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

8.24am That's it from us this morning - I'm going to wrap it up a little early due to pressing deadlines on a weekend story! Have a wonderful weekend, enjoy the unseasonably warm weather. see you Monday!

8.22am MUSIC NEWS: The pre-sale for tickets for Roxette kicks off this morning from 10am. Don't forget they're coming to Wollongong - pretty cool.

8.20am Miley Cyrus is at it again - this time, she's taken some seriously freaky selfies in her bathroom. Weird!

8.16am The Mercury's Cartoon Competition closes on Sunday. Don't fret, there's still time to enter - we want 15-25 year-olds to produce their own cartoon that reflects a popular news topic or personality from a news story. The best entries will be printed in the paper and exhibited at the Wollongong Art Gallery.

8.14am SPORT: England and Wales Cricket Board managing director Paul Downton has given his most detailed explanation yet for the controversial decision to end the international career of the "frustrating" Kevin Pietersen. Basically? He was distracted, disinterested and disconnected from the team. Ouch. (SMH)

8.12am CELEB GOSS ALERT: This is pretty funny - the changing-faces of the Kardashian klan. Some of them are freaky!

8.10am Awww I love this. I love Fridays too little puggy.

8.08am Looking for some live music this weekend? Check out our gig guide Around The Traps for all the weekend's happenings.

8.06am It's Fleet Week in New York at the moment - did you know this famous photo came from Fleet Week? I didn't - wow!

8.04am MOVIE NEWS: Being a superhero is a lucrative business - check out how much our favourite superheroes are paid here.

8.02am NATIONAL: A QLD MP wants to make it illegal for people to use new technology to make their own guns at home. In a first of its kind, Yeerongpilly MP Carl Judge on Thursday introduced into state parliament an amendment to the Weapons Act to outlaw the use or creation of 3D printed firearms without a licence. (AAP)

8am CELEB NEWS: Canadian federal police say they hope to investigate actress Pamela Anderson's recent allegations of childhood rape, and have reached out to her for details.

7.56am Get your crimper out - we've got some seriously SICK '90s beauty looks for you. Enjoy.

7.54am The Bulli Burn is on this Sunday. Good luck to all those participating. Feel that leg burn!

7.52am Almost 1000 science and research jobs are at risk following funding cuts announced in the federal budget, according to Labor. While the CSIRO will bear the brunt of the sector's job losses, losing 500 jobs, other agencies are also slated to shed staff. Staff are set to go at the Australian National Nuclear Research and Development and the National Health and Medical Research Council.

7.50am STRANGE BUT TRUE: I've found something really, really gross - Nutella Sushi. I'm sorry - I just think this is wrong, WRONG! It's got coconut-flavoured rice but still...

7.48am TV NEWS: Modern Family fans, get ready for Mitch & Cam's wedding, yay! The episode screens this Sunday on Channel 10 from 6.30pm.

7.46am LOCAL NEWS: Shellharbour residents have been invited to share their ideas to increase arts and cultural activities in the city. Here's more from reporter Alex Arnold.

7.44am Today is also World Goth Day. My favourite goth? Wednesday Adams - she was goth before it was even cool.

7.42am BREAKING: There are reports that Sir Paul McCartney has been admitted to a hospital in Japan. He's receiving treatment for a worsening viral infection.

7.40am The Berry Celtic Festival is on tomorrow from 9am to 4pm. Plenty to enjoy, head down there for the day.

7.38am NATIONAL: Record late-autumn warmth is sending plant growth into spring-like behaviourRather than shutting down as winter approaches, many plants are flowering out of season or extending growth much later than usual, said Brett Summerell, deputy executive director of Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens. Pesky plants!

7.36am RED CARPET: The Australian Women of Style Awards were held this week - and there were some STUNNING outfits. NB can I just say - Rebecca Gibney. Wow. She always looks beautiful. The woman knows how to dress.

7.34am SPORT: The England and Wales Cricket Board has charged Lou Vincent and his former Sussex teammate Naved Arif with fixing the outcome of a county match, the governing body announced on Thursday.

7.32am LOCAL NEWS: Parents of disabled Greenacres Industries employees have vowed to support the group as it prepares to fight a high-stakes case in the Fair Work Commission. Angela Thompson has the full story here.

7.30am We've found the world's most expensive donut - it's a Krispy Kreme with Dom Perignon jelly, a 24-carat gold leaf and edible diamonds. Cost? $1682.

7.28am BREAKING WORLD NEWS: 71 people have been arrested in New York in a child porn sting, including a police chief, a rabbi and a Boy Scout leader. (SMH)

7.26am MUSIC NEWS: Poor ol' Iggy Azalea. The Aussie-born singer had some major sound issues during a live performance on US TV - in front of 11 million people. Watch the video - it ain't good. 

7.24am NATIONAL: The federal government plans to tackle a huge backlog of asylum seeker claims by introducing new laws to speed up the decision process. About 23,000 asylum seekers are living in Australia on bridging visas and awaiting determinations on their claims. Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has flagged that after July 1, he’ll introduce a bill to parliament aimed at ‘‘triaging’’ refugee claims. (AAP)

7.22am Wollongong Art Gallery presents Tania Maria Mastroianni: ‘‘The Sanctuary (of Roses, Love and Loathing)’’ tonight. The exhibition opens at 6pm.

7.20am CELEB GOSS ALERT: George Clooney's Lake Como house has been robbed. But the thief only took ... one bottle of wine. Hmmm.

7.18am LOCAL NEWS: Public schools in Illawarra electorates will lose almost $100 million in funding, according to the Teachers Federation, if the federal government's budget plans for Gonski succeed.

-Gemma Khaicy has the full story.

7.16am STRANGE BUT TRUE: Some cows in Europe have been fitted with "portholes" in their stomachs so farmers can monitor their diet. Ingenious or cruel?

7.14am KidsFest Shellharbour finishes off this weekend but there's still heaps of activities for the littlies. Visit the website here for all the events.

7.12am Speaking of sport, have you seen our new Game On column on a Saturday? It’s choc-ful of analysis, opinion pieces and the top five NRL games of the week. Check it out.

7.08am LOCAL SPORT: Merc league writers Mitch Jennings & Tim Barrow are talking NRL over on Kick-Off. Here's their latest musings.

7.06am TV NEWS: ABC managing director Mark Scott says it is likely some of the network’s secondary television stations will eventually only be available online as part of a long-term plan to cut costs. Read more here.

7.04am A little Friday funny for you - the caption really makes this!

7.02am STRANGE BUT TRUE: A man has crafted a wooden Volkswagen Beetle. Gees!

7am NATIONAL: There has been a surge in the number of Sydney residents signing up for the Opal public transport smartcard. More than 250,000 Opal cards have been registered. (SMH)

6.58am Good morning, TGIF! We're in for a partly cloudy day with a top of 24. All is clear on the region's roads & for the run to Sydney. Good service on the trains too.

6.56am LOCAL NEWS: Firefighters have renewed a plea for people to take steps to minimise the risk of house fires during winter, following a blaze that gutted a West Wollongong unit on Tuesday.

-We've got video & the full story here.

6.54am It's whale-spotting season! Grab your binoculars and head along the coastline - you're bound to see them. Check out these whales as they played off Jervis Bay yesterday.

6.52am The Glenn Miller Orchestra is set to bring back all those sentimental memories of the 40s this Sunday when they perform at the WIN Entertainment Centre. Tickets still available via Ticketek.

6.50am NATIONAL: Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne had to be smuggled into a function at the University of Sydney last night after a violent confrontation between protesters and police. (SMH)

6.48am TV NEWS: Channel 10's new morning line-up (post Wake Up) is a bit sad - Bold & the Beautiful fans will be happy though - repeats will be screened at 7.30am. Here's the full line-up.

6.46am Thinking of getting a tattoo? This might sway you otherwise - these tats show a SERIOUS commitment to all things geek.

6.44am It's Walk Safely to School day so watch out if you're on the road & around school zones this morning.

6.43am The Salvation Army's Red Shield Door Knock appeal is on this weekend. Don't forget to give if the Salvos knock on your door.

6.42am LOCAL NEWS: Wollongong High School student Brayden Kennedy has made one simple request of the Board of Studies - he wants pink paper for his Higher School Certificate exams. Find out why here - great read by reporter Gemma Khaicy.

6.40am Game of Thrones fans will LOVE this - here's what the characters would look like if they were drawn by Disney.

6.38am The Mercury has launched a campaign to keep Bulli rapist Terry John Williamson under supervision for the rest of his life. Sign our petition here.

6.36am WORLD NEWS: A keen artistic Newcastle teenager went up to shake Rolf Harris’s hand, but instead he groped her breast and her bottom, a court has heard. We've got the latest on the trial here.

6.34am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Rhianna and Beyonce reportedly get paid $100,000 each just to sit through a fashion show & make thoughtful faces at the collections. WHA? I wanna be a celebrity :(

6.32am LOCAL SPORT: Benji Marshall has been thrown in the deep end at St George Illawarra but his brilliance will shine through in time. That is the assessment of Dragons star Trent Merrin, who says Marshall can help turn around the battling NRL club.

6.30am Who knew Brad Pitt was musical? He grabbed a tambourine & played along with Bruno Mars. Check out the video below.

6.28am The Burlesque Razzle Me Dazzle Me Dinner and Show is on at the Seacliff Restaurant tonight. Bookings essential.

6.26am TV NEWS: Good Wife fans, you won't believe this - award-winning actress Julianna Margulies, has revealed she was not the first choice for the role. The producers wanted Ashley Judd & Helen Hunt. Go figure! (SMH)

6.24am STRANGE BUT TRUE: This couple had a Harry Potter-themed wedding - complete with wands, owls & sorting hats. Okay then.

6.23am Apparently today is Caps Lock day! I'M SO EXCITED!

6.22am LOCAL NEWS: An Illawarra man has been jailed for 14 years for the horrific sexual abuse of his two young stepdaughters over more than half a decade.

-Court reporter Shannon Tonkin has the full story.

6.20am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Tomorrow is the Kim Kardashian/Kanye West wedding! Here's the guest list - see who's attending & who's skipping.

6.18am Don't forget we're crossing every hour to Pulse 94.1FM with all the latest from Rush.

6.17am NATIONAL NEWS: Patients in poorer areas are already cancelling visits to the doctor in response to the $7 Medicare co-payment - which is not due to come into effect until July next year.The Australian Medical Association has confirmed anecdotal reports that some clinics have reported a sharp fall in visits. (SMH)

6.16am Check out these cupcakes - they're designed to look like roses. Beautiful. Some people are SO clever - I can't even make toast!

6.14am MOVIE NEWS: Ryan Gosling may be EXTREMELY pretty but apparently he ain't a great director. His directorial debut got booed at Cannes. Oh dear.

6.13am Looking for something to do tonight? The inaugural exhibition of richly woven, naturally dyed textures, bequeathed to Wollongong Art Gallery by local collector Nancye Dryden, opens tonight. It's on from 6pm.

6.12am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie have been accused of not handing over a promised donation to QLD's Dreamworld park. Uh-oh!

6.10am WORLD NEWS: A nationwide curfew has been imposed in Thailand from 10pm until 5am, which Australians and other visitors in the country will have to obey. Thailand's military launched a coup yesterday, three days after it initiated martial law. Read the full story here. NB Also maybe put any Thailand travel plans on hold!

6.08am MUSIC NEWS: Michael Jackson has become the first solo artist ever to land top 10 hits in five different decades - wow.

6.06am And in national news (via the SMH):

*The man who helped provide the blueprint for Joe Hockey’s austere first budget has lashed out at ‘‘narrow sectional interests’’, including his ‘‘good mate’’ David Gonski, for the hostile community response

*The stage that once hosted Elton John, Pearl Jam, David Bowie and Beatles Paul McCartney and George Harrison is to be home to about 4000 people in three towers.

*Tony Abbott has refused to rule out university fees doubling because of his government’s deregulation of the sector, as some institutions suggest the rises will be much greater due to withdrawn funding.

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

*A man accused of running an illegal drug and firearm ring from his Woonona home will remain in custody after his application for bail was rejected yesterday.

*A majority of Kiama councillors have supported a call from Cr Warren Steel to ‘‘send back’’ a council report that recommends against allowing dogs on leashes to swim in the Minnamurra River.

*Wollongong's unions, politicians and community representatives rallied together on Thursday in an effort to tally up how "the distressing and savage" federal budget measures will affect the Illawarra.

*Long-suffering Crown Street Mall retailers have again aired their frustrations about Wollongong City Council's refurbishment works, saying the project "lacks urgency" and is driving them to the brink with noise.

6.02am Let's kick off the morning with the latest weather & traffic.

WEATHER We're in for a partly cloudy day with a top of 24 degrees - if this is autumn, I want more! It's going to be a gorgeous weekend too with tops of 23 tomorrow and 22 on Sunday. Right now, it's 10 in Albion Park and 16 in Bellambi.

TRAFFIC All is clear on the region's roads - don't forget the road works kick off on Mt Ousley tomorrow. Run to Syd is good too.

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

6am Good morning and TGIF! Woohoo, here's to the weekend! Stay with your host, Emma Spillett, this morning for all the latest news etc.

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