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

8.50am That's it from us this morning. Have a fabulous long weekend. There will be no Rush on Monday but we'll be back bright & early on Tuesday morning. See you then!

8.48am Today is Queensland Day, marking the day that Queensland separated from the colony of New South Wales in 1859.

8.42am BREAKING TV NEWS: Sylvia Jeffries has been announced as Georgie Gardner's replacement on Today.

8.40am SPORT: Maria Sharapova and Simona Halep are set to meet in the final of the French Open.

8.38am The "Bring Light To The Homeless" event will be held at North Wollongong Beach tomorrow night to bring attention to the plight of homeless people. The event will host family games, food stalls and music, before culminating in a mass vigil as attendees spell out a giant SOS on the beach in candlelight.

8.34am TIARA ALERT: Prince William has made a confession to some schoolchildren - he loves Coldplay & Linkin Park! Huh, who knew!?

8.32am BREAKING: Australian artist Guo Jian will be expelled from China over a “visa irregularity” after being detained amid a stifling security operation preventing the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

8.30am STRANGE BUT TRUE: A loaded gun has been discovered in the toy aisle of a Target in South Carolina. Good. Not worrying at all :/

8.28am SPORT: Paul Gallen has embodied NSW's desperate State of Origin crusade over the past eight years but he insists he won't be tempted to quit on a high should the Blues finally end the Queensland dynasty in 2014.

8.26am MOVIE NEWS: The Nick Cave documentary 20,000 Days On Earth opened the Sydney Film Festival on Wednesday - and it got rave reviews. Cave is described as being "funnier and more self-deprecating than expected." Get the full review here.

8.24am A little Friday funny for you - and it's dog-related! Yes!

8.22am A recent survey of over 2,100 students at Cambridge University in the UK found that almost half had been "groped, pinched or grabbed" during their time at university and that over 100 had experienced "attempted serious sexual assault". (The Guardian)

8.20am LOCAL NEWS: Supermodel Miranda Kerr's mum Therese Kerr hopes to inspire Illawarra women to be happy with their lives when she speaks at the annual Inspire Women's Conference today.

-Gemma Khaicy has the full story here.

8.18am STRANGE BUT TRUE: A prominent scientist and atheist, Richard Dawkins has claimed that fairy tales are harmful for our children because they are statistically impossible. NB Oh for goodness sake, can't kids just enjoy a little story now & then!? Sheesh!

8.16am NATIONAL: Prime Minister Tony Abbott has refused to condemn two conservative commentators engaged in a bitter public dispute with one of his most senior ministers, praising the two as his personal friends.

8.14am The Wollongong Eistedfodd is on! We've got all the results & a lovely story about a family of musicians.

8.12am RADIO NEWS: So Kyle & Jackie O lost some listeners & moved down the list in this week's latest radio ratings. Then Kyle had three days off. Sick or sulking? You be the judge...

8.10am Oh reality TV, you make my life. But really, haven't we had enough? There are some really strange reality TV shows out there - like Utopia, where people are left on an island for a year & forced to come up with their own rules etc. Wha? Sounds very Lord of the Flies to me. Check out some other weird ones here.

8.08am WORLD NEWS:  There are reports that British forensic experts are carrying out tests on material discovered near a hidden pit close to where Madeleine McCann vanished. It is believed the items are scraps of clothing. (Mamamia)

8.06am I love this sign that was posted in a town, ahead of Fatality Free Friday. Very clever. Slow down!

8.04am LOCAL NEWS: The Illawarra's National Broadband footprint is set to double with NBN Co preparing more than 20,000 premises for connection.

-Glen Humphries has the full story here.

8.02am WORLD NEWS: A three-year-old child has been filmed hanging off a fifth-floor balcony for over a minute while his mother was asleep inside the apartment in Brazil. View the terrifying video here.

8am STRANGE BUT TRUE: NASA is planning on test-launching a flying saucer for travel to Mars. Yep, a flying saucer. Go NASA!

7.58am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Lady Gaga has gone make-up free for an Instagram selfie & she looks beautiful. Click below to see the pic.

7.56am Good morning Illawarra & TGIF! We're in for a mostly cloudy day with scattered showers, heavy at times, but easing later in the day. Top of just 17 forecast. All is fine on our roads but there are some problems on the drive to Sydney. There's a three-car smash at Brighton Le Sands (Bay St @ the Grand Pde) affecting city bound traffic. Traffic is heavy through Mascot too. All fine on the trains though.

7.54am SPORT: The World Cup is coming - but if you're like me, you don't know much about it except Australia is supposed to do badly! The SMH has a great interactive guide to the Cup - check it out here.

7.50am The Phoenix Theatre is staging Ten Bells, a locally written work about living with dementia. It's on until June 21, visit the theatre's website to book.

7.48am HEALTH: Middle-aged women drink more alcohol than any other age group, according to a Queensland University of Technology researcher.

7.44am NATIONAL: Police are investigating the deaths of two Melbourne housemates who used suicide equipment provided by euthanasia advocate Philip Nitschke. Get the full story here.

7.42am So, I'm not one for advertising for big stores BUT for pet wear, I make an exception. K-Mart has a GREAT range of pet wear (including costumes!) for just $12. Run, don't walk!

7.40am CELEB GOSS ALERT: E News is reporting that Rachel McAdams & Jake Gyllenhaal were spotted having dinner together! New couple alert? Watch this space...

7.38am WORLD NEWS: An Indian minister from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling party says rape is "sometimes right, sometimes wrong", amid mounting public anger over sex attacks against women.

7.36am LOCAL NEWS: Wollongong's music scene has been bolstered by the launch of a much-needed new performance space for local bands, artists and clothing labels. The venue, named Washed Out, will officially launch on Friday on level two of The Grand Hotel on Keira Street. Check it out!

7.34am Amigos has some seriously cool happy hour deals every Friday. Check them out below! $20 margarita jugs & $5 coronas, anyone?!

7.32am We're in for a rainy weekend - what better time to whip up some winter treats? How about an apple & orange crumble tart - yum. Get the recipe here.

7.30am NATIONAL: Virtually the entire Blacktown chapter of the notorious Brothers For Life crime gang is incarcerated together in Long Bay jail where many members have daily contact with each other and junior associates, a Sydney court has heard. Very comforting.

7.28am A funny yarn from our sister paper, the Kiama Independent - should there be portaloos on the Kiama bends? Anyone that's been stuck along there in post-holiday traffic will tick YES in the poll.

7.26am Little Prince has a new cocktail menu and it looks DELISH - why not try out the Plumdog Millionaire, Apple Pie Betty or Moon River. Yum.

7.24am LOCAL NEWS: NSW opposition education spokesman Ryan Park has called for action over the number of demountable classrooms that are still in use at NSW public schools after more than a decade.

-Education reporter Kate Walsh has the full story here.

7.22am CELEB GOSS ALERT: We're still getting updates from the Kimye wedding. Today, we've got photos of Andrea Bocelli serenading the newlyweds. Will it ever end!? NB you know I love it...

7.20am This story is hilarious - why every man needs a boys' weekend away. Please!

7.18am SPORT: Israel Folau is predicting the unpredictable on Saturday night from a France outfit he's likened to himself. Twelve months since his two-try Wallabies debut against the British and Irish Lions, Folau is relishing the prospect of his first taste of French flair.

7.16am EW: A pool repairman in the US has save a drowning squirrel with CPR. Sorry, this really grosses me out. Huffington Post says aww, I say eww.

7.14am Tomato ketchup - good for you? That's what I'm hearing - apparently it reduces the risk of prostate cancer, improves sperm count, improves eye sight & cuts cholesterol. I'm not sure about this - read the whole article here, you be the judge.

7.12am NATIONAL: More than half a million young people could need emergency assistance to pay for food and shelter because of a federal government change which welfare groups warn will lead to ''catastrophe''. From January, jobseekers aged under 30 years will have to wait six months before becoming eligible for unemployment benefits.

7.10am CELEB GOSS ALERT: This makes my life - Leonardo DiCaprio was at the same party as Bruce & Brody Jenner but he refused to be filmed for their show, Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Not surprising!

7.08am Proof that Frozen is taking over the world, check out Brozen - two brothers just singing along to Frozen songs. Too funny.

7.06am TRAFFIC UPDATE - Rockdale: all lanes of the Princes Highway have re-opened in both directions after that earlier smash.

7.04am LOCAL NEWS: A Kemps Creek man has copped a $5000 fine after the over-height truck he was driving along the M1 freeway at Keiraville last October hit the University Avenue overpass.

-Court reporter Shannon Tonkin has the full report.

7.02am STRANGE BUT TRUE: Lego is set to launch a female scientist series after an online campaign. Check it out here. One small step for tiny plastic people, one huge leap for female kind!

7am MUSIC NEWS: The Country Music Awards were held in the US yesterday - and we've got all the details. Click below to see what went on.

6.58am WORLD NEWS: Hundreds of people may have been killed in a suspected Boko Haram attack on four villages in north-east Nigeria. Gunmen in military uniform struck Goshe, Attagara, Agapalwa and Aganjara in the Gwoza district of Borno state late Tuesday, razing homes, churches and mosques and killing residents who tried to flee the violence.

6.56am Good morning Illawarra & TGIF! We're in for a mostly cloudy day with scattered showers, heavy at times, but easing later in the day. Top of just 17 forecast. All is fine on our roads but there are MAJOR problems on the way to Sydney. Avoid Rockdale (Princes Hwy @ Lister Ave) after an earlier smash. Traffic is heavy through Mascot too. All fine on the trains though.

6.54am CELEB NEWS: Gisele Bundchen and hubby Tom Brady have sold their home! Dr Dre snapped up the LA mansion - for a cool $40 million. It's got eight bedrooms, nine bathrooms & seven fireplaces - and a partridge in a pear tree (okay, not really but it seemed apt.)

6.52am Chookas to the cast of Rude, Crude & Musical - a fab production on at the Wollongong City Diggers tonight & tomorrow night. Grab tix from the venue - it's got a great cast & will be lots of fun, I promise!

6.50am Happy birthday Mark Whalberg! Here's a pic of Marky Mark in his Calvin Klien undies. And a big happy b'day to the other June 6 babies.

6.48am LOCAL NEWS: Police have revealed that more items, including a .357 magnum revolver, ammunition, four 12-gauge shot rounds and two stolen jet-skis, were discovered during a raid on a Warilla property on Wednesday.

-Police reporter Dominic Geiger has the full story here.

6.46am TV NEWS: Did you know there's going to be a Breaking Bad spin-off? Yep, Better Call Saul - but will it live up to expectations? Does anyone remember the Friends & then Joey flop? Hmmmm....

6.44am NATIONAL: Crooked Labor kingpin Eddie Obeid is throwing down the gauntlet to the state's top prosecutor, saying he has legal advice he will never face criminal charges as three fresh corruption findings are made against him. ICAC found yesterday that Mr Obeid and his former political ally, Joe Tripodi, acted corruptly in relation to the Obeid family's secret business interests at Circular Quay.

6.42am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Chris Evans (Captain America) and Sandra Bullock are an item! CUTE! I love him, too adorable. Not long before they'll be Chrandra or Sandris.

6.40am MUSIC NEWS: Spiderbait is heading back out on the road. The band yesterday announced dates in August for their first national headline tour in a decade. Click here for all the details.

6.38am TV NEWS: Georgie Gardner is marking her last morning on the Today show, um, today.

6.36am TRAFFIC ALERT - Rockdale: all southbound lanes on the Princes Highway are closed due to a three-car accident at Lister Ave. Southbound motorists are being diverted via Bay Street. Two of three northbound lanes are also closed. Stay away!

6.35am Don't forget double demerit points are now in force until midnight Monday. Slow down on the road!

6.34am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Prince is very whacky - he won't allow "obstructive" rugs in his dressing room or photos of animals/faces on the walls. Okay then.

6.32am WORLD NEWS: Former pop star Gary Glitter will be charged with eight sex offences involving underage girls, the UK Crown Prosecution Service has announced. Get the full story here.

6.30am LOCAL SPORT: Battered on the scoreboard and left with bruised egos, prop Dan Hunt has declared the Dragons are preparing to make a stand. Hunt has claimed the team is simply not prepared to accept their fate as an NRL also-ran this season.

6.28am MOVIE NEWS: Beauty & the Beast is being made into a live-action movie! Cool! Any thoughts on casting? I see Katie Holmes as Belle and Russell Crowe as the Beast. Thoughts?

6.26am EW: Yes, I've created a new category of stories based mainly on this yarn - Harvard's rare-book library has confirmed that a 19th-century volume about the soul and an afterlife is indeed bound in human flesh. Yuck yuck yuck.

6.24am CELEB NEWS: The ever-funny Melissa McCarthy has revealed NO designers would dress her for the 2012 Oscars because of her size. How awful!

6.22am Don't forget the Shoalhaven winter wine festival is on this long weekend. There's some great wineries on the South Coast - don't miss out!

6.20am Dubai is making great attempts to overtake London as the most visited city worldwide. Thoughts? I'm not sure on this one, I have a very soft spot for the Brits...  

6.18am STRANGE BUT TRUE: I know, we've already had one this morning, but this one is HILARIOUS - a Japanese woman is reportedly divorcing her husband because he doesn't like the movie Frozen. NB What is it with this film!? People are OBSESSED!

6.16am LOCAL NEWS: The NSW government has long touted the safety aspects of its new Waratah trains, each fitted with 100 cameras to keep passengers safe. What it has not revealed, until now, is that none of the new trains will be used on the South Coast line.

-Glen Humphries has the full report.

6.14am SPORT:  Cronulla winger Beau Ryan has announced his retirement, effective immediately, due to an ongoing neck injury. (SMH

6.13am STRANGE BUT TRUE: Coca-Cola, those crazy kids, have created 16 caps to turn empty bottles into useful objects - think water sprayer, funnel, soap dispenser. V clever.

6.11am WORLD NEWS: Respected British TV presenter Sue Cook has said it was unfair to accuse Rolf Harris of lying in court. Get the latest on the Harris trial here.

6.09am MUSIC NEWS: Kanye West has announced his new album - via Twitter. Taking a page from Queen B's book, he announced his new album New Testament yesterday on social media.

6.07am And in national news (via the SMH):

*The public undermining of Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull and questions over his loyalty to Tony Abbott have been linked to expectations inside the Coalition that the Prime Minister is heading towards a ''mini-reshuffle'' of the ministry.

*Police know the men responsible for the cold-blooded killing of Sydney security guard Gary Allibon and have released an image of a getaway car in the hope of finally making an arrest.

*An independent analysis has confirmed searchers are looking in the right place for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight.

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

*An Illawarra man has been jailed for nine years for the vicious and unprovoked assault of a refugee at Wollongong railway station last October.

*Chief of the Defence Force and former Wollongong resident David Hurley has been announced as the new Governor of NSW.

*Figtree's Shirin Mirzaee was joyously preparing for her upcoming wedding, until her only bridesmaid was rejected entry into Australia. Get the full story here.

*Many backbenchers across the Liberal and National parties want the ban on coal seam gas activity in water catchment areas to continue permanently, Heathcote MP Lee Evans has said.

6.02am Let's check out the weather & traffic, shall we?

WEATHER We're in for a mostly cloudy day with scattered showers, heavy at times, but easing later in the day. Top of just 17 forecast. The weekend, is, well, much of the same (sorry!) - expect showers & tops of just 18 and 19. Grab those winter woolies!

TRAFFIC All is fine on the region's roads & for the run to Sydney.

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

6am Good morning Illawarra & TGIF! Happy Friday! We made it to the end of the week. Stay with your host, Emma Spillett, for all the latest news etc.

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