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

8.56am That's it for today's edition of the Rush. Come back tomorrow for the TGIF version. Have a lovely day.

8.52am WORLD CUP It's going to be a Germany v Argentina final, with the latter beating Netherlands 4-2 in a penalty shoot out.

8.48am 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.

8.44am NSW NEWS Rail unions and the state opposition have reacted with anger after it emerged the state government was cancelling guardian trains, dedicated late-night services with extra security. SMH

8.40am The cooks are taking over at Dagwood tonight. Yum!

8.36am Hooray - the whale that has been stranded on a Gold Coast beach over the past few days is back in the water.

8.32am MOVIE NEWS The next Hunger Games trailer is out. Looking good!

8.28am Today is also Nikola Tesla’s birthday. He lived from 1856- 1943. The inventor was at the heart of the current wars with Thomas Edison, as they both patented forms of electric power. While Tesla’s work fell into obscurity over the year, there has been a surge of interest in his work over the past decade. The Oatmeal has a great cartoon of his life.

8.24am Sydney ranked third on the list of the most expensive taxi fares from airports to city centres around the world, with an average taxi fare of $A3.95/km. It makes Sydney it the most expensive Australian airport to catch a taxi to the CBD. SMH

8.20am LOCAL NEWS The final chapter of a 40-year development known as ‘‘Shellharbour site 7200’’ has been reflected in a draft planning agreement negotiated between Urban Growth NSW and Shellharbour City Council.

8.16am Kiwi musical, The Factory, opened at the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre on Wednesday night. 

Tickets are available at www.merrigong.com.au or on 4224 5999.

8.12am On this day in 1821 the US took possession of Florida from Spain. In 1962 the world's first communications satellite was launched into orbit and in 1991 the South African cricket team was readmitted into the International Cricket Council following the end of Apartheid.

8.08am An epic prison break was thwarted in the early hours of Thursday morning when the fugitives were spotted grabbing some breakfast from trees near a service station. Three camels were captured in Melbourne after they absconded from a circus overnight. Don't they know you're supposed to runaway to join, not leave, the circus? AAP

8.04am Long dark winters, and excellent public music education, explain why so many top-quality musicians come out of Finland, the Australian Chamber Orchestra's Satu Vanska says.

Vanska is preparing to lead the ACO's Piano Quintets concert tour, premiering in Wollongong this Thursday.

Ben Langford spoke to her ahead of the performance.

It's 8am. Roads are looking good, but trains may be delayed due to trackwork at Sutherland. Right now in Wollongong it's just under 11 degrees.

7.56am Delicious sandwich shop Sandygoodwich is now selling batches of sourdough a few days a week. Get in quick! 

7.52am Head honchos from across the Illawarra's business, education, industry and tourism sectors have put up their hands to be on Wollongong City Council's economic advisory board.

7.48am CELEB GOSS Robert Downy Junior Susan Downey are expecting their second child in November.

7.44am Kiama guitarist James Vann is playing at the Blue Diamond Bar, Kiama Sebel on Friday July 11 from 7pm. 

Also down south tomorrow night is a wine dinner at the Bella Char Restaurant at the Mercure Gerringong. Tickets are $85pp and include a meal matched with wines from Coolangatta Estate.

7.40am TRAFFIC ALERT The cows that were blocking the Picton Road at Wilton have moved on.

7.36am On this day in 1821 the US took possession of Florida from Spain. In 1962 the world's first communications satellite was launched into orbit and in 1991 the South African cricket team was readmitted into the International Cricket Council following the end of Apartheid.

7.32am 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

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/08/goat-attempts-to-master-blow-up-chair-shanon-casson_n_5567362.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000063

7.28am LOCAL NEWS Thomas Jackson has painted an impressive 80 square metre mural on a concrete tank at Sydney Water’s Wollongong Water Recycling Plant this week.

Thomas Jackson takes artwork to new lengths at the Wollongong Water Recycling Plant. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN

Thomas Jackson takes artwork to new lengths at the Wollongong Water Recycling Plant. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN

7.24am July 10 is Teddy Bear Picnic Day. If you go down to the woods today, you’re in for a big surprise. Although I’m not sure where the nearest woods are in the Illawarra? Maybe try the Minnamurra Rainforest?

7.20am LOCAL NEWS A motorcyclist on red P-plates has been fined more than $2200 after he was caught doing more than twice the speed limit along West Dapto Road.

7.16am A Midsummer Nights Dream is on its way to the Phoenix Theatre. The season kicks off Friday night. Tickets available through the company’s website.

7.12am WORLD NEWS Australian Cardinal George Pell has taken personal control of the Vatican’s finances in a reform unprecedented in living memory . On Wednesday, Cardinal Pell held a press conference to announce his economic plan for the Holy See, building on a reform framework approved by the Pope earlier this year. SMH

7.08am In the mood for some live music tonight? Kava Kings are at Three Chimneys. 

7.04am LE TOUR Amid the World Cup drama, it seems Tour de France has slipped under the radar a tad. But it’s already up to the fifth stage, with defending champ Chris Froome the first major victim in the wet conditions. He came off his bike twice and his withdrawn from the comp. SMH

It's 7am. If you're just joining us, the roads are looking good (except for the below bovine parade at Wilton), trains may be delayed due to trackwork at Sutherland and it's a chilly 9.6 degrees in Wollongong right now.

6.56am TRAFFIC (COW?) ALERT If you're driving along Picton Road this morning, be wary around Wilton near the Hume Highway on ramp. There are some cows moseying about - perhaps moo-seying about (boom, boom, tish!)- and they're affecting traffic in both directions.

6.52am Wowzers - the median asking rent for Sydney apartments has hit $500 a week. That’s a lot of beer and skittles. SMH

6.48am Attempts are continuing to get a humpback whale stranded on a Gold Coast beach back out to sea. The juvenile whale has been stranded since Tuesday night, but is okay for now. Sea World experts stayed with him overnight. AAP

6.44am CELEB GOSS Rumour has it Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes, i.e the world’s most attractive couple, are expecting a bub in the next few months.

6.40am LOCAL NEWS Auburn Street developers have turned their backs on a plan to provide affordable rental housing near Wollongong train station, instead proposing an 18-storey mixed-use apartment block for a site which has been awaiting development for more than a decade. Reporter Kate McIlwain has the story.

6.36am I love a good bit of soccer-related Simpsons humour.

6.32am WORLD NEWS Indonesia's election result is in dispute as both candidates say they have won the presidency. Joko Widodo and opponent Prabowo Subianto have each used quick counts of ballot papers carried out by private companies to claim victory. SMH

6.28am Check out this great pic by Merc photographer Andy Zakeli. Time for a Game of Thrones reference - winter is coming! But more seriously, there is a damaging winds warning in place for the Illawarra, so stay safe. 

6.24am WORLD CUP We're 22 minutes into the Netherlands v Argentina game and still nil all. What are the odds one team is in for a thrashing a la yesterday's Brazil and Germany game?

6.20am LOCAL NEWS A Shellharbour man employed at the South Coast Correctional Centre has been charged with trafficking drugs and other contraband into the Nowra prison.

6.16am July 10 babies share their birthday with actress Sofia Vergara, singer Jessica Simpson and actor Chiwetel Ejiofor.

6.12am STATE OF ORIGIN The Maroons denied NSW their first 3-0 sweep in 14 years with a face-saving 32-8 victory at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium. But hey, we still took home the trophy.

6.08am Here’s a look at the national news, courtesy of the SMH

* A Sydney father stabbed to death in the middle of a Parramatta shopping centre had just returned from a weekend away with a six-year-old son he ''adored''. Nabil Naser, 40, had flown to Melbourne in the days before his death to introduce his son Taha to friends and family.

*Pregnant asylum seeker women on Christmas Island pleaded with medical experts to adopt their children out to Australian families four months ago, as they became anxious about their future.

*A Sydney judge has compared incest and paedophilia to homosexuality, saying the community may no longer see sexual contact between siblings and between adults and children as “unnatural” or “taboo”. Judge Neilson made the extraordinary and bizarre comments in the case of a 58-year-old man, known for legal reasons as MRM, who is charged with repeatedly raping his younger sister in the family’s western Sydney home in 1981.

6.05am Here’s the top headlines in today’s Mercury.

*An American-owned plane which flew in to Illawarra Regional Airport nearly two weeks ago has been raided for drugs in a dramatic two-day police operation, according to reports. 

*A woman carried a 10-year-old boy to safety after he was mauled in a terrifying dog attack in Bellambi on Tuesday. 

*Sydney man Daniel Angelos has been cleared of intentionally causing Wollongong man Simon Cramp grievous bodily harm. But a Downing Centre District Court jury has found him guilty of a lesser charge, causing grievous bodily harm in circumstances in which he was reckless to causing actual bodily harm. 

*A gambling-addicted staffer at The Housing Trust in Wollongong ploughed more than $21 million into the pokies at Wests Illawarra, Collegians and Star City Casino, after secretly siphoning funds from her employer, Port Kembla Local Court has heard. 

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

TRAFFIC Looking good on the major roads from Kiama to Sydney. Watch out for roadworks at Gerringong and Mount Ousley

TRAINS There is trackwork at Sutherland, so some trains may be delayed on the South Coast Line.

WEATHER It’s going to be a mostly sunny day in the Illawarra, but with strong winds and powerful surf. We’re headed for a top of 16 degrees - take a scarf and jacket to work.

6am Happy Thursday! Welcome to today's edition of Morning Rush.

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