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

8.56am That's it from me this morning. Be sure to check out the Mercury website during the day for breaking news and story updates, and come back tomorrow morning for another edition of the Rush.

8.52am If you're guilty of a terrible park, beware - the region's worst parking offenders are being caught out on the Facebook page Wollongong Crap Parkers. Aim for between the white lines, folks.

8.48am I almost forgot to post a cute animal!

8.44am WORLD NEWS Irish police are hoping Thailand is too distracted by its internal woes to bother with a fugitive Australian alleged drug smuggler who has popped up 18 years later as a Dublin cafe proprietor. SMH

8.40am The new 350-metre bridge that will replace the railway crossing at Fern Street, Gerringong, will be known as Omega Bridge.

8.36am In the mood for a longer read over your toast and eggs? Ben Langford explores why the Illawarra is paradise for mountain bikers.

8.32am Love animals? Training for would-be WIRES volunteers is on this weekend from. 9am to 4pm at the RFS Headquarters, Albion Park. Email wires.illawarra@hotmail.com for more information.

8.28am Prime Minister Tony Abbott says his government will not give in to "moral blackmail" following reported suicide attempts by asylum seekers on Christmas Island.

Mr Abbott said the reports of suicide attempts were "harrowing" but that the government would not change its policy of offshore processing. SMH

8.24am Keen for some fresh produce? Head down to the Kiama Farmers’ Market this afternoon between 2pm and 5pm.

8.20am Having a world-class health and medical research facility in the Illawarra will result in "brain gain" for the region, according to the incoming chairman of the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute, Professor Alan Pettigrew,

8.16am Primary school students would be taught by three or four subject specialists rather than a generalist covering the entire curriculum, under a proposal to the federal government's review into teacher education by the Australian College of Educators. SMH

8.12am An Albion Park Rail man accused of three violent attacks – including two where he allegedly stomped on his victims as they lay helpless on the ground – has been granted bail.

8.08am I'm always surprised how quickly these things take off. #timcahilling has taken off on Twitter this morning after the soccer star posted a pic of his shock at the Germany v Brazil score. Cahill is retweeting some of the best.

8.04am It's Constitution Day

It's 8am. If you're just facing the day, the roads are clear, there is trackwork on the trainline at Sutherland and we're heading for a top of about 19 degrees across the Illawarra today.

7.56am STATE OF ORIGIN NSW skipper Paul Gallen says the prospect of lifting the Blues' first State of Origin shield in nine years to an empty stadium or a chorus of boos won't detract from the moment come full-time on Wednesday night. Mitch Jennings has the story.

7.52am Stop CSG Illawarra has criticised the state government for allowing a loophole that could allow hydraulic fracturing to be practised at coal seam gas wells a few hundred metres from homes near Gloucester on the Mid North Coast.

7.48am On this day in 1540, King Henry VIII annulled his fourth marriage to Anne of Cleeves. In 1776 George Washington orders the Declaration of Independence to be read out loud to members of the Continental Army in New York for the first time and in 1981 Nintendo video game Donkey Kong was released, featuring the first appearance of Mario.

7.44am Shoalhaven Zoo animal handler Trent Burton has described Monday's encounter with the zoo's crocodile as a "brain fart" but is still keen to perform the popular feeding show.

7.40am MOVIE NEWS And there's also a new trailer out for Sharknado 2. If you haven't seen the first, amazing, completely nonsensical Sharknado, I highly recommend it.

7.36am WORLD CUP Well, this is getting awkward now. Germany has scored again, bringing the score in their game against Brazil to 7-0.

7.32am WORLD NEWS A man has died after competing in a hot dog eating contest in South Dakota to mark the Fourth of July. Walter Eagle Tail choked and died at a hospital after attempts to save him at the scene failed. AP

7.28am  Mount St Thomas artist Jasmin Carter is Wollongong Art Gallery's artist in residence. Her exhibition, Bombarded, will be opened on Friday night by writer and social commentator, Van Badham.

Mercury. News. Art. Jasmin Carter, artist-in-residence at the Wollongong Art Gallery, is opening her exhibit Bombardment on Friday.  Tuesday 8 th  July 2014. Story. Josh Butler.  Photo. Kirk Gilmour

Mercury. News. Art. Jasmin Carter, artist-in-residence at the Wollongong Art Gallery, is opening her exhibit Bombardment on Friday. Tuesday 8 th July 2014. Story. Josh Butler. Photo. Kirk Gilmour

7.24am MOVIE NEWS The new trailer for the much-anticipated film Gone Girl is out. Looks creepy.

7.20am The long-forgotten Waterfall General Cemetery should be managed by Wollongong City Council and restored as a bush cemetery, despite high costs associated with conserving the tuberculosis burial ground.

These are the findings of a report into future management options for the overgrown site, also known as Garrawarra, which contains more than 2000 graves.

Garrawarra Cemetery.

Garrawarra Cemetery.

7.16am A whale has been stranded overnight on a Gold Coast Beach - luckily Sea World staff are helping to develop a plan to tow it back out to sea. AAP

7.12am Workplaces will become more informal, with couches and soft furniture instead of desks, according to architecture firm OMA Hong Kong. Personally, I’d love to curl up in a big comfy chair to work all day, but I’m not sure how productive it would make me! SMH

7.08am There were reports of multiple dog attacks on children in Bellambi on Tuesday afternoon.

According to a police media spokesman, police were investigating reports that a nine-year-old boy had been bitten on the legs by a dog in Waley Avenue.

Meantime, NSW Ambulance Illawarra district inspector Terry Morrow said paramedics had reports of two unrelated dog attacks in Bellambi on Tuesday, but neither incident matched the one reported by police.

7.04am As of September, Crazy John's will be no longer. The mobile phone company is closing, seven years after the death of its founder John  Ilhan, with customers moved to parent company Vodafone. SMH

7am Good morning if you're just joining us. Roads are looking good, but trains might be slightly delayed due to trackwork at Sutherland. It's chilly outside right now, but we're in for a mostly sunny day with some strong winds.

6.56am A fundraising website has been set up to grant African refugee Tumezghi Tesfay his wish to join other refugees and migrants on a trip to Canberra to learn about Australian culture.

Mr Tesfay was violently bashed at five days after arriving in the country.

To donate, click http://www.mycause.com.au/page/77731

6.52am The first Foragers Market is on at Bulli this Sunday. Be sure to check it out.

6.48am Bed block will worsen at Wollongong Hospital if the controversial $7 Medicare co-payment comes into play, according to a representative of the nurses' union. Reporter Lisa Wachsmuth has the story.

6.44am SPOILER ALERT If you're taping the soccer, look away now! The first half of the Brazil v Germany match isn't exactly going to plan for one team.

6.40am Everyone wants a piece of Nick Kyrgios after his awesome run at Wimbledon. The SMH reports a stack of sponsorship offers are coming through, with companies keen for the 19-year-old to represent their brand. But his manager John Morris said the teen is taking his time to decide on which products are the right fit.

6.36am JK Rowling has released a short story taking stock of our fave characters in Harry Potter. Written in the voice Rita Skeeter for the Daily Prophet, the article recaps what the gang has been up to since they finished school. Harry has salt and pepper hair, Ron is now managing his brother’s joke shop and Hermione is, naturally, rising through the ranks of the Ministry of Magic. The full story can be read on the Pottermore website.

6.32am Seven Illawarra licensed venues have been issued "strikes" under a state government disciplinary scheme aimed at reducing alcohol-related offences, including Cafe on Legs, the Grand Hotel in Wollongong, Gringo's Mexican Restaurant and Bar in Thirroul, Red Square Wollongong, Shellharbour Workers Club, Piato Grand in Wollongong and Gerringong Bowling & Recreation Club.

6.28am TRAFFIC ALERT If you’re heading to the Wollongong CBD today, don’t forget Keira Street is closed between Market Street and Crown Street for the next few months. Pedestrians can still get through.

6.24am TIARA ALERT What a cutie - the Royal family is on the cover of Vanity Fair. 

6.20am The final State of Origin game for 2014 kicks off tonight, with fingers crossed NSW can make it three-nil.  For nine-year-old Beauden Clarke, it's the first time they have won the cup since he was born.

6.16am July 9 is apparently sugar cookie day. Have a sweet treat with your morning cuppa.

6.12am The World Cup rolls on. Right now Brazil is playing Germany. If you can't quite drag yourself out of bed to the telly to watch, here's a live blog of all the action.

6.08am Here’s the national headlines, courtesy of the SMH

*The lover of a man charged with fatally stabbing her ex-husband inside a busy shopping mall said her partner was "really good and nice" and she could not understand what had happened.

Kazem Mohammadi Payam, 35, was charged with murder after he allegedly stabbed Nabil Naser, 40, to death inside Westfield Parramatta on Monday morning.

*James Packer has officially been granted approval to operate a VIP casino at Barangaroo from November 2019 after clearing a probity check by NSW gaming authorities.

*In a major embarrassment for Sri Lankan authorities, a police commando member of the elite Special Task Force unit assigned to stop people smugglers has been identified as one of the ringleaders of a boat carrying 41 refugees that was recently intercepted by the Australian navy.

*The body of a missing North Bondi woman has been located at Katoomba, according to police.

6.05am Here’s what’s making news in today’s Mercury

*A heavily drunk driver who ploughed head-on into a car along Shellharbour Road last December, injuring a man and his three-year-old daughter, has narrowly avoided jail. 

*Wollongong drivers beware - a Facebook page called Wollongong Crap Parkers has been created with the sole purpose of shaming the worst parking attempts across the region. 

*Council staff recommend that Wollongong's controversial household clean-up service continue, despite concerns the program has caused a proliferation of illegal dumping in the city's streets. 

6.02am Let’s take a look at the roads and the skies

TRAFFIC Looking good on the roads this morning. Watch out for roadworks at Gerringong and the top of Mount Ousley.

TRAINS Trains may be delayed due to trackwork at Sutherland on the South Coast Line.

WEATHER Brrr, it’s chilly out there this morning - not even 10 degrees yet! But it will warm up to about 19 degrees. The Illawarra is in for a mostly sunny day with strong winds and a chance of showers later in the evening.

6am Good morning Illawarra! I hope your day is off to a good start so far. I'm Kate Walsh and I will be rushing with you until Friday.

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