8.45am That's it for today's edition of Morning Rush. Have a lovely weekend and join us again on Monday for the latest news and online buzz.
8.36am LOCAL NEWS Two Illawarra artists will be eagerly awaiting the announcement of the Archibald Prize on Friday, but four more who did not make the final list have still been given some recognition.
The Salon des Refuses, billed as an alternative selection of the Archibald and Wynne prizes, opens at Sydney's S.H. Ervin Gallery on Saturday, with four Illawarra artists part of the line-up.
8.32am Lost Wollongong has posted this beautiful photo of Wollongong from the escarpment some time ago. It definitely looks a little different now!
8.28am Today is Caviar Day. If you’re feeling a little fancy, why not have some on those little toast things with a glass of Dom.
8.24am Penny Hartgerink is playing at Kiama Golf Club on Saturday night from 7.30pm.
8.16am A new sexual health outreach service will open in Wollongong's CBD to fill the gap left by the closure of a similar service over 18 months ago.
8.08am LOCAL NEWS Southern Stars launched for 2014 on Thursday, with 60 students performing some of the numbers that will be included in the big performance in August. Take a look at a gallery of pictures here and videos of the students’ performances here and here.
8.04am The Wollongong Writers Festival is coming in October.
8am Mr Abbott was asked whether Australia would allow Russian President Vladimir Putin to attend the G20 summit in Brisbane if it does turn out there was Russian involvement in the crash.
‘‘Let’s just wait and see exactly what turns out to have happened here. Let’s wait until we have all the facts in,’’ he said. AAP
7.55am A quick weather and traffic update. All good on the roads and with the trains this morning. Right now it's just under 9 degrees, with a partly cloudy and windy day expected.
7.49am WORLD NEWS Tony Abbott has spoken to The Today Show about the Malaysia Airlines crash.
7.44am LOCAL NEWS A woman charged with recruiting children to commit shoplifting crimes in the Illawarra during the last month will face court.
7.40am DFAT has established a hotline for Australians seeking further information about the Malaysia Airlines crash: 1300 555 135.
7.36am LOCAL NEWS Popular Wollongong nightspot Three Chimneys could be forced to close its doors at 11pm on weekends if an application to Wollongong City Council to stay open is unsuccessful. Kate McIlwain reports.
7.32am The State Library of Victoria has got its hands on an original, handwritten copy of Victor Hugo's Les Miserables - for loan, mind you. The book forms part the centrepiece of the Victor Hugo: Les Miserables – From Page to Stage exhibition, in from today until November.
7.28am The Bulli Foragers Farmers Market is on this Sunday, as is the Wild Rumpus Maker's Market in Thirroul, a perfect time to stock up on sustainable produce and design.
7.24am TV NEWS Stars of The Big Bang Theory apparently want $US 1 million an episode. What do you reckon - is the canned laughter worth that much?
7.20am LOCAL NEWS Bishop Peter Ingham is celebrating 50 years as an ordained priest today. He was just 23 years old when the ceremony was conducted st Sydney’s St Mary’s Cathedral. Have a look at this gallery of photos from his time in the Illawarra.
7.16am Mind already on your weekend plans? Three Chimneys has live music on Saturday and Sunday.
7.12am On this day in 1536 the Pope’s authority was declared void in England; in 1572 William of Orange was recognised as viceroy of Holland; in 1907 French troops occupied Casablanca and in 2012 Kim Jong-un was officially appointed Supreme Leader of North Korea.
7.08am LOCAL NEWS Grammy and Helpmann-winning South African vocal group Soweto Gospel Choir dropped into Wollongong on Thursday for a whirlwind sightseeing trip ahead of their show at the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre on August 4.
7.04am LOCAL NEWS Police are urging Illawarra residents to literally watch their money, after a Kiama business discovered a fake bank note in their daily takings.
7am WORLD NEWS It has been confirmed 27 Australians were on board the Malaysia Airlines flight that crashed. SMH
6.56am WORLD NEWS Israel has invaded the Gaza Strip overnight. According to the SMH, the military offensive plans to stop missiles being fired by Hamas and other militants. SMH
6.52am Naww, the Brits are a bit hot. A heatwave of sorts has been triggered because temperatures are predicted to reach between 28 and 32 degrees over two days and not fall below 15 at night. At 15 degrees I normally reach for a jumper! But to be fair, when it reached 38.5 degrees in England in 2003, more than 2000 deaths promoted their health service to create a heatwave plan.
6.48am SPORT Get the latest rugby news with Merc sports writers Tim Barrow and Mitch Jennings.
6.44am TRAFFIC ALERT The earlier animal hazard on the M1 near Berkeley has cleared.
6.40am NATIONAL NEWS Gerard Baden-Clay has appealed his murder conviction two days after being found guilty of killing his wife Allison. SMH
6.36am Today is also Play School’s anniversary. It screened on ABC for the first time in 1966. Let’s all enjoy the early ‘90s intro.
6.32am Celebrating their birthday today are actors Vin Diesel and actress Kristen Bell, as well as Nelson Mandela.
Mandela would have amazingly turned 96 years old today. Tributes are flowing in from around the world, including on the Google homepage, where an animation of his most famous quotes is playing.
6.28am TRAFFIC ALERT An animal on the road has closed one northbound lane on the Princes Motorway near Northcliffe Drive at Berkeley. Drivers should exercise caution.
6.24am 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
6.20am An Illawarra cycling group has backed a proposal that the NRMA offer roadside assistance for cyclists.
6.16am There are reports at least one Australian was on board the Malaysia Airlines flight, but no official confirmation at this stage.
6.12am More on the Malaysia Airlines crash. The SMH has live updates with the latest information. The cause of the crash is not yet known, but Ukraine officials claims it was shot down by pro-Russian separatists, while the separatists deny this allegation and instead blame the Ukranian military.
6.08am Let’s take a look at the national news, courtesy of the SMH
*A Malaysia Airlines plane en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur has crashed in separatist-controlled eastern Ukraine. On board the flight were 280 passengers and 15 crew. There are no known survivors.
*The Abbott government says it has not left Australia's environmental policy in limbo with the repeal of the carbon tax and it will push ahead with "plan A" to convince the Senate to support its Direct Action policy.
*An Australian man who masqueraded as a welfare worker in Vanuatu paid for underprivileged boys to come to Sydney for a holiday and then molested them, police allege.
6.05am Here’s what’s making news in your Mercury today
*Dog attacks in Wollongong have jumped 48 per cent in a year, with nearly 50 people and more than 200 animals dog-related victims.
*Illawarra Labor MPs Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones have slammed the government for repealing the carbon tax.
*Shoppers who recently visited Dapto Mall are being warned they may have come in contact with a store worker with measles.
*Catholic teachers from schools across the Illawarra gathered at Wollongong's Lang Park for a three-hour strike on Thursday morning to express their frustration at negotiations over salaries and working conditions.
6.02am Let’s take a look at the roads and the skies
WEATHER A mostly clear day with top temps of 15 degrees. It’s going to be a blustery one day, so make sure you rug up.
TRAFFIC All clear on Illawarra roads this morning. Watch out for roadworks at Gerringong and Mount Ousley, and remember parts of Keira Street in Wollongong are closed to cars.
TRAINS There is good service on the South Coast line.
6am Friday is finally here! Let me ease you into the last day of the weekend with this morning's Morning Rush.