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

8.42am That's it from us this morning. Hope you have a wonderful Wednesday. Rug up! See you tomorrow.

8.40am You know what we haven't played for awhile ... "anywhere but here"! Today, I'd rather be swimming in this gorgeous pool in Bali. It's hot, I've got a cocktail in my hand and I'm tanning. I can almost taste the tequila...

8.38am WORLD NEWS: Ukrainian government forces targeted pro-Russia militants with artillery and air strikes on Tuesday after President Petro Poroshenko said he wouldn't renew a ceasefire that was repeatedly violated during its 10 days in force.

8.36am It's cold outside so naturally it's a GREAT time to eat soup. If, like me, you love aromatic coconut chicken soups, you'll love this recipe for tom kha gai. Oh yum yum!

8.34am SPORT - World Cup: Belgium has held on to beat the US 2-1 in extra time. They'll be some broken-hearted Americans this morning :(

8.32am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Michael Buble celebrated Canada Day with his gorgeous family yesterday. The man is just too handsome, too sweet. Sigh.

8.30am SPORT: Disgraced former New Zealand batsman Lou Vincent was yesterday banned for life from cricket for match-fixing, admitting he was a cheat who had shamed the sport and his country.

8.28am LOCAL NEWS: Normally the domain of DJs and dance music, the Hotel Illawarra will host a different kind of noise on Wednesday as the club is taken over by the RAW Wollongong creative showcase.

*Reporter Josh Butler has the full story here.

8.26am WORLD NEWS: Dozens of terrified tourists had to abseil to safety or be airlifted by helicopter from cable cars in the French resort of Grenoble, after they became stuck in high winds.

8.24am Check out Michelle Obama testing out her soccer skills! Just in time for the World Cup. Nice!

8.22am A friend of mine just posted this pic of his pretty kitty Penny. Doesn't she look like a regal lady with her pearl choker!?

8.20am SPORT - World Cup: Things are heating up - the score in the match between Belgium and the US is now 2-1. Nail-biter!

8.19am WORLD NEWS: Convicted pedophile Rolf Harris could face civil action from victims seeking compensation.

8.18am NATIONAL: Police in Melbourne are seeking a man over an alleged violent sexual assault. Police say a man tried to strike up a conversation with the victim as she walked home from the Noble Park railway station on Monday night. He then blocked the footpath. When she changed direction, he grabbed her by the hand and neck and sexually assaulted her. The woman fell to the ground during the assault but she kicked free of the man and ran. The man is described as around 183cm tall, of Indian appearance and aged in his early-to-mid 20s.He wore a dark sports jumper with a white zip, fitted pants, light-coloured shoes and a beanie. (AAP)

8.14am The Phoenix Theatre is hosting the Amazing Ab Brothers this Friday night. Looks like a good show! Tickets still available.

8.12am TIARA ALERT: Kate Middleton looked pretty in pink in London yesterday. Gorgeous!

8.08am WORLD NEWS: A federal judge in New York has overturned the conviction of a former New York cop after he was found guilty of what prosecutors said was a plot to kidnap and eat young women.

8.06am Looking for a fun night out? The Social is hosting Fiesta Thursdays, serving up a range of sangria specials to go with tasty $5 tapas plates. You can also head there for an after-work drink every Tuesday to Friday - enjoy $5 house beer & wine from 5pm to 7pm.

7.58am LOCAL SPORT: Mitchell Bell is in pole position to wrap up the Kembla Grange senior jockey's title as Winona Costin extended her margin in the apprentice title race with three meetings remaining.

7.56am SPORT - World Cup: It is still nil all in the Belgium v US match.

7.54am CELEB NEWS: Portia De Rossi recently spent 30 days in rehab. Her wife, Ellen Degeneres, reportedly visited her every weekend. It is not known why she checked in but she has battled eating disorders in the past.

7.52am STRANGE BUT TRUE: Something smells fishy! An abadoned shopping centre in Bangkok has been overtaken by fish. Yep, fish.

7.50am NATIONAL: Barry O'Farrell used his first public speech since dramatically quitting as NSW premier to launch an intriguing story: that of a politician who resigned from high office, only to regroup and enjoy a second, successful political career. Get the full story here.

7.48am Three Chimneys is running a fund-raiser to benefit the homeless. Coffees at Three Chimneys have gone up in price by 50¢ for July, and the cafe will match each purchase with 50¢ of their own, for a total of $1 from each drink purchase to aid food programs in the region.

7.46am Tennis player Nicholas Kyrgios has just tweeted: Have to do it all again tomorrow and I can't wait! First @Wimbledon & I'm in the last 8 club!! #HaveThat

7.44am STRANGE BUT TRUE: A South Dakota town with just two residents is on-sale for $400,000. Yep, a few hundred thousand can buy you the little town of Swett. Anyone keen to go halvies?

7.42am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Actor Tobey Maguire's wife Jennifer Meyer created pal Courtney Cox's new engagement ring. What a friend!

7.40am Accused wife killer Gerard Baden-Clay returns to the witness box in the Brisbane Supreme Court today.

7.38am So this year's Miss America pageant has been a bit of an epic fail. The first winner, Miss Delaware, was stripped of her title because at 25, she was deemed too old to enter. Then the wrong Miss Florida was crowned, due to a vote-counting error. Ouch!

7.36am Awwww. This story is a heart melter. Nine-year-old Ethan raises money to save dogs from being killed in shelters in the US, in lieu of birthday gifts. All together now: "awwwww."

7.34am LOCAL SPORT: While most of the raps are being directed at the likes of Gareth Widdop and Josh Dugan, Dragons coach Paul McGregor credited the club's maligned forward pack for reviving their finals chances.

7.32am Wollongong's Alibi bar is launching its July art exhibition tonight. They're featuring works from Danielle Wilson & Pink Fusion Photography. Happy hour is 4pm to 8pm.

7.30am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Beyonce has been named the most powerful celebrity on the planet by Forbes magazine. She's outplaced Oprah, Ellen Degeneres, Angelina Jolie and even her husband Jay-Z.

7.28am NATIONAL: Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has strongly backed calls for the Abbott government to extend the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. In its interim report, the royal commissioners sought a two-year extension, suggesting they report in December 2017. They said such an extension would allow them to conduct an extra 3000 private sessions with abuse survivors and 30 more public hearings.

7.26am BREAKING: Four people have been rescued from a fire at an industrial complex in Alexandria. Another 14 were evacuated as 70 firefighters fought the fast-moving blaze. It’s thought that backpackers were camping illegally in the complex. (AAP)

7.24am Did you watch Hamish & Andy's Gap Year last night? I missed it! Those boys are so funny - hope I can catch a replay somewhere. Does Channel Nine have Iview? #firstworldproblems

7.22am MUSIC NEWS: Rumours are swirling that AC/DC will play at Glastonbury next year. Watch this space...

7.20am LOCAL NEWS: Close to $90 million will be ripped out of Illawarra and South Coast public hospitals thanks to federal government budget cuts, according to Throsby MP Stephen Jones.

*Lisa Wachsmuth has the full story here.

7.18am STRANGE BUT TRUE: A Sydney cafe is under fire after it named its signature dessert ... "diabetes". Why!? Oh dear. The dessert is a tower of cinnamon jam cronuts with peanut butter ice-cream, caramel & an espresso shot. Drool.

7.16am There's a great line-up of live music at Wollongong's Three Chimneys this week. It kicks off tomorrow. Check it out - but get in early, tables fill fast.

7.14am NATIONAL: The federal government's medical health provider will face the Australian Human Rights Commission inquiry into children in detention today. Read more on the inquiry here.

7.12am WORLD NEWS: The number of deaths attributed to an epidemic of Ebola virus in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone stood at 467 by Monday, out of 759 known cases in total. The outbreak of the deadly disease is already the largest and deadliest ever.

7.10am I love this image - 30 years of mobile phones. Wow, how things have changed. Does anyone remember the Nokia 6110 with good ol' Snake I? Magic.

7.08am STRANGE BUT TRUE: A leading doctor in the UK has claimed the country needs a four-day working week to combat stress. Can he come here with the same prescription!?

7.06am Baywatch star Pamela Anderson is celebrating her 47th birthday today. Wow, she looks good! Happy birthday to other July 2 babies.

7.04am NATIONAL: Sydney's strong property market has extended into winter with new figures showing a 15.4 per cent growth over the financial year. There were fears after a value drop in May that a collapse in house prices was imminent, but the RP Data figures show a reversal in fortune. (SMH)

7.02am LOCAL NEWS: The lives of two Berry vets will be showcased in a documentary series to be broadcast on Foxtel's The Lifestyle Channel starting this month.

*Reporter Alex Arnold has the full story here.

7am A little hump day funny for you. Honestly, some people are so clever!

6.58am Looking for something to do with the kids today? Head to the Botanic Gardens Discovery Centre for a treasure hunt from 10am.

6.56am Good morning! Welcome if you're just tuning in. We're in for a sunny day with a top of 18 degrees. That earlier accident at Mascot is still affecting northbound traffic. Otherwise, all good on the roads & trains.

6.54am LOCAL SPORT: Dragons player Josh Dugan insists he's not surprised the first person to post the Todd Carney urinal photo was the same person who he engaged in a Twitter war with last year.

6.52am MUSIC NEWS: Rolf Harris has been stripped of his ARIA Hall of Fame induction after being found guilty of indecent assault against four girls. The once much-loved entertainer was inducted into the hall of fame in 2008

6.50am SPORT - World Cup: Belgium and the US are currently playing. At halftime, the pair are drawn nil all. Argentina beat Switzerland 1-0 this morning with an extra time goal.

6.48am MOVIE NEWS: Daniel Radcliffe has been spotted walking many, many pooches & smoking a ciggie in NYC. No, he hasn't swapped careers - he was filming his new movie Trainwreck.

6.46am Dolphins are still entertaining people along the South Coast. Passengers on board Dolphin Watch Cruises in Jervis sat and watched 40 dolphins play off Moona Moona Creek yesterday.

6.44am STRANGE BUT TRUE: Hippos, once owned by Pablo Escobar, are still roaming the grounds of the late Colombian drug lord's former home, presenting a problem for locals and wildlife officials, who aren't sure the best way to contain or control them. Damn, those pesky hippos!

6.42am SPORT: Check out the swimmers our Aussie athletes will be wearing at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Thoughts? I kind of like them!

6.40am Check out this little mouse - mad ninja hiding skills, I say!

6.38am LOCAL NEWS: A Dapto market organiser says the onus is on stallholders to ensure their products are safe after Fair Trading officers found four people selling unapproved USB chargers on Sunday.

*Reporter Dominic Geiger has the full story here.

6.34am Today is International Mullet Day. Please, dear god, do not get a mullet to mark the occasion.

6.32am SPORT: German ninth seed Angelique Kerber upset reigning French Open champ Maria Sharapova in the fourth round at Wimbledon overnight. Let's hear it for the underdogs!

6.30am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Robin Williams has checked into a "renewal centre" in the US. It's not rehab, he has not relapsed after fighting addictions to drugs & alcohol for years, but simply needed a "place to recharge." Hmmm.

6.28am TV NEWS: A Game of Thrones exhibition at Sydney's MCA has sparked long queues for tickets outside the venue in the freezing cold. People waited up to six-hours for tix. That's cray cray!

6.26am Wollongong's Amigos Mexican Restaurant is the home of alliterations - and great deals. They have Taco Tuesday, Wing Night Wednesday & Fajita Friday. Delish!

6.24am WORLD NEWS: Nicolas Sarkozy has become the first former French president to be taken into formal custody after he was detained for questioning in an influence-peddling probe. Sarkozy turned himself in yesterday morning.

6.22am MUSIC NEWS: Reunited folksters Angus and Julia Stone have announced a national tour. The eight-stop tour kicks off on September 12. Tickets go on-sale via angusandjuliastone.com on July 10.

6.20am STRANGE BUT TRUE: Remember our "hot prisoner" or "sexy felon" (if you will) from last week? Well, a US modelling agency reckons he could rake in $30,000 a month modelling. Wowser!

6.18am NATIONAL: Having a mental illness should not be an ''automatic entry'' to a lifetime of welfare support, Beyondblue chairman Jeff Kennett has said, embracing a federal government proposal to shift more people with mental illness into work.

6.16am LOCAL NEWS: A Wollongong magistrate has not been swayed by fresh calls to legalise medical marijuana, convicting a man suffering Crohn's disease for growing medicinal pot in his yard.

*Click here for the full report from Wollongong Local Court yesterday.

6.14am MUSIC NEWS: The #AskThicke went NUTS online yesterday. Basically, someone decided it would be a really good idea for people to ask singer Robin Thicke whatever they wanted via Twitter. It was not a good idea - he really got trolled. Quite a "thicke" decision, I think.

6.12am WORLD NEWS: Four suspects in the Madeleine McCann investigation have been questioned by Portuguese police overnight.

6.10am SPORT: Go Aussie go! Teenager Nick Kyrgios, ranked 144th in the world, has reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals by beating world No.1 Rafael Nadal in four sets in one of the great grand slam upsets. AMAZING!

6.08am Have you booked your tickets to Legally Blonde? The show opens at the WEC this Friday. Get in quick - tix available via Ticketmaster.

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

*Australia and India are deepening military ties and reviving the spirit of a controversial four-way democratic coalition with Japan and the US, in response to growing concerns about China

*Obesity among children could be contributing to Australia’s high rates of asthma, a study indicates.

*As police sought to bring a Catholic brother living overseas back to Australia to face 67 charges of child sexual abuse, the Australian head of the Marist Brothers told him to ‘‘stay over there and enjoy your new life’’.

*Bill Shorten says Labor played politics too aggressively against Malcolm Turnbull as opposition leader, helping to destroy his leadership in 2009 and ruin a carbon trading consensus.

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

*The man dubbed "the Bulli rapist" will fight for his freedom from supervision in the NSW Supreme Court today.

*Former Albion Park Public School assistant principal Mark Robert Forbes has been found guilty of six child sex abuse charges after a seven-day trial in Wollongong District Court.

*A decision on the future of Warilla Child Care Centre has been deferred until September to give Shellharbour City Council more time to consult with the community.

*Kiama residents pay some of the state’s highest rates, while Wollongong  businesses are charged nearly double the average rates in similar areas, according to a NSW government report.

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

WEATHER Today we're in for a sunny day with a top of 18 degrees. Light winds will turn southwesterly this afternoon & ease off tonight. Right now it's a positively toasty (not!) 4 degrees in Albion Park and 6 degrees in Bellambi.

TRAFFIC All looks good around town but there is a car breakdown in Mascot (Southern Cross Dr above Botany Rd) causing a few headaches northbound. 

TRAINS The South Coast line has a good service.

6am Good morning Illawarra, happy hump day! Yep, it's the middle of the week, we're edging closer to the weekend. Stay with your host this morning for all the latest news & goss.

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