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

8.30am That's it from us this morning. A slightly scaled-back morning rush as your host attends to other duties. Enjoy your weekend, stay warm! See you next week.

8.28am SPORT - World Cup: Belgium has won its Group H match. They will now play the US.

8.26am The Eurogliders are coming to Wollongong! They're performing at Towradgi Beach Hotel on August 1. Check out our interview with the group.

8.24am MUSIC NEWS: Robin Thicke has turned into a creepy, creepy stalker. In his new video Get Her Back, he sings shirtless, feigns drowning in a tank of blood-stained water, cavorts with a naked woman who resembles his ex-wife Paula Patton, and cries openly. Good lord. Check it out.

8.22am WORLD NEWS: Peter Rodger, the father of Isla Vista gunman Elliot Rodger, told journalist Barbara Walters in his first interview since the rampage that he didn't think his son could "hurt a flea" and that he has been living a "reverse nightmare" for the last month.

8.20am MOVIE NEWS: The trailer for the latest Hunger Games film has been revealed - and it looks GOOD! Can't wait! Mockingjay Part 1 is due out on November 21. The final film is due out November next year. Here's the trailer!

8.18am Anyone else feeling this for a Friday?

8.16am NATIONAL: The federal government has pledged $140 million to a global education fund, headed up by former PM Julia Gillard. The Global Partnership for Education helps millions of children in about 60 developing countries go to school. Announcing the four years of funding today, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said education was a key pillar of the government’s new foreign aid policy framework. (AAP)

8.14am LOCAL NEWS: Tuesday night’s wild winds blew off a large concrete sheet from a building in the CBD, almost hitting pedestrians.

*Glen Humphries has the full report here.

8.13am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Jennifer Lopez has announced that she still believes in marriage, despite getting divorced three times. Yep, three. 

8.11am Jess Allen is playing at Jamberoo Pub this Sunday from 1pm to 4pm.

8.06am Happy National Chocolate Pudding Day!

8.04am LOCAL SPORT: Mark Offerdahl has yet to notch an NRL appearance but the Illawarra Cutters recruit already knows what it's like to stare down the likes of Cameron Smith and Jarryd Hayne. The 26-year-old was part of the US team that reached the quarter-final stage.

8.02am NATIONAL: Cleaners of government buildings will be spared a 20 per cent pay cut after the Abbott government backed down on an element of its red tape bonfire. Yesterday, the government agreed to retain guidelines that ensure its cleaners get paid a minimum $22.02 an hour.

8am STRANGE BUT TRUE: A Luis Suarez Adidas billboard has become a tourist attraction in Rio. You guessed it - it looks like he's biting something!

7.58am Good morning Illawarra! Welcome if you're just tuning in. Today will be partly cloudy with a top of 20. That earlier five-car accident at Sandy Point (Heathcote Rd @ St Georges Cres), has now closed the road in both directions. Traffic is REAL bad. All is good on the trains though!

7.56am MOVIE NEWS: We've found the most expensive movie ever made! Want to take a guess? Not Avatar. It's Pirates of the Carribbean: At World's End. It came in at a cool $369 million. Holy crap!

7.54am And the award for grossest ice-cream flavour goes to ... "pretzel infused ice-cream with clusters of potato chips, pretzels, crackers & mini M&Ms." Ew!

7.52am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Hollywood star Anne Hathaway has relisted her Brooklyn apartmentwith a revised asking price of $US4.25 million ($4.51 million), having only bought it 18 months ago. The apartment, overlooking the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan skyline, was first listed last September for $US4.5 million, but was taken off the market, due to a lack of takers.

7.50am STRANGE BUT TRUE: A zoo in Switzerland is facing outrage from animal rights groups after it not only killed a healthy bear cub but now plans to stuff and display it to teach children that “nature can be cruel." Um, what!?

7.48am LOCAL NEWS: University of Wollongong researchers will see Kiama through the eyes of people with dementia as part of a pilot project that will eventually be rolled out in communities across Australia.

*Health reporter Lisa Waschmuth has the full story here.

7.46am Gina Rinehart has (yet again!) topped the BRW Rich List with wealth of $20.01 billion. Wow! What would it be like to have that much money?!

7.44am WORLD NEWS: Rebekah Brooks, the former editor of Rupert Murdoch's News of the World and sister paper The Sun, has said she was vindicated by a jury's decision to acquit her as she spoke publicly for the first time since the verdicts.

7.42am The Continuing with Pastels workshop with Elspeth McComb is on tomorrow at Wollongong Art Gallery. 12pm-4pm. $60.

7.40am NATIONAL: A number of parents have pulled their children out of Palmerston Primary School in Canberra, saying that their complaints about serious bullying have been "swept under the carpet". The complaints, dating back to 2009, include allegations that may constitute student-to-student sexual harassment. 

7.38am Check out this great pic of Wollongong Harbour this morning! So still!

7.36am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Keira Knightley can sing! She sings in her new film Begin Again - and she's got a good voice! Listen & see what you think.

7.34am Have you been keeping up with the Wollongong Eistedfodd? We've moved onto the speech & drama sections. Check out the latest winners & some cute pics here.

7.32am STRANGE BUT TRUE: As a journalist, I'm all about learning new words. Here's one I found today: "Columbusing". A term for when white people claim to have discovered things. Ha!

7.30am Looking for something to keep the kidlets entertained these school holidays? Well, there is HEAPS on. From workshops at Wollongong Art Gallery to treasure hunts at the Botanic Gardens. Click below for the full list.

7.28am A lot has been said about gluten free eating over the past few days but some people are genuinely celliac & need special recipes. Don't fret - here's some yummy gluten-free baking recipes. You can make your cake & eat it too!

7.26am Roo Theatre is calling for shows for its 2015 season. They’re looking for big-name musicals, operas, classic drama, Australian works, Shakespeare, comedies and pantomimes. Email your suggestions to josif@roo-theatre.com.au by Monday.

7.24am MUSIC NEWS: Adam Lambert made his debut as the new frontman for Queen in Chicago last night & people loved it! The guys are heading down under in September.

7.22am LOCAL NEWS: A peloton of brightly coloured bicycles will be gliding along the roads and cycleways of the Illawarra this week, with hundreds of new bikes gifted to eager teenagers on Thursday.

*Reporter Joshua Butler has the full story here.

7.20am NATIONAL: A man has been charged with biting off the nose of a Hells Angels bikie in Sydney's inner west. Click here for the full report.

7.18am TIARA ALERT: The Windsors have been accused of overspending after they cost British taxpayers more than $60 million last year.

7.16am SPORT - World Cup: Portugal beat Ghana 2-1 this morning but they're still out of the World Cup. Poor hunky Christiano Ronaldo. Germany also beat the US.

7.14am Whales are out & about along the South Coast! The team at Dolphin Watch Cruises - Jervis Bay spotted seven whales on yesterday's cruise. Wow! But not Migaloo, we missed Migaloo :(

7.12am Ha, love this dog picture this morning! Very clever.

7.11am Wollongong clothing store Something for Doris is celebrating its eighth birthday on Sunday! Happy birthday Jude & the team. Pop in for some specials!

7.10am Have you been snapped out & about in the Illawarra? Check out our gallery of social pics - you never know who you might spot!

7.08am TV NEWS: Rumours are swirling that The Block is planning a reno of the hotel that was home to the infamous Melbourne "vampire gigolo" murder case. A rundown South Yarra hotel, where a bloodied woman was found covered in bite marks, has been snapped up for $7.35 million. Could it be used for the show?! Watch this space...

7.06am WORLD NEWS: The jury in the Rolf Harris trial has returned ... with questions. They wanted clarification on five different points.

7.04am CELEB NEWS: It seems Lindsay Lohan is planning on treading the boards. She's making her stage debut in the London production of "Speed-the-Plow."

7.02am LOCAL NEWS: NSW Marine Rescue Shellharbour took delivery of a brand new search and rescue boat on Thursday at Wollongong Harbour.

*Click here for the full story.

7am I don't like birds but this video of some little ducklings trying to get up a set of stairs is pretty cute. There's an important lesson about persistence in here.

ducks

6.58am Good morning Illawarra! Welcome if you're just tuning in. Today will be partly cloudy with a top of 20. There is a five-car accident at Sandy Point (Heathcote Rd @ St Georges Cres), which has closed the road westbound. Traffic is REAL bad. All is good on the trains though!

6.56am NATIONAL: Authorities are warning consumers against buying rip-off USB-style chargers after a young woman wearing headphones and holding her laptop was found dead with burns on her ears and chest, in an apparent electrocution. Scary!

6.54am LOCAL SPORT: Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy believes Benji Marshall could be the key to unlocking the finals door for St George Illawarra. The boys are playing at WIN Stadium on Monday night.

6.52am STRANGE BUT TRUE: North Korea is threatening to declare war over Seth Rogen's new film. The Interview starring Rogen and James Franco, tells the story of a producer and talk-show host who are asked by the CIA to assassinate a North Korean dictator. Oh dear.

6.50am Accused killer Gerard Baden-Clay sobbed as he professed his love for his late wife from a courtroom witness box yesterday. Get the full story here.

6.48am Former NSW premier Barry O'Farrell tweeted this picture of the sun rising over Sydney this morning.

6.47am RADIO NEWS: Ian "Dicko" Dickson and Sarah Morice are set to lose their coveted daily radio show on Sydney's 2UE as the station prepares to unveil a new line-up, due to hit the airwaves next week. 

6.46am MUSIC NEWS: Beyonce & Jay Z have kicked off their US tour with footage from their wedding. Yep. Their wedding.

6.44am LOCAL NEWS: Deregulation of university fees will hit regions like the Illawarra hardest, according to University of Wollongong Council member Michael Zelinksy. Mr Zelinksy, UOW council's alumni representative, has labelled vice-chancellor Paul Wellings as "out of touch" with the people of the region for his support of fee deregulation.

*Reporter Lisa Waschmuth has the full story here.

6.42am The Artful Eating book, a combination of recipes & art work, will be launched at the Wollongong Art Gallery tonight. 6pm. All welcome.

6.40am STRANGE BUT TRUE: Federal employees at a US Environmental Protection Agency have been instructed to stop defecating in the hallway of a regional office. According to an internal email, an individual had "placed feces in the hallway" outside the restroom. Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!

6.39am HEALTH: The death toll from binge drinking and other forms of excessive alcohol use in the United States is just shy of 88,000 people per year, according to a new nationwide analysis. Good lord!

6.38am Have you bought your tickets to Legally Blonde yet? It opens at the WIN Entertainment Centre in a week! Don't miss out - visit www.wec.org.au to reserve your seats.

6.36am MOVIE NEWS: Geena Davis has admitted it was "difficult" filming her sex scene with Brad Pitt in Thelma & Louise. Poor pet! I'm sure there's HEAPS of women who would gladly replace her!

6.34am LOCAL SPORT: Merc sport jibberers Tim Barrow & Mitch Jennings are talking NRL in this week's Kick Off. Click here to see the boys in action.

6.32am TIARA ALERT: Prince Harry has broken down in tears after he was reminded of his mother Princess Diana's death at an event in Brazil.

6.30am WORLD NEWS: Late BBC presenter Jimmy Savile sexually abused vulnerable patients in scores of British hospitals over decades and claimed to have performed sex acts on dead bodies, investigators said on Thursday. Read the full report (eww) here.

6.28am MUSIC NEWS: In case you missed this yesterday, American company C3 confirmed the cancellation of Australia's Big Day Out in 2015. BDO this year suffered from record low crowds and alleged unpaid debts to contractors & unhappy punters.

6.26am CELEB NEWS: Madonna's daughter Lourdes is a graduate! Well, from high school. Yep, she graduated from high school in NYC this week.

6.25am Today is Red Nose Day! Grab your red nose & help raise money for SIDS. NB I've got my own built-in red nose from blowing it so much!

6.24am Looking for something to do tonight? The George Washingmachine Duo is playing at the Blue Diamond Bar at the Kiama Sebel from 7-10pm. Nice!

6.22am SPORT: Aussie tennis star Nick Kyrgios has proven he is one to watch, coming from two sets down to beat Richard Gasquet at Wimbledon.

6.20am NATIONAL: The conditional release of a Sydney underworld figure facing serious gun supply charges has become the latest battlefield in ongoing legal and political debate over the state's new bail laws. Get the full yarn here.

6.18am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Kim Kardashian has new hair! Yep, she's traded her brunette locks for blonde - again.

6.16am LOCAL NEWS: No consensus exists between the region's Aboriginal groups about whether the Aboriginal Tent Embassy should be allowed to remain at McCauleys Beach at Thirroul.

*Reporter Ben Langford has the full story here.

6.14am Hehe how funny is this kitty?! People love fat cat pictures. Awww.

6.12am WORLD NEWS: The mystery flight MH370 was almost certainly set to autopilot before it began its journey south, authorities said, as the government announced a new underwater search zone for the wreckage. The 60,000-square-kilometre area of the sea floor, lying about 1800 kilometres west of Perth, has been chosen by a thorough expert review of satellite and other data.

6.10am SPORT - World Cup: World football's governing body FIFA has acted swiftly to ban rogue Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez for nine international matches and from any football-related activity for four months. It comes after the serial biter bit (yes, BIT) an Italian player. Naughty!

6.08am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Antonio Banderas has already moved on, following his divorce from long-term wife Melanie Griffith. His new squeeze? Sharon Stone, according to reports.

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

*A powerful Senate committee has called for the CBA to face a royal commission to investigate fraud, forgery and allegations of a cover-up inside its financial planning arm.

*Labor leader John Robertson displayed an ‘‘error of judgment’’ by failing to report an attempted $3m bribe from late businessman Michael McGurk potentially reigniting questions over his leadership.

*The most politically costly reform in politics in decades is to end with the Senate preparing to wind up Labor’s carbon tax and scrap the automatic move to a market-based trading scheme from next year.

*Climate experts have flagged concern Australia will be left with no central policy to reduce greenhouse gas emission.

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

*Unanderra priest Father Mark O'Keefe was questioned about his support for an accused child molester - in defiance of his bishop's orders - at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse on Thursday.

*A teen who threw a cup of petrol at his ex-girlfriend, causing burns to 20 per cent of her body, will spend at least two years behind bars.

*Transport company Toll Express has announced plans to move its Kemblawarra office to Eastern Creek in Sydney, making the site's full workforce of 17 employees redundant.

*DNA material potentially linking a former Albion Park Rail teacher to sex acts on a young girl could have been innocently transferred, Wollongong District Court has heard. 

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

WEATHER Thank god that wind has died down! Today we're in for a partly cloudy day with a top of 20. We'll have some light winds but nothing like the howlers that threatened to bring my house down! The weekend is looking mostly sunny but cool - top of 19 tomorrow and 16 on Sunday. Brrrr.

TRAFFIC All is good around town & for the run to Sydney.

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

6am Good morning Illawarra & TGIF! Apologies for my absence yesterday - I've come down with a yucky cold & sore throat. Feeling slightly better today, thanks to cold & flu tablets! Yippee. Stay with me this morning for all the latest news etc.

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop