GREAT time with mum at the Winter Wonderland fair in London. #socute
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7.18am CELEB NEWS:R&B singer Ashanti hashad to take the witness stand in court, forced toanswer questions from a delusional fan who had already been convicted, in 2009, of stalking her. Read more.
7.16am NSW:More than 5300 NSW homes may be riddled with deadly Mr Fluffy asbestos insulation and the state government should demolish and buy affected properties, a parliamentary report has found.
7.14amDon’t forget the annual Gerringong street parade is on this Saturday.
7.12am TIARA ALERT:Kate Middleton wore her TRACKIES to a publicity event in the UK. I repeat, her TRACKIES. THIS IS NOT A DRILL. TRACKIES.
Post by kate.
7.10am SYDNEY SIEGE:NSW Police were right to try to negotiate with the gunman, according to a former senior police officer familiar with counter terrorism training.”There is a very strong history that negotiations work and time does solve problems,” said the former officer, who asked not to be named.
7.08am LOCAL NEWS:Vocalist Isabella Hanley truly had something to sing about yesterday, when she found out she was 10th in the state in her Higher School Certificate music course.
*Reporter Kate McIlwain has the story.
7.06amA little Christmas joke for you.
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7.04am SYDNEY:A man wearing a gas mask and shouting threats has been arrested on board a train heading into Sydney.The 44 year-old boarded the train at Newcastle and began yelling shortly before arriving at Central station.
7.02am CELEB NEWS:ComedianRussell Brand has criticised the mainstream media and Prime Minister Tony Abbott for referring to Sydney’s Lindt cafe siege as an act of terrorism. Read more.
7am STRANGE BUT TRUE:This man spent more than $150,000 to look like Kim Kardashian. I kid you not.
Post by kim.
6.58am Good morning!We’re in for a cloudy day with a top of 24 degrees. There is a medium chance of showers & a thunderstorm this afternoon. All good on the roads & rail.
6.56am LOCAL NEWS:Two long-serving Balarang Public School teachers were treated to a truck ride to mark their retirements on Wednesday.
*Get the full story here.
6.54amWant to keep the calories down this festive season? Try these easyfood swaps – goodbye potato chips, hello vegetables!
6.52am WORLD NEWS:A shocked Pakistan yesterday began burying 132 students killed in anattack on their school by seven Taliban militants.
6.50amHeading out tonight to check out the Illawarra’s best Christmas lights? Take this handy guide with you – we’ve got them all wrapped up for you.
6.48am CELEB GOSS ALERT:Things are not looking good for Spice Girl Mel B. Reports are swirling that she’s splitting with her husband & moving out of their LA home.
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6.46amIf you haven’t seen this yet, WATCH IT NOW. Quite possibly the DUMBEST response to a first question on Millionaire Hotseat EVER.
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6.44am HEALTH:Health professionals need to focus on family needs, listening and respect when dealing with end-of-life planning for patients, according to research which has revealed a gap in what health professionals and patients believe is important. Read more.
6.42amCan you believe it’s just a week until Christmas!? #notready
6.40am MUSIC NEWS:Soundwave promoter AJ Maddah has pulled off a major surprise by announcing one of the biggest names in 90s indie rock, BIlly Corgan vehicle Smashing Pumpkins, to join his touring heavy rock and punk festival in early 2015.
6.38am LOCAL NEWS:Christians and Muslimsprayed together on Wednesday, as part of a special interfaith mass in memory of the victims of the Sydney siege.
*Reporter Josh Butler has the story.
6.36am TV NEWS:Jimmy Fallon & Justin Timberlake have taken it back to the ’90s for a skit on Fallon’s show – they stayed up late at “summer camp” to sing Third Eye Blind.Nice!
Post by fallon.
6.34am NATIONAL:2014 has now been declared the “deadliest year” for migrants, with a record 4868 people dying while trying to cross treacherous oceans in 2014 – double the 2013 tally. Read more.
6.32amHave you voted for your Illawarra Sportsperson of the Year? Get in quick – register your votehere.
6.30amQuark. Freekeh. Buckwheat. No, I’m not speaking a different language – these are the foods we’ll be eating in 2015, according to the SMH.
6.28amCheck out Beyonce’s latest picture with daughter Blue Ivy. Cute!
Beyoncé’s latest pic with Blue Ivy is TOO CUTE: http://t.co/7KL9H996KNpic.twitter南京夜网/NC27GZyqLI
— E! News (@ENews) December 17, 2014The Interview. It’s New York premiere has been cancelled as theatres across the US start dropping the movie, amid fears of terrorist attacks.
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6.24am NSW:Former NRL player Craig Field has been sentenced to at least seven and a half years’ jail for the one-punch killing of a farmer at a pub in 2012.
6.22amDon’t forget the Sunset Cinema kicks off at the Wollongong Botanic Gardens on Boxing Day. Have you got your tickets!?
6.20am CELEB GOSS ALERT:Selena Gomez was spotted crying over Justin Bieber at Taylor Swift’s 25th birthday party. Oh dear. NB that was a LOT of celeb name-dropping in one sentence.
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6.18am TV NEWS:HBO appears to be borrowing from the book of Snapchat for its latestGame of Thronesteaser campaign, deleting a tantalising vision of season five released to fans after just one viewing. But of course, someone’s figured out a way around it!Check it out.
6.16am LOCAL NEWS:AnIllawarra teen who got his four-year-old niece to perform a sexual act on him under the pretence they were playing a game has avoided a full-time jail sentence.
*Court reporter Shannon Tonkin has the details.
6.14amEver seen a baby beaver? Now you have – awwww.
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6.12amYear 12 students received their HSC marks yesterday. Hope it was good news. It’s ATARs today – good luck.
6.10am WORLD NEWS:USPresident Barack Obama has opened the door to restoring full diplomatic relations with Cuba after 50 years of sanctions and embargo, announcing that the US would seek to open an embassy in the coming months and to relax economic and travel restrictions.
6.08am CELEB NEWS:7th Heaven star Stephen Collins has admitted in an interview overnight that he sexually abused three underage girls. “I did something terribly wrong”, he said.
Post by 7th.
6.06am And in national news, via the SMH:
*In the early hours of Tuesday morning, Sydney siege gunman Man Haron Monis was wide awake and agitated, the father of one hostage says.Joel Herat, 21, has told his family Monis was starting to herd the frightened hostages into separate groups inside the Lindt cafe, raising fears they would “not survive until the morning if they did not do something”. Read more.
*Prime Minister Tony Abbott has ordered an urgent inquiry into the deadly Martin Place siege as authorities faced fierce scrutiny over why the gunman was free despite the raft of serious criminal charges against him.
*ABC journalists were in tears on Wednesdayafter being told their positions could become redundant.Close to a third of more than 300 ABC staff in pools with similarly skilled colleagues were expected to learn their fate by 5pm.
6.04am Here’s what’s making news in your Mercury today:
*Anintellectually impaired resident gorged on a jar of hazelnut chocolate spread and choked to death at an Illawarra group home – just 18 months after a similar death at another home. Read more.
*There was a distinct lack of Christmas cheer at Shellharbour City Council’s final meeting of the year, which began with independent councillor Peter Moran being unceremoniously dumped as the council’s representative on the Killalea State Park Trust Board.
*Matthew Paul Wiggins, the man accused of gunning down Darko Janceski in 2012, has been committed to stand trial for murder.
6.02amLet’s kick things off with the latest weather & traffic.
WEATHERWe’re in for a cloudy day with a top of 24 degrees. There is a medium chance of showers & a thunderstorm this afternoon.
TRAFFICAll good on our roads & for the drive to Sydney.
TRAINSThere is a good service on the South Coast line.
6amGood morning Illawarra! Hope you’re having a good week – we’re on the steady slide into the weekend! Stay with me this morning for all the latest news etc.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.