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

8.48am That's it from us this morning. Keep an eye on the Mercury website for all the latest on the flooding & road closures. Have a great day!

8.46am Travelling overseas, especially to European countries, inevitably brings worry about pick pockets. Here's some new scams to look out for...

8.41am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Speaking of the Kardashians, more shots have emerged from Kim & Kanye's Vogue shoot - and they're pretty stunning.

8.38am LOCAL SPORT: There was no chest-beating statement with Sunday night's "free hit" in Perth, but it doesn't mean the Wollongong Hawks won't take a far more defiant stance in this Friday's opening game of the semi-final series. Don't forget to grab your tickets for Sunday's game at the WEC.

8.36am TECH TALK: NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell has backed the right of schools to use fingerprint scanners to track whether kids are skipping class. Several public schools are using hi-tech scanners to record when students enter and leave school across the state. NB Thoughts?

8.34am CELEB GOSS ALERT: E News has all the dirt on an intruder who broke into the Kardashian home. Creepy!

8.32am BREAKING NATIONAL NEWS: A woman is dead and a man has life-threatening injuries after a suspected stabbing in a southern Brisbane suburb. Police were called to an address in Upper Mount Gravatt after midnight, where a woman had suffered fatal injuries. A man has been taken to the Princess Alexandra Hospital with life-threatening injuries. (AAP)

8.30am As many of you know, I am planning a wedding. We've been talking about the honeymoon and thinking maybe two weeks would be nice. Well, this couple puts us to SHAME - they've set off on an epic 675-day honeymoon. WHAT!?

8.28am MUSIC NEWS: The Dandy Warhols are heading down under! Ticketek members can grab their seats today - watch this space for general release tix.

8.26am LOCAL NEWS: Albion Park dancer Ryan Gonzalez has made it big - he's scored a coveted spot in Baz Luhrman's upcoming musical Strictly Ballroom. Great to see a local guy doing so well on the professional theatre circuit. On ya Ryan!

8.24am Arrr the tattoo. So permanent, yet often so ill thought-out. If you've had a tattoo fail, don't fret - celebs have too. Check out these dodgy tattoos - oh so bad!

8.22am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Emma Stone has arrived in Sydney - but her outfit copped a beating. Aw, I think she looks cute.

8.19am TV NEWS: Gywneth Paltrow returned to Glee last week - and it looks like she had a ball. She posted this pic on Instagram with co-stars Lea Michele & Dianna Agron.

8.17am Ever felt like you couldn't master a basic life skill? Don't sweat it - penguins sometimes struggle with life too! This video is just hilarious.

8.15am NATIONAL NEWS: Australia's highest profile unionist, Paul Howes, has broken ranks with his own union and now supports Labor and unions severing their historic link.

8.13am STRANGE BUT (MAYBE) TRUTH: Rumours are flying that the heavens sent a message during the Dragons game on Saturday night. A mysterious Red V apparently appeared over the field - what do you think!? Divine intervention or excellent use of Photoshop?

8.11am Designer desserts. It's the new big craze in the US. How about the Cronut - a croissant/donut. OMG. Or the Townie - brownie + tart. I officially love hybrid desserts!

8.09am LOCAL NEWS: A teen accused of dousing a woman in fire accelerant in front of an open fire at Albion Park Rail has pleaded guilty to the attack in Wollongong District Court.

8.05am WEATHER/ROADS UPDATE:

*Stop/slow traffic conditions have now been lifted on the Princes Highway near Crooked River Crossing @ Gerringong.

*Flooding continues to affect a number of roads in the Illawarra including:

-The Princes Highway remains closed at Albert Street in Berry. Motorist are diverting via Prince Alfred Street.

-The Illawarra Highway remains closed between the Princes Highway and Tongarra Road @ APR. Motorists are diverting via Tongarra Road.

*The South Coast Line remains partially closed in both directions between Wollongong and Port Kembla due to flooding. Buses are replacing trains between these stations.

8.03am The US first lady Michelle Obama & her girls have been in China - and they look lovely.

7.58am Good morning! If you're just tuning in, welcome to a soggy Tuesday. Here's the latest weather & traffic updates.

WEATHER Well, the good news is the rain will ease today but there is the chance of a storm this afternoon. We're headed for a top of just 21 degrees. We had nearly 130mm of rain yesterday, far out!

TRAFFIC Watch out for flooding @ Gerringong (Princes Hwy & Crooked River Crossing), on the Illawarra Hwy @ Albion Park Rail & near Albert St in Berry. Otherwise, all is clear around town & for the run to Syd.

TRAINS The South Coast Line is partially closed between Wollongong and Port Kembla due to flooding. Buses are replacing trains in both directions. Passengers are also advised to allow additional travel time due to urgent equipment repairs at Berry and earlier flooding at Oak Flats and Bulli.

7.56am Sorry about that break - slight technical glitch!

7.52am LOCAL NEWS: Accused murderer Michelle Sharon Proud has taken the stand in her Supreme Court trial to reject claims she helped kill Wollongong solicitor Katie Foreman, as the Crown closed its case after more than five weeks of evidence from dozens of witnesses.

7.50am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Justin Timberlake & Jessica Biel celebrated Biel's birthday with a trip to Barbados. Sigh. I want to be a celeb!

7.48am MOVIE NEWS: Can you believe today marks 30 years since The Breakfast Club hit cinemas? Molly Ringwald, Emilio Estevez, that song at the end ... too good. Relieve that awesome ending right now.

7.46am NATIONAL NEWS: Attorney-General George Brandis has defended the right of Australians to be ''bigots''. Speaking in the Senate on Monday, Senator Brandis made the case for controversial changes to race hate laws.

7.44am Apparently it's Meat Free Week. Damn it, shouldn't have eaten all that ham/pancetta last night.

7.42am *cute animal alert* - you know I love dogs/cats/pandas pics but how about joeys?! This shot from the Huffington Post is amazing - this joey is clearly saying: "get out of my face."

7.40am STRANGE BUT TRUE: This was big news nationally last night - there are concerns over cancer causing dyes in clothing, particularly jeans.

7.38am LOCAL NEWS: Wollongong councillors have rejected a NSW government plan to hand over millions of dollars in Lake Illawarra infrastructure and management costs unless it guarantees more than $22 million in funding over the next 10 years.

7.36am A little foodie joke for your Tuesday morning - haloumi lovers will appreciate this. NB How good is haloumi!?

7.34am BREAKING: Craig Thompson is set to be sentenced today for fraud offences.

7.32am I've heard of fans stocking up on merch to show their love for a TV show but this is INSANE. Check out this fan's tribute to Breaking Bad - that's pretty damn permanent!

7.30am NATIONAL NEWS: Motorists who drive less and stay off the road in peak hour would pay less in fuel taxes and registration fees, under proposals put forward by motoring groups. (SMH)

7.26am Have you entered the Merc’s footy tipping comp? It’s not too late to sign up - even if it’s purely for bragging rights.

7.24am WORLD NEWS: At least 98 people died when a boat capsized at the weekend on Lake Albert, which lies between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said Monday.

7.20am Don't forget we're crossing every hour to Pulse 94.1FM with all the latest news from the Rush.

7.18am MOVIE NEWS: Love X-Men? Love Jennifer Lawrence? Then you'll LOVE the trailer for the latest X-Men film. Check it out below.

7.16am SPORT: Newcastle's third straight loss took a back seat to concern over the health of Knights back-rower Alex McKinnon, who left the field on a stretcher, after Melbourne Storm won a see-sawing contest 28-20 at AAMI Park on Monday night.

7.13am BREAKING: Bulli High School will be closed today due to flooding.

7.12am TV NEWS: The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon has proven SO popular with Aussie audiences that ABC has decided to screen it, yay! It will be on weeknights from 7.30pm.

7.11am LOCAL NEWS: Wollongong ratepayers are forking out $5.2 million a year to run the city’s nine public pools, while the number of swimmers has dropped 17 per cent in the past seven years.

7.10am There's been so much hard news this morning, let's just dial it back a bit & give you something warm and fluffy to enjoy - this dog. Look at its little face, awwwww.

7.08am NATIONAL NEWS: One of three asylum seekers claiming Australian border protection officers deliberately burned their hands, during a controversial Operation Sovereign Borders turn back, has spoken out about the ordeal. Read the full story here.

7.06am TV NEWS: The Girls season 3 finale aired on HBO last night. Have you been watching? I LOVE it - it's much better than season 2.

7.04am It's time for today's edition of "anywhere but here". Given the wet weather, I decided to stick with a watery theme - I'd rather be at Niagra Falls in the sunshine riding on the Maid of the Mist boat. Sigh....

7.02am Proving animals are WAY smarter than we think, this is a picture of an elephant painting ... an elephant. And it's pretty good too, much better than I could do! Yes, I just admitted that an elephant has greater artistic ability than me.

7am LOCAL NEWS: Jurors in the trial of a Dapto Medical Centre GP, accused of sexually assaulting his patient, heard closing submissions in Wollongong District Court on Monday.

6.58am STRANGE BUT (HOPEFULLY) TRUE: An ATM-like device is expected to soon start dispensing ... cupcakes. US cupcake maker Sprinkles has created the ATM, dispensing cupcakes 24/7. Oh dear god, let it be true.

6.56am WEATHER UPDATE:

*The Illawarra Highway is closed in both directions between the Princes Highway and Tongarra Road at Albion Park Rail. Motorists are advised to use Tongarra Road as an alternative route. 

*There are stop/slow traffic conditions in place on the Princes Highway near Crooked River Crossing at Gerringong.

6.55am NATIONAL NEWS: Home ownership is beyond the reach of an estimated 1.5 million Australians because the growth in house prices has outstripped the rise in minimum wage more than twofold, unions say.

6.54am Love poetry? Well, make sure you get down to the poetry slam at Studio 19 in the Crown Chambers this Thursday night. NB I've always wanted to go to a poetry slam, sounds cool!

6.52am Good morning! If you're just tuning in, welcome to a soggy Tuesday. Here's the latest weather & traffic updates.

WEATHER Well, the good news is the rain will ease today but there is the chance of a storm this afternoon. We're headed for a top of just 21 degrees. We had nearly 130mm of rain yesterday, far out!

TRAFFIC Watch out for flooding @ Gerringong (Princes Hwy & Crooked River Crossing), on the Illawarra Hwy @ Albion Park Rail & near Albert St in Berry. Otherwise, all is clear around town & for the run to Syd.

TRAINS The South Coast Line is partially closed between Wollongong and Port Kembla due to flooding. Buses are replacing trains in both directions. Passengers are also advised to allow additional travel time due to urgent equipment repairs at Berry and earlier flooding at Oak Flats and Bulli.

6.50am Congrats to all involved in the MS mega-swim at URAC over the weekend. Despite the wet weather, swimmers raised more than $30,000. Well done!

6.48am So yesterday I mentioned some housing dramas ie. we couldn't find a house - but guess what!? WE GOT ONE! Yippee. Hello home owners, hello debt!

6.46am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Angelina Jolie & designer Stella McCartney have teamed up to create a children's clothing collection. Wow! Can't wait to see that one.

6.44am I love this story in the SMH's Good Food guide about eatery Lentil as Anything (great name!) opening in Newtown. It's a pay-what-you-think-your-meal-is-worth joint, which sees millionaires eating next to homeless people. Great concept - grab a plate!

6.43am MUSIC NEWS: Kate Nash fans, rejoice! Rumours are swelling that the singer has booked her first shows in 35 years. No news on if she's coming to Aus yet so keep your fingers crossed.

6.41am LOCAL NEWS: A female paramedic has been viciously bashed at Barrack Heights by a man who health authorities said should not be left alone with females - information that was not passed on to the NSW Ambulance Service.

6.39am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Madonna has released a skincare line - but people ain't happy about it. Check out Hoopla's Wendy Harmer's reaction below.

6.37am WORLD NEWS: Authorities have a total of 108 names of people reported missing or unaccounted for after a landslide in the northwestern US state of Washington, a local emergency official said Monday.

6.35am Keen to try some Ethopian cuisine? Well, you're in luck - Wild Rumpus has organised a cooking course on April 5.

6.33am WEATHER - watch out for flooding @ Swamp Road, Jamberoo & part of the main road going in and out of Jamberoo, Fern & Belinda St in Gerringong, Albion Park Rail - Illawarra Hwy between Princes Hwy and Tongarra Rd.

6.32am The Merc is 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.

6.30am TV NEWS: Hundreds of people turned out to gawk at The Block apartments over the weekend. The renovated units are set to go under the hammer on April 8 & results screened on April 9.

6.28am Dog portraits. Yep, it's a thing. You take your dog in for a photo session including styling, backdrop & props. Wow, some people REALLY love their pets.

6.26am NATIONAL NEWS: Cardinal George Pell faced angry protesters at yesterday's royal commission inquiry. He was grilled for nearly five hours about why he had not settled with abuse victim John Ellis.

6.24am BREAKING: June G7 summit to be held in Brussels, instead of Russia.

6.22am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Lady Gaga rarely wears pants onstage - turns out she doesn't wear them in her relationship either! She's made some worrying remarks about women being "submissive."

6.20am WORLD NEWS: The Oscar Pistorius trial has continued - a week before her violent death, Reeva Steenkamp was on the arm of Pistorius, smiling as the cameras focused on South Africa’s hottest new couple. But soon after they left the sports awards event on February 7, she sent him a now-chilling message: “I can’t be attacked by outsiders for dating you AND be attacked by you, the one person I deserve protection from.”

6.18am MUSIC NEWS: Rapper Nick Cannon (married to Mariah Carey) has gone white face. Yep. White. What do you think - offensive or just odd?

6.16am LOCAL NEWS: Cordeaux Heights parents John and Margaret Bilboe are concerned that patients with disabilities are falling through the cracks in the hospital system. NB Great read from reporter Lisa Wachsmuth - check it out here.

6.14am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Other big news yesterday - Mila Kunis & Ashton Kutcher are reportedly expecting their first child together. Yay!

6.12am BREAKING WORLD NEWS: Channel Nine is reporting that the G7 has cancelled its Russian summit in Sochi. Ouch.

6.10am TV NEWS: If you missed this big news yesterday, it has been revealed that MKR "besties" Carly & Tresne are actually married! They had a commitment ceremony in 2012. Aww bless.

6.09am BREAKING WORLD NEWS: Malaysia Airlines has told families: "we deeply regret that we have to assume beyond any reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost." The SMH will have regular updates this morning - get all the latest here. 

6.07am Let's check out the national/world headlines, via the SMH:

*ICAC has heard Arthur Sinodinos was warned by top public servants to be careful of Obeid-linked company AWH because ‘‘they may be dishonest’’.

*Wild weather rocked Sydney on Monday and left one man drowned, two struck by lightning and at least six people trapped in their cars on flooded streets.

*Premier Barry O’Farrell says double-decker trains should not have been introduced into Sydney, repudiating much of the past 40 years of rail planning in the city.

*An Australian navy ship and aircraft from the US, Japan and Australia have scrambled to assist in the recovery of two objects that may hold clues to the fate of the missing flight MH370.

6.05am Here's what's making news in your Mercury today:

*The State Emergency Service undertook at least 15 flood rescues in the Illawarra on Monday night as heavy rain swept through the region, causing flash flooding. 

*A 25-year-old Woonona woman has been busted topless while shopping for groceries at a Koonawarra supermarket.

*The Australian Red Cross Blood Service hopes that Wollongong's new state-of-the-art blood donor centre will get people's generosity flowing.

*The NSW government's new dress code for public school teachers was "obvious" and already expected of teachers, according to Coniston Public School teacher Elizabeth Heritage.

6.03am If you're just waking up ... go back to sleep, it's awful out there! Let's check the latest weather & traffic.

WEATHER Well, the good news is the rain will ease today but there is the chance of a storm this afternoon. There could be some fog around this morning & we're headed for a top of just 21 degrees.

TRAFFIC There is some flooding @ Gerringong (Princes Hwy & Crooked River Crossing) affecting northbound traffic. There's also some flooding on the Illawarra Hwy @ Albion Park Rail. Otherwise, all is clear around town & for the run to Syd.

TRAINS The South Coast Line is partially closed between Wollongong and Port Kembla due to flooding at Port Kembla. Buses are replacing trains in both directions. Additionally, passengers on the South Coast Line are advised to allow additional travel time due to urgent equipment repairs at Berry and earlier flooding at Oak Flats and Bulli.

6am Good morning and welcome to a very soggy Tuesday! Extremely wet overnight, didn't that rain pound down!?

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