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

8.59am That's it from us this morning! Tune in tomorrow for Thursday's edition of the Rush. Ciao.

8.54am Former Channel Nine news reader Ian Ross has passed away. RIP to one of the greats.

8.52am STRANGE BUT TRUE: An annual show will not go on for kindergarteners at one New York school because officials say the children have to spend more time preparing for their “college and career.” NB WHA? They're five! Really...

8.50am BREAKING: A 36-year-old man is in police custody over an alleged hit-and-run in Sydney’s east, which has left another man in hospital fighting for his life. Police say a man was arrested on Wednesday morning on unrelated matters and is at Chatswood Police Station being questioned about the Bronte incident. (AAP)

8.48am Jerry Seinfeld is turning the big 6-0 today. Can you believe it!? Happy birthday to all April 30 birthday babies - including Merc reporter Kate McIlwain who is celebrating a very special birthday today!

8.46am Ready, set, GO! Let's play "anywhere but here". Today, I'd rather be in Germany, driving down the "Romantic Road" with my love. Sigh.

8.44am ​NATIONAL: If you missed this yesterday, have a look at this footage of a plane's engine bursting into flames mid-air. Scary! Passengers aboard the flight were forced to make an emergency landing at Perth Domestic Airport yesterday.

8.43am The Kiama Farmers' Market is on this afternoon. Has anyone checked it out yet? It looks awesome!

8.42am People, a diary alert: Mother's Day is May 11 - do not forget!!! Start thinking gifts, breakfast in bed etc. After all, what mum doesn't deserve to be spoiled!?

8.40am LOCAL NEWS: Classes were back to normal at Bulli High School on Tuesday after the school was badly damaged by flooding during heavy rain at the end of March.

-Education reporter Kate Walsh has the full story.

8.38am I'm back!

8.29am Sorry guys - brief hiatus while I go and move my car. Talk amongst yourselves....

8.28am This one comes courtesy of reporter Glen Humphries. I love it - a contract for borrowing books. I can TOTALLY relate - my books are like my children!

8.26am STRANGE BUT TRUE: A Melbourne woman has walked in on a naked burglar who was performing a solo sex act in her home. 'Nuff said. (AAP)

8.24am YouTube has taught us that cats can do incredible things. Well, I have found, the mother of all cats. This kitty should be in the FBI or a James Bond film at the very least - seriously stealth!

8.22am LOCAL NEWS: When it comes to community-owned land, the Jones Beach and Cathedral Rocks reserves at Kiama Downs are among the jewels of the South Coast. However, the area has been plagued with multiple and regular instances of tree vandalism, and has many stairways built from beachfront homes across community land.

-Reporter Alex Arnold has the full story here.

8.20am CELEB GOSS ALERT: George Clooney's mum has spoken out about her son's engagement - and she's on board. She described his fiancee as "lovely". Damn it!

8.16am I love this travel story this morning on seeing the Mona Lisa. NB SPOILER ALERT: I don't want to sound like a Debbie Downer but I COMPLETELY agree - it's a very underwhelming experience. The picture is tiny, there's 50,000 people around you trying to get a photo and it's just, meh. But don't let me put you off visiting the Louvre - you must!

8.14am MOVIE NEWS: Reality TV producer turned God-botherer extraordinaire Mark Burnett is planning to follow up the greatest story ever told with arguably the second greatest – a remake of the biblical epic Ben-HurNB let's hope it's shorter than the original.

8.12am LOCAL SPORT: Australia's best young golfers will tee off at Wollongong Golf Club and The Links Shell Cove in July for the NSW Junior Championships.

8.10am NATIONAL: Cambodia has agreed "in principle" to resettle asylum seekers bound for Australia, after weeks of speculation as to whether the controversial deal would go ahead.

8.08am I am just FULL of jokes this morning - this pic is hilarious. NB Email me if you don't get it :)

8.06am TV GOSS: Naya Rivera has reportedly been fired from TV series Glee after an on-set feud with co-star Lea Michele. Oooo!

8.04am LOCAL NEWS: Friends, family and former colleagues will gather at Bulli's Anglican Church on Thursday to farewell one of the Illawarra's best known wine and whisky identities. Norman Case moved to the Illawarra in 1972 and died last Wednesday aged 79.

-Wine columnist Kerry Skinner has the full story.

8.02am This husky has some mad skills - potentially tap dancing skills. Anyone need a tap dancing dog?

8am NATIONAL: Five people, including two teenagers, escaped injury in a drive-by shooting in Sydney's south-west on Tuesday night that police believe may be linked to another shooting on the same night in a nearby suburb.

7.58am Don't forget the Colour Run is on this weekend in the Gong. Can't wait!

7.54am SPORT: Former NSW premier, Kristina Keneally, has resigned from her job as chief executive officer of Basketball Australia so she can spend more time with her teenage children.

7.52am Good morning Illawarra! Happy hump day. If you've just tuned in, here's the latest weather & traffic.

WEATHER We are set for a partly cloudy day with a top of just 21 degrees. The rain is set to ease to light showers this morning. The wind could pick up later today though. Right now, it's 18 in Albion Park and Bellambi - still quite warm out there!

TRAFFIC All is clear on the region's roads. Don't forget those ongoing road works at Gerringong & on the Picton Rd on-ramp. There's a truck breakdown at Mascot @ the Airport Tunnel, affecting northbound traffic. Otherwise, all sweet.

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

7.50am LOCAL NEWS: Wollongong and Lake Illawarra police have arrested a 25-year-old Barrack Heights man in relation to a string of aggravated break and enters at Scarborough, Balgownie and Kiama. He's set to front Wollongong Local Court today.

7.48am Another hump day funny for you. This ad was spotted in a store in the US - "bleach, assorted flavours". Mmm, delicious!

7.46am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Good to know celebs still get out for date nights. Brad & Ang were spotted enjoying a relaxed date night at a concert in LA.

7.44am STRANGE BUT TRUE: Men who can't commit to just one woman, move to Kenya! A law allowing men to marry as many women as they want has been signed into law by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, despite criticism from women's groups.

7.43am TRAFFIC UPDATE - Windang: all northbound lanes on Windang Rd are now open at Boronia Ave after that earlier car breakdown.

7.42am I have no words for the picture below. The cuteness of this small dog is just, I, I, I'm speechless. I need this creature in my LIFE!

7.40am LOCAL NEWS: Police believe a group of men wanted over the sexual assault of a teenage girl near Heathcote may be living in the Illawarra.

-Reporter Dominic Geiger has the full story.

7.38am Ladies and gentleman, I give you the waffogato. Keeping in the theme of weird food hybrids, this is the waffle-cross-affogato. Enjoy.

7.36am The Hotel Illawarra is hosting Disney After Dark this Thursday night. Love it!

7.34am NATIONAL: Another Canberra resident has fallen ill from death cap mushroom poisoning. An ACT Health spokeswoman confirmed the fourth case, which is unrelated to three others reported last week. ACT Health has urged people not to pick and eat wild mushrooms. (AAP)

7.32am SPORT: Donald Sterling, the longtime owner of the LA Clippers, was barred from the NBA for life and fined $US2.5 million ($A2.7 million) by the league’s commissioner, Adam Silver, on Tuesday for making racist remarks.

7.30am STRANGE BUT TRUE: Twitter has a new queen - all hail Baddie Winkle. She's 86, a grandma, has 197,000 followers and dances like a hip hop star.

7.28am MOVIE NEWS: I told you about the new Godzilla film last month. Well, now I bring you the trailer *insert people running & chaos here*

7.26am It's International Jazz Day - grab your saxophone, pop on some Ella Fitzgerald and relax.

7.25am LOCAL NEWS:The opening of the new Rose Valley Road Bridge has put the $329 million Princes Highway upgrade at Gerringong beyond the half-way point on the road to completion, according to Roads Minister Duncan Gay.

7.24am The tale of the Aussie bloke who mistook the cockpit for the toilet on a Virgin flight from Bali raises some serious questions - what should you do if you have a disruptive passenger on your flight? Better yet, what if you are said passenger?! A few mini-wines & a sleeping tablet can make people do crazy things! Read here for the low-down.

7.23am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Rumours are abounding that Kim Kardashian and Kanye West could be planning to tie the knot this week, shunning their plans for a Versailles wedding. Hmmm.

7.22am NATIONAL: Former NSW premier Nick Greiner has undergone an extremely rare operation for a man, having his left breast removed after being diagnosed with cancer. Read the full story here. 

7.20am MUSIC NEWS: Michael Buble is in town! He performed in Perth last night. Anyone got tix to the Sydney shows? I can't wait! NB new seats have just been released for the Melbourne shows.

7.18am BREAKING: A tornado has just touched down in North Carolina in the US. Emergency warnings have now been issued for Alabama and Tennessee.

7.16am Don't forget we're crossing every hour to Pulse 94.1FM with all the latest updates from the Rush.

7.14am LOCAL NEWS: Forty senior and junior dancers from the Illawarra have performed strongly in Florida this week after dancing and cheering their way to the US for competitions likened to the "Olympics for dancing".

7.12am BREAKING WORLD NEWS: An NZ youth allegedly travelled hundreds of kilometres to pick up a 12-year-old girl he met in an internet chatroomThe 18-year-old youth is now facing sexual grooming charges after he was allegedly spotted driving off with her. Police returned the child home within an hour.

7.10am A little hump day funny for you. Who doesn't love a good food pun!?

7.08am LOCAL SPORT: Port Kembla teenager John Iafolla has been named junior national champion at the Australian National Sprint Kart Championships.

7.06am There are some foods that just shouldn’t exist. Have a look at these - they are wrong, WRONG!

7.04am New York's Central Park celebrated its 156th birthday on Monday. Wow - she doesn't look a day over 150!

7.02am Next week is International Composting Awareness Week - and Wollongong Council are celebrating with some great free events. Check them out below.

7am NATIONAL NEWS: High-income families should pay to send their children to a public school, according to a new report that warns that continually increasing funding to schools over the past 25 years has done nothing to improve student achievement.

6.58am LOCAL NEWS: Wollongong charity Need A Feed is planning more food drives to help families in need after figures showed a spiralling demand for its services.

-Businesss editor Greg Ellis has the story here.

6.56am Love burgers, beer & basketball? Then head over to His Boy Elroy today - watch the US NBL play-offs with a side of meat.

6.54am Good morning Illawarra! Happy hump day. If you've just tuned in, here's the latest weather & traffic.

WEATHER We are set for a partly cloudy day with a top of just 21 degrees. The rain is set to ease to light showers this morning. The wind could pick up later today though. Right now, it's 18 in Albion Park and Bellambi - still quite warm out there!

TRAFFIC There is a car breakdown at Windang (Windang Rd @ Boronia Ave) - one northbound lane is shut. Don't forget those ongoing road works at Gerringong & on the Picton Rd on-ramp. It's a clear run to Sydney & Nowra.

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

6.52am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Well, it seems even celebs aren't immune to online dating. Guess which gorgeous singer has a Tinder profile? Cough, Katy Perry, cough.

6.50am LOCAL NEWS: Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery has joined councillors in rejecting claims the council is not being transparent in its budget plans.

"I'm sick and tired of certain members of our community claiming that council is not transparent, and that they don't know how to have any input." - Cr Janice Kershaw at Monday night's council meeting

-Glen Humphries reports here.

6.48am SPORT: Some great news for injured NRL player Alex McKinnon - reports have emerged this morning that the NRL has offered him a job for life.

6.46am MOVIE NEWS: On the eve of its glamorous opening night debut at the Cannes Film Festival, Nicole Kidman's Grace of Monaco has been dealt a blow with reports that industry heavyweight Harvey Weinstein is considering dropping the biopic from US distribution.

6.44am Love ballet? Good news, Don Quixote opens at the IPAC tonight. There is a show tonight & tomorrow. Check out reporter Josh Butler's interview with the show's artistic director.

6.42am WORLD NEWS: A FedEx employee wearing bullets draped across his chest "like Rambo" opened fire on Tuesday at a package-sorting centre outside Atlanta, wounding six people before apparently committing suicide, police and witnesses said.

6.40am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Only Miley Cyrus would have a Hollywood sign & a horse sculpture in her backyard. Sigh. Have a sneak peek below.

6.38am TIARA ALERT: Kate & Wills celebrated their third wedding anniversary yesterday. Oh, cute.

6.36am Those clever folks over at Little Prince small bar are launching a new music night, Analog, this weekend. Looks like it will be a goodie!

6.34am LOCAL NEWS: A woman has admitted speeding through a red light in Carlton and running over and killing an Albion Park couple visiting to watch the Sydney Swans play Richmond at the MCG. Read the full story here.

6.32am I aim to please with my funny animal pics, you know that. Well, this one will appeal to dog lovers & Harry Potter fans. You're welcome...

6.30am NATIONAL NEWS: Fourteen rock fishers have been swept to their deaths in the past six years along a deadly three-kilometre stretch on the NSW central coast, where one man died at the weekend and the search continues for another.

6.28am MUSIC NEWS: Rhianna has appeared on the cover of a French magazine with some, um, interesting piercings. WARNING: not for the faint-hearted.

6.26am LOCAL SPORT: NSW coach Laurie Daley's hopes of using the annual City-Country clash as a genuine State of Origin trial suffered a massive blow following the withdrawal of Trent Merrin and Josh Dugan.

6.24am TV NEWS: Jimmy Fallon is at it again - this time, he's had an epic lip sync battle with Emma Stone - and it's hilarious. Check it out below.

6.22am TRAIN ALERT: South Coast line - delays from Wollongong to Kiama.

6.21am Looking for something to do today? The Friends of Wollongong Library present morning tea with Leo Berkelouw. The current patriarch of the book selling dynasty visits Wollongong to share his love of books. 10am for 10:30am start. Cost: $12 members, $15 non-members.

6.20am In other world news, there is more severe weather on the way for the US, following tornadoes in the south.

6.17am BREAKING WORLD NEWS: An Australian company believes it may have found the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in the Bay of Bengal - 5000 kilometres from the official search area.

6.16am LOCAL NEWS: Former Focus Press staff have officially received their termination notices, putting the final nail in the coffin for more than 40 staff members sacked after the company encountered financial difficulty and was forced to sell its Wollongong facility.

-Dominic Geiger has the full report & an interview with another sacked employee here.

6.14am MOVIE NEWS: The latest installment of the Star Wars franchise has been cast - and Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill & Carrie Fisher are back!

6.12am BREAKING: Swimmer Ian Thorpe is set to leave hospital in the coming days. Check out the full report here.

6.10am TV NEWS: If you were living under a rock last night, the MKR grand final aired - and the title was taken out by the SA mums (including the one with the SUPER irritating voice aka "jess-AY"). Here's a recap if you missed it. NB Both teams served up some truly impressive dishes. I've never wanted trotters & pig's ears more than I did last night!

6.08am TIARA ALERT: Ladies, you might be in luck - looks like Prince Harry has dumped his g/f Cressida Bonas! There might still be hope for you to snag a tiara yet. Read on...

6.06am And in national news (via the SMH)

*Senior Liberals have described plans for a possible deficit tax in the budget as ‘‘electoral suicide’’.

*Private hospital elective surgery is growing at triple the rate of public surgery, the agency responsible for monitoring Australia’s health system has found.

*Documents show big upgrades to security at the Manus Island detention centre had been recommended by the commander of Operation Sovereign Borders three months before the deadly riots in February, but were not carried out.

6.04am Let's have a look at what's making news in your Mercury today:

*More jobs could be on the line after Wollongong Coal announced on Tuesday it was looking at a ‘‘range of opportunites’’ to cut costs at its Wongawilli and Russell Vale mines. Dominic Geiger reports here.

*Traffic and parking congestion will continue to plague Keiraville and Gwynneville residents after Wollongong City Council withheld funding for a crucial traffic study.

*A group calling itself Green Mile Action is fighting the proposal to build a new administration building for Skydive the Beach on the edge of Stuart Park.

*A Kiama Downs woman has confessed to fleecing more than $20,000 from the accounts of unsuspecting pensioners while working for the Westpac Bank.

6.02am If you're just rolling out of bed (or thinking about it!), you'll need the latest weather and traffic update. So...

WEATHER We are set for a partly cloudy day with a top of just 21 degrees. The rain is set to ease to light showers this morning. The wind could pick up later today though. Right now, it's 17 in Albion Park and 19 in Bellambi - still quite warm out there!

TRAFFIC All looks okay on the region's roads. Don't forget those ongoing road works at Gerringong & on the Picton Rd on-ramp. It's a clear run to Sydney & Nowra too,

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

6am Good morning Illawarra! Happy Wednesday. It's hump day - we've made it to the middle of the week, yippee! Stay with your host, Emma Spillett, this morning for all the latest news et al.

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop