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

8.30am That's it from us this morning - slightly shorter Rush as Emma attends to some important business. See you tomorrow, enjoy your Monday!

8.28am Snail v dog in an epic face-off.

8.26am NATIONAL NEWS: Discriminating attitudes towards people with a mental illness have decreased over the past decade, but many Australians still believe people with depression are dangerous, ''weak-willed'' and have themselves to blame for their condition.

8.24am WORLD NEWS: US first lady Michelle Obama is visiting China. She posted a pic on Instagram from the Great Wall yesterday.

8.22am I loved this story in yesterday's Herald - it's all about cats making millions online! Think Grumpy Cat and all those wonderful cat videos/pics I share with you. Maybe it's time to invest in a kitten!?

8.20am CELEB GOSS ALERT: How cute are Nicole Ritchie & Joel Madden? She is the only woman I know who could ROCK purple hair.

8.18am NATIONAL NEWS: Australians are seen as nothing like the caring, friendly and hospitable mob so often assumed, with an extensive new survey of recent migrants reporting high levels of ethnic or religious discrimination.

8.16am TV NEWS: Modern Family has wrapped filming for season five - and its stars partied!

8.14am So the NSW Education Department has issued a dress code for teachers. I hope we don't get one for journos! Today I'm wearing shorts - dressy shorts, mind you, but shorts all the same...

8.12am Who doesn't love a good Easter Egg hunt?! Umm, no-one because it's the best. Be part of the Merc's Easter Egg hunt for your chance to win one of five $200 chocolate hampers! All the details are here.

8.10am BREAKING NATIONAL NEWS: A new powerful cabinet committee to be overseen by PM Tony Abbott will be used to drive infrastructure projects across Australia, and particularly in NSW, the government says. Mr Abbott’s role as the sub-committee’s chair will give his office a role in the assessment of infrastructure projects and supports his goal to be known as an ‘‘infrastructure prime minister’’. Other members include Treasurer Joe Hockey, Infrastructure Minister Warren Truss and Assistant Infrastructure Minister Jamie Briggs. (AAP)

8.08am Ha, I love this. I can TOTALLY relate - I have never wanted bacon more than I did yesterday.

8.06am Looking for some inspiration in the kitchen this week? Here's a weekly meal planner - try some of these yummy dishes.

8.04am Legally Blonde is coming! MoonGlow Productions is set to stage the musical for the first time in Wollongong on July 4-5 @ the WIN Entertainment Centre. Tickets are available now via Ticketek.

8.02am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Lindsay Lohan has managed to score herself a Manhattan apartment. Wanna see inside? Okay, just click below!

8am WORLD NEWS: German customs officials intercepted a shipment of cocaine destined for the Vatican in January, weekly Bild am Sonntag reported yesterday.

7.58am MUSIC NEWS: We've heard of the flying nun but what about the singing nun? A nun on the Italian version of The Voice blew the judges away with her rendition of Alicia Keys' hit No One. Check her out here.

7.56am Good morning! Welcome if you're just tuning in! Let's have a look at the latest weather & traffic.

WEATHER We're in for a cloudy day with a top of 22 degrees. Isolated showers are likely this afternoon, along with a heavy fall & possible thunderstorm. The wind is fairly strong so be careful out there. Right now, it's 19 in Albion Park & Bellambi.

TRAFFIC All looks clear for the run to Sydney & on the region's roads.

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

7.54am Did you check out Young Frankenstein at Arcadians over the weekend? I heard it was great. If you haven't booked your tickets yet, do it - it's a very funny show.

7.52am This is the best - a competitor on the US version of Wheel of Fortune had 10 seconds to guess "a thing" for $45,000. He picked two letters & only two came up on the board. He took a stab in the dark - AND GOT IT RIGHT! Watch the amazing moment below.

7.50am Thirsty Merc are coming to town! The boys are playing at the TBH on April 17. Don't miss out!

7.48am LOCAL SPORT: Those looking for adequate superlatives to describe Brett Morris’s gravity-defying try in Saturday’s victory over the Sharks need not look further than opposing coach Peter Sharp. NB Did you see it? Pretty amazing - he flew!

7.44am CELEB NEWS: Australian actor Chris Hemsworth is a dad again – this time to twin boys. His wife, Elsa Pataky, 37, gave birth early Friday morning at Cedars Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles. Congrats guys! (SMH)

7.42am Is anyone else in the process of buying a home? It is so stressful. I'm SO over these sleepless nights, just find me somewhere to live universe!? #rantover

7.40am Our favourite baker Kate has been in the kitchen again - this time she's whipped up some Easter cupcakes. They look so gorgeous - hope they find their way into the Mercury office around Easter! Check out Kate's creations at Whisk & Sift on Facebook.

7.38am BREAKING: Nine News is reporting that an avalanche has killed two skiers at a resort used in the Sochi Winter Olympics.

7.36am Wollongong is getting yet another new eatery, yippee! The Level One - Harbourfront opens on Wednesday and the menu looks really yummy. Check it out below.

7.34am CELEB NEWS: Singer Ricki-Lee has been accused of posting an anorexia inspiration picture on Instagram. Oh dear.

7.32am BREAKING: Australia's highest profile unionist, Paul Howes, is expected to announce his resignation from the union movement today. (SMH)

7.30am Sorry about that small break, slight technical glitch!

7.24am Tickets for the final Hawks home game go on sale this morning! The boys are playing at the WEC this Saturday night - don't miss out!

7.22am LOCAL NEWS: The season may be drawing to a close but members of the Kiama Downs Surf Club are as busy as ever in their efforts to raise funds for Surf Life Saving.The club is encouraging people to get behind Boardies Day this Friday.

7.20am CELEB GOSS ALERT: James Franco & Seth Rogen have done a spoof of Kim & Kanye's Vogue cover and it's brilliant. These two really love giving it to the loved-up couple, don't they!?

7.18am A really interesting opinion piece in the SMH today on Sydney's public transport. Now, I'm not sure if writer Anne Fulwood has written this tongue-in-cheek because she gives the system a glowing review. Maybe she's never caught a train in peak hour!?

7.16am Did you watch MKR last night? I missed it so don't tell me what happened! But, in other MKR news, twin Vicki is single & looking for love. Gents, she can cook!

7.14am So kids' birthday cakes have come a LONG way since the Woman's Weekly cook book & the cakes shaped like numbers. Check out this Lego cake. Amaze.

7.12am LOCAL NEWS: A police siren sounded as 55 couples locked lips in Kiama on Sunday in a world record attempt for the ‘‘Kiss Goodbye to MS’’ campaign to find a cure for multiple sclerosis.

7.08am WORLD NEWS: Former US president Jimmy Carter has admitted he uses snail mail to evade monitoring by the National Security Agency and that he feels such surveillance methods have been abused.

7.06am TV NEWS: So, as if Jimmy Fallon couldn't get any cooler, now he's done a duet with Billy Joel. The pair took on the classic "The Lion Sleeps Tonight". Oh too good, stop it Jimmy!

7.04am We're launching a new page on April 15 called Kid’s Corner. Send in pics of your little cherubs & we’ll print them - email kidscorner@fairfaxmedia.com.au for more info.

7.03am CELEB NEWS: Is Jamie Oliver in town? Well, according to Twitter, he could be! He's just tweeted that it's an amazing day in the Southern Highlands. What!? Come down to the Gong Jamie!!!

7.02am STRANGE BUT TRUE: Nine News is reporting that an inner thigh tattoo has been found on a 1300-year-old mummy. "I love mum" perhaps? NB That was a little mummy humour for you...

7am Has anyone else checked out Three Chimneys yet? I've had dinner & brunch there in the past week and let me tell you, it is DELISH. You absolutely HAVE to go.

6.58am BREAKING SPORT NEWS: Cronulla Sharks player Todd Carney has denied any involvement in a brawl at Cronulla last night.

6.56am MUSIC NEWS: So Let it Go from the Disney film Frozen has become quite the hit. It's been played EVERYWHERE - so it's only right that someone has turned it into a club anthem. Get down on the d-floor to this little number.

6.54am Good morning! Welcome if you're just tuning in! Let's have a look at the latest weather & traffic.

WEATHER We're in for a cloudy day with a top of 22 degrees. Isolated showers are likely this afternoon, along with a heavy fall & possible thunderstorm. The wind is fairly strong so be careful out there. Right now, it's 19 in Albion Park & Bellambi.

TRAFFIC That earlier truck breakdown on Mt Ousley (@ New Mt Pleasant Rd overpass),has been cleared. All looks clear for the run to Sydney & on the region's roads.

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

6.52am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Justin Bieber has posed like James Dean for an epic selfie on his Instagram account. Perhaps he and the 50s hunk have things in common!?

6.50am LOCAL NEWS: Shellharbour Relay for Life was held over the weekend - and it looks like the event is on track to raise $100,000. Well done!

6.48am A huge congrats to our Hawks who SMASHED the Kings on Friday night. Play-offs baby! Cheers to all who went along and supported - I've been told it was a near sell-out crowd.

6.46am A fascinating story out of the NSW Supreme Court today - the court has given a chronically ill man permission to refuse medical treatment keeping him alive, granting his wish to die on his 28th birthday. Read the whole yarn here.

6.44am TV NEWS: All hail Jimmy Fallon. The Tonight Show host had Kevin Bacon on his show on Friday night - and Bacon decided to re-create the Footloose video. Too flipping good. NB He's still got it!

6.42am The Great Illawarra Walk was held over the weekend - and it had already raised more than $83,000 before people had even finished walking. Wow! Congrats to all involved.

6.40am BREAKING: Nine News is reporting that three people have been killed & 18 are still missing after a deadly mudslide in Washington in the US.

6.39am Have you entered the Merc’s footy tipping comp yet? It’s not too late to sign up - even if it’s purely for bragging rights.

6.38am CELEB GOSS ALERT: If you missed this on the weekend, Kim Kardashian & Kanye West have graced the cover of Vogue. And there's some adorable shots of baby North inside. Awww.

6.36am Arrr sleep. Something I used to really enjoy before early mornings, stress & caffeine got in the way. We all know not enough sleep is bad for us but what about too much sleep? NB I would KILL for too much sleep!

6.34am STRANGE BUT TRUE: Rescuers had to wade into ankle-deep water to help a romantic character from his place in the middle of a lake. A 12ft-high sculpture of Jane Austen’s hero Mr Darcy was removed yesterday by team members from the lake in front of the National Trust’s historic house at Lyme Park in Cheshire.

6.32am LOCAL NEWS: Sensational Sunday hit Kembla Grange yesterday - and we've got all the pics from Fashions on the Field right here.

6.30am Have you seen the "no-makeup selfie" taking over FB? It's to raise awareness & money for cancer. Post your make-up free face ASAP. NB I haven't done it yet - I'm waiting until I get my overgrown eyebrows waxed!

6.28am Did anyone else see the storm brewing overhead last night? There was quite the lightening show over the Illawarra. Snapper Sylvia Liber took this amazing shot over Shellharbour Harbour.

6.26am MUSIC NEWS: Lady Gaga has released her new single G.U.Y (Girl Under You) and it's pretty cool. It's 12 minutes long but has synchronised swimmers & lots of crazy outfits. Enjoy.

6.24am LOCAL NEWS: More than 100 friends and family members paid tribute to Australian actress & Wombarra resident Wendy Hughes at a memorial service at Sydney Theatre Company on Sunday afternoon.

6.22am Don't forget we're crossing every hour to Pulse 94.1FM with all the latest from the Rush.

6.20am Homeland actor James Rebhorn has died, aged 65 after a long battle with melanoma.

6.18am SPORT: Did anyone watch the 20/20 last night? Glenn Maxwell was absolutely SMASHING it. The Aussies are still behind the eight-ball but it was great to watch.

6.16am NATIONAL NEWS: Air crash investigators failed to find out three years ago why a plane associated with the company involved in Saturday's deadly Caboolture skydiving crash conducted a forced landing on a gravel road, leaving two skydivers severely injured.

6.15am LOCAL NEWS: Illawarra Multicultural Services marked Harmony Day on Saturday and our photographer Sylvia Liber got some STUNNING pics. Check them out here.

6.14am STRANGE BUT TRUE: A Canadian woman has managed to convince an entire town that she was pregnant with quintuplets. Turns out ... not so much.

6.13am Let's kick the morning off properly with a good ol' hilarious animal pic. This cat is great - enjoy.

6.12am WORLD NEWS: The sister of L'Wren Scott has been barred from attending the private wake and funeral of Mick Jagger's long-time girlfriend this week because the two women stopped speaking six years ago.

6.10am BREAKING: Nine News is reporting that Cardinal George Pell will take the stand at the royal commission inquiry today.

6.08am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Trouble in paradise for Brangelina? Apparently Brad was out partying until 3am, leaving Ang at home with the kids. Uh-oh...

6.06am Let's check out the national & global headlines, courtesy of the SMH:

*A French satellite has revealed a new sighting of objects in the Indian Ocean, further raising hopes of finding the missing flight MH370.

*Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has defended PNG’s moves to end a judicial inquiry into human rights inside the Manus Island detention centre.

*The latest increase to age pension opens up the widest gap yet between the single pension and the single Newstart unemployment allowance.

*Television executive John Stephens says powerful prescription drugs were clouding his judgment when he signed an agreement to jump ship from Channel Seven to Channel Ten. 

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

*Wollongong is gradually embracing the idea of an evening economy; a process Wollongong City Council hopes will be sped up and supported by its new cultural plan.

*An Oak Flats fisherman is calling on people to be wary of what appears, anecdotally at least, to be an increase in numbers of blue-ringed or blue-lined octopus in Lake Illawarra.

*Plans to ban plastic bags from Illawarra stores have been shut down by supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths, who have rejected Wollongong City Council's requests to have the bags removed.

*The relocation of the Shellharbour Village Library to Shell Cove will be a major loss for the village, with the town's elderly residents feeling the impact most according to Shellharbour City Councillor Kellie Marsh.

6.02am Let's have a little look at the latest weather & traffic for the morning.

WEATHER We're in for a cloudy day with a top of 22 degrees. Isolated showers are likely this afternoon, along with a heavy fall & possible thunderstorm. The wind is fairly strong so be careful out there. Right now, it's 19 in Albion Park & Bellambi.

TRAFFIC There is a truck breakdown on Mt Ousley (@ New Mt Pleasant Rd overpass), which has closed one northbound lane. Take it easy around there. Otherwise all looks clear for the run to Sydney & on the region's roads.

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

6am Good morning! Happy Monday - welcome to the start of another working week. It's a bit windy out there, isn't it!? Snuggle under the covers & stay with us this morning for all the latest news.

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