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

8.30am That's it from us this morning. A slightly early finish to Rush as your host attends to other duties. Hope you enjoyed today's blog. See you tomorrow!

8.28am Kiama Public School athletics carnival has been postponed until Friday due to wind and hazards. Normal uniform today.

8.26am The Brewery is hosting free trivia tonight. Head along & test out your general knowledge/brain power!

8.24am HEALTH: A group of international scientists have examined the role of a healthy diet in delaying the onset of multiple chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. They found people who consumed a diet high in fruit, vegetables and certain grains had a lower risk of developing not just one but multiple chronic conditions.

8.22am NATIONAL: Peak-hour ferry commuters on Sydney Harbour will get a free ride next week as the maritime union takes industrial action.The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) has been in talks with the NSW government and ferry operator Harbour City Ferries for six months for a new enterprise bargaining agreement, seeking better pay and upgrades to the ferry fleet. (AAP)

8.20am STRANGE BUT TRUE: Firefighters in Bakersfield, California, had to rescue a pit bull from a tight spot. The puppy had its head stuck through the hub of an automobile wheel when its owner brought it to a Kern County fire station on Friday. Fire Department spokesman Brandon Hill says two firefighters used vegetable oil to ease the dog's head out of the hole. Ha!

8.16am SPORT: Broadcasters are battling to cash in on the resurgent Parramatta and Wests Tigers teams as they begin horse-trading games in the search for ratings.

8.14am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Even celebrities take funny travel snaps. Katy Perry took this photo in Washington DC - everyone loves a sill shot!

8.12am Legally Blonde: the Musical is on next week at the WIN Entertainment Centre! Have you booked your tickets yet? Get in quick via Ticketek.

8.10am Okay, so, many of you know I'm planning a wedding. I've just read that according to a new survey, seven out of 10 women want the traditional fairytale proposal, including their groom-to-be asking their father for permission first. I have to admit, I'm not a traditional gal but my lovely man did ask BOTH my folks for permission. Awww. Thoughts?

8.08am WORLD NEWS: President Vladimir Putin asked Russia's upper house on Tuesday to revoke the right it had granted him to order a military intervention in Ukraine in defence of Russian-speakers there. Minutes before he spoke, Kiev said pro-Russian rebels in east Ukraine had shot down a military helicopter, most likely killing all nine on board

8.06am LOCAL NEWS: Three votes against Wollongong council's controversial draft annual plan and proposed rate rise failed to stop it getting the green light at Monday night's meeting. The council approved a 6.13 per cent rate rise for 2014-15, and endorsed its draft annual budget and revenue and fee policy. Here's the full story.

8.04am CELEB NEWS: Gary Oldman, why!? He's given an expletive-filled interview defending Mel Gibson and Alec Baldwin's offensive rants, admitting that he thinks "political correctness is crap" and that people need to "get over it".

8.02am I found another cute vegetable picture. Three days in a row! YES!

8am Okay, so you walk into a sandwich bar & ask them to make you up some lunch. Then you're hit with 40 different bread options. It's enough to make you lie down on the floor & cry. Don't fret - here's a guide to getting the best bread. Go for wholegrain bread where you can.

7.58am HEALTH: Children with autism are being short changed in the NDIS, with the government's benchmark payment covering only six hours of therapy a week - less than a third of the recommended 20 hours.

7.56am Good morning! Welcome if you're just tuning in. Expect westerly winds between 45 to 65 km/h & a top of 17 degrees today. All clear on our roads & for the run to Sydney - just watch for fallen trees. Don't forget buses are replacing trains between Bomaderry and Oak Flats on the South Coast line.

7.54am NATIONAL: The Abbott government is offering Iraqi asylum seekers $6000 to leave Manus Island and Nauru. It is also offering voluntary return packages to Syrian asylum seekers, although no one has taken up the offer since 2008.

7.52am Anyone else considering this as their motto for the day?

7.50am Kiama SES has received calls to assist with more than 10 jobs since 6:30am - mostly fallen trees. Hope everyone is okay! Thanks to our SES volunteers who keep us safe.

7.48am STRANGE BUT TRUE: Inspectors discovered two skulls and other human remains hidden inside teddy bears at a Mexico City airport shipping company. And ewwwwwwwwwwwwww. NB Pretty sure I saw this on an episode of Law & Order: SVU once. (Seven News)

7.46am LOCAL NEWS: Two young girls who claim they were molested by an Illawarra school teacher disclosed the alleged abuse later that night, as they were preparing to go to bed, and swapped stories.

*Court reporter Ang Thompson has the full report here.

7.44am Sportsgirl is in trouble. Customers have slammed the retailer for using angora rabbit fur in one of its jackets. The chain released a statement yesterday, saying the bunny suits (hehe!) would be removed from shelves by October 1.

7.42am Can you believe it's been five years today since Michael Jackson died?

7.40am STRANGE BUT TRUE: A woman has been banned from Memphis Zoo after she climbed over a barrier into the lion enclosure & tried to sing to the lions & feed them cookies. Hmmmm.

7.38am Apparently trampolines on rooftops are a popular sight this morning. People, turn your tramps over - or they're going to fly in this wild weather!

7.36am LOCAL SPORT: On Tuesday, Greg Binskin was officially appointed general manager of the Wollongong Hawks, just days after new owner James Spenceley had outlined his plans for the NBL club. Binskin has been working in an acting manager role for several weeks. Check out his interview with reporter Mitch Cohen here.

7.34am I have found a picture of ... cat yoga! Yes, a cat doing yoga! Too good. Enjoy.

7.32am Power has been restored in Kiama. Endeavour Energy is currently working on the rest of the South Coast, following last night's power outages.

7.30am July is coming and you know what that means - Dry July. If you've overindulged & need a break from the booze, sign up for the month-long alcohol ban today.

7.28am BREAKING: A man has had surgery to have half of his nose re-attached after it was bitten off during an assault in Sydney's inner west, police say. Get the full report here. Yuck!

7.26am The NSW Food Authority is warning that as the temperature drops, the risk of viral gastro contamination rises. Ewww! The best way to prevent the spread of infection is to avoid food preparation when you are unwell. Good thinking, make someone else do the cooking.

7.24am The Kiama Farmers' Market is on this afternoon - and they have hot coffee! Run, don't walk to the coffee! Plus, peruse the yummy fruit & veg, preserves, nuts, condiments and more.

7.22am It's snowing! Well, not here but apparently a metre of snow has fallen at Charlotte Pass near Cooma.

7.20am SPORT: Medical records of Michael Schumacher have been offered for sale and officials are investigating the theft, his agent said, one week after the seven-times formula one champion came out of a coma. 

7.18am STRANGE BUT TRUE: US dentist Edward Gamson is suing British Airways after he booked first-class tickets to Granada in Spain, but ended up in Grenada, the Caribbean island. Ooopsie!

7.16am Artful Eating: Flavours of Wollongong is set to be launched at the Art Gallery this Friday. It's a new book of food and art, featuring recipes from local restaurants & artwork from the gallery. Cool!

*Josh Butler has the full story on the book & some of its recipes here.

7.14am TV NEWS: X Factor is coming back! Judges Redfoo, Danni Minogue, Nat Bass & Ronan Keating are returning. Guest judge Jennifer Lopez has also signed on for three episodes.

7.12am WORLD NEWS: A Christian woman freed from death row in Sudan on Monday has been detained a day later after trying to leave the country with her family. Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, sentenced to hang last month for apostasy, was released after her conviction was overturned by Khartoum’s appeals court. But Ms Ibrahim, her husband and two children were detained by security at the Khartoum airport where they sought to board a plane, Reuters reported.

7.10am Merrigong has some great school holiday creativity camps to keep the kids busy. Read below for details.

7.08am MOVIE NEWS: Sylvester Stallone is making a comeback for Rambo 5. Yep, it's true. Executives at German movie company Splendid Films have confirmed Sylvester Stallone has started work on a fifth Rambo movie.

7.06am SPORT: Lleyton Hewitt has made it through to the second round at Wimbledon. He won in four sets.

7.04am Oh good lord. I have just realised this week is Australian Bacon Week. No! Well, celebrate with some delish recipes for your favourite fatty meat. Mmm bacon *drool*.

7.02am LOCAL NEWS: Five garbage trucks will be used to spread educational messages when Shellharbour City Council's new waste contract kicks in on July 1.

*Reporter Alex Arnold has the full story here.

7am I LOVE this video of these two cats saying hi to each other. The sneaky cat is a little awkward!

6.58am Good morning! Welcome if you're just tuning in. Expect westerly winds between 45 to 65 km/h & a top of 17 degrees today. All clear on our roads & for the run to Sydney - just watch for fallen trees. Don't forget buses are replacing trains between Bomaderry and Oak Flats on the South Coast line.

6.56am Have you been following the Wollongong Eisteddfod? We've got all the results here, just in case you missed it.

6.54am STRANGE BUT TRUE: Something to consider while planning your next trip O/S - maybe don't visit the cities with the highest murder rates! Number one? Carribbean cities Basseterre, Saint Kitts and Nevis.

6.52am NATIONAL: Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has given his strongest indication that the Abbott government will allow Australia Post to increase stamp prices and introduce a three-day-a-week letter service to combat bleeding letter revenues. NB Three-day-a-week service!? But I like checking the post every day :(

6.50am RED CARPET: How cute are Jennifer Aniston and fiance Justin Theroux? The pair walked the red carpet together & they were just so adorable & loved up. Bless.

6.48am SPORT - World Cup: England & Costa Rica drew nil all this morning in their World Cup clash. Boring! But in some MUCH juicier news, Uruguay beat Italy 1-0 - and Uruguay's striker Luis Suarez has been accused of biting an Italian player! Boys, keep your teeth to yourself.

6.46am Coffee lovers, we have an event for you! The Rocks Aroma Festival is on again this year with all its coffee goodness. Mmmm. It's on Sunday, July 27.

6.44am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Kanye West was given 250 hours community service for attacking a photographer. How is he repaying his debt to society? He's teaching fashion classes at the LA Trade Technical College. Of course he is.

6.42am LOCAL NEWS: Wollongong has sweltered through some of its driest, hottest summers on record, prompting the council to consider a new plan to keep the region cool. Councillor George Takacs has called for an urban cooling strategy, looking at ways the council could help bring down the heat on scorching days. Here's the full report.

6.40am NATIONAL: Most of the Australians fighting with jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq are not dual nationals, the Abbott government has revealed, meaning it will be effectively impossible to stop them coming home. Get the full story here.

6.39am TRAFFIC ALERT - Albion Park: There is a tree over Yellow Rock Road on a dangerous corner. Be careful!

6.38am TIARA ALERT: Queen Elizabeth sat atop an Iron Throne yesterday during a Royal visit to Northern Ireland. And she looks lovely in a yellow suit.

6.36am MUSIC NEWS: Sia is losing the plot. The reluctant pop star accepted her APRA songwriting award as only she can - she got someone else to do it. Sia made her acceptance speech through a man who sat on a sofa wearing a wig, resembling her blonde bob, and mimed as the star spoke. Riiiight.

6.34am Have you heard about the Foragers Market? It's a new farmers market coming to Bulli. The first one is on July 13 and will include arts & entertainment. Cool! Diary date.

6.32am LOCAL SPORT: Dragons lock Trent Merrin is expected to make the State of Origin series victory lap at Suncorp Stadium next month, after scans yesterday cleared him of a major leg injury.

6.30am WORLD NEWS: News Corp journalists are speculating that Rebekah Brooks may be parachuted into a senior position at the company’s Australian arm, now she has been cleared of phone hacking, corruption and conspiracy charges.

6.28am STRANGE BUT TRUE: Another one from the "must be in Japan" files - the nation has introduced the first robot news reporter. Yep, the robot will be an anchor woman and retails for just $2000. As if our industry isn't in enough turmoil - now we have to compete with robots!?

6.26am Butter in your coffee. It’s the latest health fad spruiked by fans of the paleo diet, and those looking for a mental edge. And it’s available in Australia, for $8 a cup. Butter-coffee may sound a little wacky, gross even, but fans say it tastes better than a creamy latte. Ewww. That is all.

6.24am SPORT: An Indian court issued an arrest warrant against national cricket team captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Tuesday for allegedly hurting the religious sentiments of Hindus, according to local media reports.

6.22am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Megan Fox & Brian Austin Green have bought a lovely new house - once owned by Bing Crosby! Nice! The Los Felix mansion has four bedrooms, six bathrooms and cost a cool $3.35 million.

6.20am LOCAL NEWS: Wollongong City Council says it will work with Smith Street swim school owner Sharon Crisafi to "see how the school could continue to operate".

*Reporter Dominic Geiger has the full story here.

6.18am A little hump day funny for you. I love this "realistic Barbie". Yep, this girl is real!

6.16am NATIONAL: The ABC should adopt a more commercial approach and charge users to access select content on its iView online catch-up service, according to the Abbott government’s efficiency review into public broadcasting. Noo! I live for iView!

6.14am Dagwood bar is roasting! Yep, the guys have their first Sunday roast on this weekend. Yum yum yum.

6.12am STRANGE BUT TRUE: Latvian tennis star Ernests Gulbis sunk his teeth into a Wimbledon press conference on Monday when he happily answered questions on vampires, not realising that he was being quizzed for his opinions on umpires. Ha!

6.10am WORLD NEWS: Egypt's President has delivered a blow to Australian journalist Peter Greste's hopes for a quick release, insisting he will "not interfere in judicial rulings". 

6.08am MOVIE NEWS: So this makes me feel VERY old. The Lion King turns 20 today! Wowser.

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

*NSW public schools should spend government funding on tackling obesity and promoting wellness and positive psychology rather than the untested chaplaincy program, the head of Sydney’s Anglican Education Commission has argued.

*Nearly 21,000 homes in NSW were left without power and commuters faced delays after wind gusts of up to 110km/h brought down trees and power lines on Tuesday.

*The federal government has put an ambitious review of workplace laws on hold amid fears of a ferocious campaign from Labor and the union movement that is expected to revive the spectre of Workchoices.

*Gina Rinehart asked former Olympic swimming champion Grant Hackett to convince her daughter Bianca to withdraw her nomination as trustee of the family’s $5bn trust.

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

*Illawarra Coal has failed to undertake "proper consultation" with workers after the company announced 85 mostly managerial positions would be made redundant on Tuesday, the union representing science, engineering and technical professionals says.

*Pia Winberg from the University of Wollongong believes that the South Coast of NSW is in an ideal position to become a world leader in aquatic cultivation.

*The Wollongong Catholic Diocese's push to have former priest John Gerard Nestor defrocked following allegations of child sexual abuse went all the way to the Vatican and took more than 20 years, the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse heard on Tuesday.

*Destructive winds have wreaked havoc across the Illawarra, felling trees and power lines, leaving thousands of homes without power, and damaging others.

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

WEATHER Holy crap it was windy last night! And there's still more wind to come. Expect westerly winds between 45 to 65 km/h & a top of 17 degrees. Right now, it's 13 in Albion Park & Bellambi.

TRAFFIC Everything looks okay on our roads & for the drive to Sydney. Just watch for fallen trees! 

TRAINS There is track work on the South Coast line. Buses are replacing trains between Bomaderry and Oak Flats. Some buses will start from or continue to Dapto/Wollongong.

6am Good morning Illawarra & happy hump day! It's the middle of the week, yippee! Edging closer to the weekend. Did everyone survive in that crazy wind?! Stay with your host, Emma Spillett, this morning for all the latest on the wild weather! (Oh, and other stuff too!)

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