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

8.53am That's it from us this morning. Tune in tomorrow for Tuesday's edition of the Rush. Ta-ta!

8.47am Sick of soggy Vegemite sandwiches in the kids' lunchboxes? Well, click here for some lunchbox fillers that won't end up in the bottom of a school bag. Yum! 

8.44am Even some dogs are getting behind the US in the World Cup. Ha! Love this shot.

8.42am NATIONAL: A man dressed as a monk has been scamming victims out of cash in Melbourne. Police say the dodgy cleric has been approaching women in South Melbourne and the inner city area, handing out cheap jewellery or gold-coloured cards and requesting donations. When victims hand over a small amount of cash, the man becomes aggressive and asks for $50 or $100. On one occasion he’s believed to have snatched a woman’s purse when she was reluctant to donate.The offender is described as being of Asian appearance, aged in his 60s, balding and wearing a light grey robe. (AAP)

8.40am If you missed this on the weekend, have a look at this great read from writer Louise Turk on Lost Wollongong & our love of nostalgia. Really good yarn!

8.36am OMG. I have just found some pictures of ... drum roll please... cats dressed as sushi. Yes, sushi. I, just, I can't. It's too deliciously cute.

8.34am People, expect some windy weather today - we've got a strong wind warning for the coast. Maybe stay out of the ocean today...

8.32am Um, check out this amazing fish tank. Some people are too talented for their own good!

8.30am HEALTH: Scientists say they may have unravelled how chronic stress leads to heart attack and stroke by triggering overproduction of disease-fighting white blood cells which can be harmful in excess.

8.26am NATIONAL: Support for Australia's carbon pricing laws has grown as the Abbott government prepares to repeal them next month, with more people now in favour than opposed. An annual poll by the Climate Institute found the number of Australians who disagree with the laws fell to 30 per cent, down from 52 per cent in 2012 when the Coalition's attack on the carbon tax was at its peak. It also represents an 11 per cent decline in opposition from last year.

8.24am Have you been spotted out & about in the Gong? Check out our social pics - you never know who you might spot!

8.22am BREAKING: A refugee who was resettled in Nauru after being sent to the Australian immigration detention centre there has drowned along with a Nauruan citizen who attempted a rescue. 

8.18am The Dragons are set to take on the Storm at the WEC next Monday night. Tickets are still available, get in quick!

8.17am And in a World Cup update, it's USA 0 - Portugal 1 after 15 minutes.

8.16am WORLD NEWS: A SWAT team raided an upscale Montreal condo early Sunday to capture three men, police say, made a bold escape by helicopter from a Quebec jail two weeks ago. Click here for more.

8.14am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Here we go again. Justin Bieber & Selena Gomez are reportedly back on again. Are they dating, are they not!? Sigh. Over it! They've been spotted on a movie date & having dinner together.

8.12am LOCAL SPORT: A magical flick pass from centre Nathan Smith, eight minutes from full-time, sealed Illawarra's second straight Country Championship title on Saturday, edging out Newcastle 22-20 in a thriller at Tamworth.

8.10am STRANGE BUT TRUE: The world's ugliest dog has been crowned. Peanut is a victim of abuse who was burned in a fire. Awwww, that's sad.

8.08am NATIONAL: Well, this is alarming - a report has come out showing that more & more kids are starting school with delayed speech because parents are increasingly using iPhones & iPods as babysitters. Sheesh!

8.06am WORLD CUP: The US and Portugal have just kicked off. Should be a good game!

8.04am WORLD NEWS: Sunni militants captured a major border post into Syria late on Saturday, opening the way for fighters and weapons to move across the border with ease, a development that Iraqi and Western officials described yesterday as "worrisome". 

8.02am Anyone else suffering Mondayitis this morning? This post sums up my current state.

8am LOCAL NEWS: Aged care service providers in the Illawarra opened their doors to the public for the inaugural national Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) open day on Friday.

*Click here for the full story.

7.56am Good morning Illawarra! If you're just tuning in, welcome. We're in for a cloudy day with a top of just 18 degrees. All is fine on the roads. There are delays on the South Coast line. Allow plenty of extra travel time.

7.54am MOVIE NEWS: Can you believe it's been 10 years since The Notebook came out? To mark the occasion, I give you Ryan Gosling. And his ghosts of girlfriends past.

7.53am BREAKING: A man has been charged with a series of dangerous driving offences after he allegedly crashed his car into a verandah in Sydney's north-west and injured four people, including a pregnant woman and a teenage girl. 

7.51am WORLD NEWS: The jury is still out in the Rolf Harris trial. They retired late last week.

7.50am A Midsummer Nights Dream is on its way to the Phoenix Theatre. The season kicks off on July 11. Tickets available through the company's website.

7.48am SPORT: Cronulla captain Paul Gallen says it is not too late to bring in a new coach for the rest of the season, arguing that players are not giving their all because of the impression that reluctant interim mentor Peter Sharp ‘‘isn’t putting 100 per cent in’’.

7.46am STRANGE BUT TRUE: Australia's first cat cafe is set to open in Melbourne next month. A place where people & cats can sip coffee together.

7.44am MOVIE NEWS: Sex & the City fans, remain calm - Sarah Jessica Parker has confirmed the existence of a third SATC movie script! Aaaaaargh.

7.42am This child is ridiculously cute. He's just discovered his eyebrows - and he LOVES them. Oh the things that make kids laugh!

7.40am The Salvation Army is back in the box at the child sex abuse royal commission today. It's set to give evidence into its handling of allegations against its officers in NSW and Queensland. From 10am.

7.38am LOCAL NEWS: Farmborough Public School held its annual Brick Fun Day on Saturday - a tribute to all things Lego.

*Kate Walsh has the full story, including some great pics from snapper Andy Zakeli.

7.36am A little English lesson this morning: did you know a Dutch feast is one at which the host gets drunk before his/her guests do? We've got some other hilarious facts below.

7.34am NATIONAL: Self-driving cars could be mainstream in Australia within a generation, and could slash the road toll by 80 per cent, an expert says. More advanced automated features such as autonomous steering, accelerating and lane guidance and even self-parking after the driver exits the car could be available within two years, from leading manufacturers such as Audi, Toyota and Nissan.

7.33am WORLD CUP: Algeria have defeated Korea 4-2, while Belgium have downed Russia 1-0.

7.32am This story made me laugh - Daniel Radcliffe (aka Harry Potter) appeared on a US TV show where he was asked to "sort" celebrities into their ideal Hogwarts houses. No guesses for where Kanye West ended up!

7.30am Did anyone watch The Voice Kids last night? I have to admit, I missed it - but the ads have shown some SCARY talented children. Coach Delta Goodrem has shared her thoughts on the series - check it out.

7.28am SPORT: The Socceroos have held their last training session ahead of their clash with Spain. The game is on tomorrow morning (2am, June 24). Don't miss it! (Or tape it & watch it at a more palatable hour!)

7.26am Our friends at Pulse 94.1FM are telling positive stories of how people in the community have had their lives changed for the better, just by listening in. The station relies on community support and donations to stay on-air. Call 4228 8941 to help.

7.24am Have you been keeping up with the Wollongong Eistedfodd? We've got all the latest results & sections here.

7.22am NATIONAL: Welfare cuts due to come into effect next week are in limbo, with the federal government conceding it has run out of time to pass the measures through parliament. Seniors, families, youth and the unemployed will continue to receive payments as usual. However, changes to the income test and thresholds for Family Tax Benefit Part A and B, Newstart Allowance and Parenting Payments are on hold. (AAP)

7.20am LOCAL NEWS: Amorous pooches and pussy cats beware - July is national desexing month. Local vets are set to offer discount rates to animal owners wanting to desex their pets.

*Reporter Dominic Geiger has the full story here.

7.18am Okay, so I love funny animal pictures. But what about funny VEGETABLE pictures?! OMG - I've found a whole new genre of hilarious snaps. Here's one from the collection - ha, too funny, love it!

7.14am MOVIE NEWS: A new Planet of the Apes film is coming. Yep, another one. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is due in cinemas on July 9. Read a little bit about the film here.

7.12am Australian journalist Peter Greste will today learn his fate after spending six months in an Egyptian prison.

7.10am As a bird phobe, this video is truly terrifying. An owl flew into this man's house. The man, dubbed the Owl Whisperer, spent 40 minutes getting the owl back outside. Oh god, I would die. NB Language alert!

owl

7.08am Love Fleetwood Mac? Then head to TBH on June 29 to see a great Fleetwood Mac tribute band. Sounds cool! I LOVE, love, LOVE Fleetwood Mac.

7.06am LOCAL NEWS: University of Wollongong researchers have used remote cameras to discover a small but thriving population of the endangered tiger quoll in the Watagan Mountains near Cessnock.

*Click here for the full story.

7.04am Looking for some inspiration in the kitchen this week? Check out this weekly meal planner - it will save you from fish fingers & baked beans for tea!

7.02am Actress Meryl Streep is celebrating her birthday today! Happy birthday to all the other June 23 babies.

7am STRANGE BUT TRUE: A Sydney woman has been brought to heel after allegedly attacking a policeman with her stiletto shoe.The woman was at a mass brawl outside Darling Harbour's Sydney Aquarium on Saturday night. As police tried to break up the fight, a male sergeant was battered around the head with the high heel shoe, causing a deep cut. (AAP)

6.58am TRAIN ALERT: The 7:06am Port Kembla to Waterfall service is cancelled due to a mechanical issue at Wollongong. Allow PLENTY of extra travel time if you're on the South Coast line this morning.

6.56am Good morning Illawarra! If you're just tuning in, welcome. We're in for a cloudy day with a top of just 18 degrees. All is fine on the roads. There are delays on the South Coast line. Allow plenty of extra travel time.

6.54am STRANGE BUT TRUE: If you missed this late last week, this man's mugshot sent hearts aflutter across the world. Jeremy Meeks may be a crim but he's very, very pretty. Look below to see why hot prison guy went viral.

6.52am NATIONAL: Jurors in the murder trial of former Brisbane real estate agent Gerard Baden-Clay will visit the site where his wife’s body was found. The group of 12, plus three reserve jurors, will be taken to the Kholo Bridge at Anstead in Brisbane’s west today. A kayaker discovered the body of 43-year-old Allison Baden-Clay on a creek bank below the bridge on April 30, 2012. More than 50 witnesses have given evidence in the Brisbane Supreme Court during Baden-Clay’s trial, which enters its third week. The 43-year-old has pleaded not guilty to murder. (AAP)

6.50am MOVIE NEWS: Are you gagging for the new Hunger Games film? Well, here's a little preview. Check out Panem's District Heroes. Wowser! The movie is due out on November 20.

6.48am I saw this picture last week & nearly died from cuteness overload. Oh so freaking adorable. I want my dog to drive a pink sports car!

6.46am WORLD NEWS: Australia has a “phobia” about Indonesia and is to blame for the poor relationship between the two countries, strong-man presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto said during a nationally televised debate on Sunday. Ouch.

6.44am LOCAL NEWS: The excavation of a cemetery in Iran has angered Woonona's Khosrow Kouhbor, whose family and friends have been buried at the site.

*Reporter Gemma Khaicy has the full story here.

6.42am TRAIN ALERT: The 6:23am Thirroul to Port Kembla train on the South Coast Line has been cancelled due to mechanical repairs. The next all stations service is at 6.59am.

6.40am I know it's Monday morning but I thought this might come in handy for next weekend. Here's some foodspiration from around the world - best hangover foods! Handy...

6.38am CELEB NEWS: Jodhi Meares, the fashion designer and ex-wife of billionaire James Packer, has been charged with high range drink-driving following a weekend crash in Sydney's eastern suburbs. Police allege the 43-year-old's licence was already suspended when she crashed her Range Rover into three other cars before the vehicle rolled onto its side in Bellevue Hill on Saturday night. She reportedly blew a 0.181 reading.

6.36am LOCAL SPORT: The Dragons managed to beat the Titans yesterday by just one point, taking out the game 19-18.

6.34am TIARA ALERT: Prince William celebrated his 32nd birthday on Saturday. His grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, got him a lovely gift - a helicopter. Price tag? $13.6 million.

6.32am TV NEWS: Nigella Lawson's new reality cooking series The Taste has been given an absolute panning in today's SMH. Check out the full review here.

6.31am SPORT: Wimbledon kicks off tonight in the UK. How will our Aussies fare? Bernard Tomic is playing tonight.

6.30am NATIONAL: If you missed this story yesterday, Australian prisoners are being allowed access to a new social networking site to "express themselves" online. Hmmm.

6.28am MUSIC NEWS: Okay so I am OBSESSED with Coldplay's new album. Their track, A Sky Full of Stars, is AMAZE. Have you seen the video? It was filmed in the streets of Newtown, Sydney - check it out below. Oh Chris Martin...

6.26am LOCAL NEWS: Councillors are set to vote on whether to adopt plans for the Grand Pacific Walk, a shared walking and cycling track along the Illawarra coast, at the Wollongong City Council meeting tonight.

*Reporter Kate Walsh has the full story here.

6.24am Okay, so anyone who knows me knows I secretly love hairless cats. I think they're so weird - and patting them is like rubbing sandpaper! So I was SUPER excited to find some snaps of other hairless animals - hairless raccoon anyone?

6.22am WORLD NEWS: Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has called on Ukraine’s leadership and separatist rebels to begin genuine dialogue.

6.20am Don't forget we're crossing to Pulse 94.1FM every hour with the latest from the Rush.

6.18am Ha! Check out this pic of this crazy cat - freaky.

6.16am SPORT: Have you been watching the World Cup? I've watched a few games - that goal from Aussie Tim Cahill last week was AMAZING. The man is a FREAK! This morning, it's Korea v Algeria - Algeria is in the lead, 3-1.

6.14am HEALTH: The Commonwealth Treasury has entered the debate over cigarette sales, publishing previously secret information that shows sales falling since the introduction of graphic health warnings and plain packaging.The data shows 3.4 per cent fewer cigarettes were sold in 2013 than 2012.

6.12am Have you got your tickets yet for Legally Blonde: the Musical? The cast have been super busy promoting the show - they were at Stockland Shellharbour yesterday & are set to be on WIN News later this week! Wow. The show opens at the WEC on July 4 & 5. Don't miss it!

6.10am WORLD NEWS: A Malaysian police investigation into the disappearance of flight MH370 has identified captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah as the chief suspect, if human intervention is to blame.

6.08am CELEB GOSS ALERT: So little North West celebrated her first birthday over the weekend - and parents Kim Kardashian & Kanye West threw her one hell of a party. They created Kidchella - a festival with rides, food & music. Nuts!

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

*Sydney Airport has failed to meet its aircraft noise-sharing targets every year since they were set 17 years ago.

*Swimmers marked the longest night of the year at Hobart winter festival Dark Mofo’s second annual event at the Derwent River.

*Tony Abbott’s low personal standing and an ‘‘unfair’’ budget would have had the federal government swept from office in an election held last week, despite the coalition closing the gap with a four-point rally in its primary vote.

*Australians fighting with extremists in Iraq and Syria is ‘‘one of the most disturbing developments’’ in domestic security for some time, Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop says.

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

*Wollongong City Council’s tough love approach to solving its financial woes is expected to be endorsed by councillors on Monday night, when the revised 2014-15 budget is tabled.

*Wollongong City Council has secured state government funding to establish a biobank site at Puckeys Estate.

*Can Wollongong CBD residents & small bars live in harmony? Josh Butler has the full story here.

*The creation of a new bus route between Dapto and the University of Wollongong will benefit hundreds of students and staff. 

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

WEATHER We're in for a cloudy day with a top of just 18 degrees. Expect some winds this afternoon. Right now, it's 7 at Albion Park & 9 at Bellambi - chilly!

TRAFFIC All looks good on the region's roads & for the drive to Sydney.

TRAINS Buses are replacing trains between Bomaderry and Oak Flats. Some buses will start from or continue to Dapto/Wollongong.

6am Good morning Illawarra, I'm baaaack! Yep, your regular host Emma Spillett is back after a week-long hiatus - not holidays (sadly!), just filling other roles. Stay with me this morning for all the latest news that happened while you were asleep.

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