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

8.46am That's it from us this morning. Have a fab day. See you tomorrow!

8.44am LOCAL NEWS: Shoalhaven Mayor Joanna Gash says Shoalhaven ratepayers will not be getting an extension to the deadline for paying rates, despite a delay in the posting of the June rates notices.

*Click here for the full story from reporter Alex Arnold.

8.42am Bruce and Denise Morcombe are set to speak at the launch of their book ‘‘Where is Daniel? The Family’s Story’’ in Brisbane this morning.

8.40am Check out this Instagram shot of Miley Cyrus and her puppy. He's a very cute boy.

8.38am SPORT: Swans fans, good news - Buddy Franklin and Dan Hannebery are set to return to the team for Saturday's game against Port Adelaide. Yay!

8.36am Scrabble is adding 5000 new words to the official player's dictionary.

8.34am TRAIN ALERT: The lift between the concourse & platform 2 at Wollongong is temporarily out of service.

8.32am LOCAL NEWS:  Hundreds of people gathered to join NSW Governor Dame Marie Bashir at the Balgownie War Memorial yesterday to mark the 100th anniversary of the declaration of World War I.

*Check out the full story & a range of photos.

8.30am HEALTH: A study has been released, showing that new Aussie mums are still sleepy four months after giving birth (but not as tired as those in the US).

8.28am STRANGE BUT TRUE: James and Marian Luciani, and a friend, were shocked when they received a bill for 42 euros (A$60) for just three ice creams and a bottle of water at Bar Il Caffe, near the Trevi Fountain in Rome. Hope the ice-cream was coated in gold! 

8.26am Jodhi Meares is set to face Waverley Court today, charged with drink driving. Meantime, the trial of Lian Bin ‘‘Robert’’ Xie, charged with murdering five members of the Lin family in North Epping, begins in the Supreme Court today.

8.24am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Check out Orlando Bloom dancing to Pharrell William's Happy during his trip to Ibiza. Shake it Orlando!

8.22am And in some more TV news this morning, US viewers appear to be a little bemused by the Real Housewives of Melbourne, which debuted on US TV screens last night. Twitter was awash with bitchy comments about the Aus version of the long-running Real Housewives franchise, many of them focusing on the appearance of the six stars. Click here for the full story.

8.20am TV NEWS: Australian singer Debra Byrne has appealed for witnesses to an alleged sexual assault on the Young Talent Time set. She has alleged she was "digitally raped" by a crew member.

8.18am The Brewery is running Tex Mex nights every Thursday. Think nachos, tequila and Corona buckets to share. Yum!

8.17am: The nation's A-League All stars will play a training match tonight against the Young Socceroos at WIN Stadium. Kick off 7pm, free entry.

8.15am MH17: The Australian and Dutch investigators charged with retrieving the bodies and effects of the victims of the MH17 air disaster have once again been held off reaching the crash site by renewed gunfire and shelling in the ongoing battle between Ukrainian and rebel forces.

8.14am LOCAL NEWS: A charity football match was held at Ray Robinson oval, Towradgi, last night to raise funds for three-year-old Bomaderry crash victim Jake Price

*Click here for the full story.

8.13am Readers, meet Cecil. This little bunny has a $1000 handbag, her own Instagram account & is owned by model Cara Delevingne. Lucky bunny!

8.12am STRANGE BUT TRUE: A Gold and a Five Star Italian blend are burning coffee relations in Australia. Two Australian coffee brands, Cantarella - which owns Vittoria - and Modena, will take their trademark fight over blend names to the nation’s highest court today. The companies are arguing over the Italian translation of Gold and Five Star - Oro and Cinque Stelle - which Cantarella successfully trademarked over a decade ago. (AAP)

8.10am Anyone else feeling a bit like this today?

8.08am TRAIN ALERT: The 5:57am Kiama to Bondi Junction service will terminate at Central due to track maintenance at Wolli Creek.

8.06am SYDNEY: Racism in Sydney schools is leaving many students feeling helpless and doubting their abilities, research presented at a national education conference on Monday has revealed.

8.04am LOCAL NEWS: Students at St Brigid's Catholic Primary School didn't shy away from the difficult questions when burns survivor Turia Pitt visited them on Monday.

*Here's the full story.

8.02am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Go Sandy! Sandra Bullock raked in a cool $51 million this year.

8am You'll never look at a peach the same way after seeing this. 'Nuff said.

7.59am Keen to check out Killalea State Park? Why not enjoy a guided tour? A discovery walk will be held on August 23 from 9.30am to 12.3pm. A free BBQ will be held at the end. Bookings are essential, contact Shellharbour Council on 4221 6111 or sustainability@shellharbour.nsw.gov.au.

7.56am Good morning if you're just tuning in! We're in for a sunny day with a top of 18 degrees. All looks good on the roads & rail.

7.54am Pope Francis has shared his top 10 secrets to happiness, advising people to "live and let live" as the first step to peace & happiness. Smart man.

7.52am NATIONAL: The roll-out of Labor’s National Broadband Network was rushed, chaotic and inadequate, and done without an adequate business case or cost-benefit analysis, a government commissioned audit says. (AAP)

7.50am Amigos is hosting Fajita Fridays! $15 fajitas from 5pm to 7pm.

7.48am CELEB GOSS ALERT: J-Law is single. Yep, Ms Hunger Games aka Jennifer Lawrence split from her actor boyf Nicholas Hoult over the weekend.

7.46am WORLD NEWS: One person has died after flash flooding triggered mudslides in California.

7.44am LOCAL SPORT: As he takes the first steps towards a career in the brutal world of mixed martial arts, Dragons great Matt Cooper insists he's no retired footballer just looking for a hobby.

7.42am So, you're hungry. You grab some salty snacks or fast food? BAD - these food actually make you hungrier. Here's a full list of no-go foods.

7.40am STRANGE BUT TRUE: Don't mess with a man's gozleme. That is the message from a fight in Auburn over the weekend, which allegedly stemmed from a complaint about a lack of cheese. Sheesh!

7.38am TV NEWS: The Seven Network has secured the Australian broadcast rights to the Olympic Games in a deal that ensures its place as the Olympic broadcaster until 2020. The multi-million dollar deal includes TV rights to the summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and Tokyo in 2020 and the winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, in 2018.

7.36am Sally Fitzgibbons has just tweeted: "time to fly ... on to the next adventure." I wonder where she's headed?!

7.34am Savvy snappers, we want your photos. The Mercury is putting together its 2015 calendar, showcasing the beauty of the region. The six photos which receive the most amount of reader votes will be selected for the calendar. Winners will also pick up a cool $500. Send your photos to competitions@illawarramercury.com.au by August 22.

7.32am CELEB GOSS ALERT: If you missed this over the weekend, Sia got married! She tied the knot with her filmmaker fiance Erik Anders Lang in Palm Springs.

7.30am LOCAL NEWS: NSW Minister for Disability Services and the Illawarra John Ajaka has defended his government's decision to bow out of the provision of disability services.

*Health reporter Lisa Wachsmuth has the full story.

7.29am MOVIE NEWS: Guardians of the Galaxy, the latest action film from Walt Disney's Marvel Studios, opened as the top weekend picture in US cinemas, smashing forecasts with ticket sales of $94 million for the best August opening ever.

7.28am STRANGE BUT TRUE: Working like a dog - literally. This Shiba Inu puppy lives and is "employed" at a little cigarette shop in Japan.

7.26am The Kidzwish Orange All Stars Dinner will be held on August 13 at the Lagoon. Entertainment includes Luke Kennedy from The Voice & "Fast Ed" from Better Homes & Gardens. Click below for more information.

7.24am HEALTH: One of the key crossbench senators has told Treasurer Joe Hockey to ''soften the blow'' of the proposed $7 GP fee by reducing the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme co-payment by the same amount.

7.22am We love corgis! Check out these six corgi puppies during a visit to Georgia Tech in the US. Oh so cute.

7.20am WORLD NEWS: The doctor who treated a man who flew to Nigeria and died of Ebola now has contracted the disease, authorities said on Monday, presenting a dire challenge to Africa's most populous nation as the regional toll for the outbreak grew to 887 dead

7.18am LOCAL SPORT: South Coast are looking for a new first-grade coach after Nahuel Arrarte confirmed he would not be in charge of the Wolves next season.

7.16am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Poor Delta Goodrem. US comedian Marlon Wayans threw some serious shade on her. He Instagrammed about the "unrhythmic white woman" next to him @ a concert - turns out it was Delta. Oops.

7.14am MANLY: Manly ferries could be hired for exclusive functions for as many as 1100 people under a business model being considered by their private operator. Click here for more.

7.12am TIARA ALERT: Do these two ever stop travelling?! Kate Middleton and Prince William visited Belgium over the weekend in commemoration of the anniversary of the declaration of WWI.

7.10am The children’s chorus from the Wollongong Conservatorium will be performing with Opera Australia in Mozart’s The Magic Flute this weekend.

7.08am MOVIE NEWS: Bill Murray is set to play Baloo in the new live-action CGI remake of Disney's The Jungle Book. The film will also feature the voices of Ben Kingsley, Christopher Walken, Scarlett Johansoon and Luipta Nyong’o.

7.07am BREAKING: Israel and Palestinian groups have agreed to a 72-hour humanitarian truce to begin in Gaza, according to officials.

7.06am Audtions for Shellharbour Carols by Candlelight will be held this Sunday from 10am. Call 4267 3920 to book an audition or email juliet@egtc.com.au.

7.04am LOCAL NEWS: Wollongong City Council is looking for experienced auditors and financial assessors to join two advisory committees which scrutinise its budgets and financial strategies to prevent fraud and corruption.

*Reporter Kate McIlwain has the full story here.

7.02am So these guys had a bad day at work yesterday - the window cleaners got stuck 144 metres up Austria's tallest tower. They had to cling to their cleaning cradle on the 48th floor. NB Anybody else's day measure up to that!?

7.01am  It's National Waffle Day in the US! Yum. It follows National Chocolate Chip Cookie day yesterday. Delicious.

7am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Mischa Barton from the OC is in trouble - again. The 28-year-old actress reportedly owes $100,000 in back mortgage payments for her Beverly Hills mansion. Oh dear.

6.58am Don't forget we're crossing every hour to Pulse 94.1FM with all the latest from the Rush.

6.56am Good morning if you're just tuning in! We're in for a sunny day with a top of 18 degrees. All looks good on the roads & rail.

6.54am SPORT: If you missed this yesterday, Roosters player Anthony Minichiello has announced his retirement from NRL. Here's the full story.

6.52am Happy 53rd birthday Barack Obama! The US president is celebrating today. A big happy birthday to all the other August 5 babies.

6.50am EDUCATION: The government should crack down on university graduates who take a ''free ride'' on the taxpayer by moving overseas after they have finished their studies, according to the peak universities body.

6.48am MUSIC NEWS: Taylor Swift, what a sweetheart. The singer performed at Boston Children's Hospital on Sunday for a little boy with cancer. His response to the show? "I didn't know you'd come." Awww.

6.46am Have you popped into the brand new Mimco, Trenery, Kikki K and Oxford stores in the Crown St Mall? They’re very shiny and full of lovely tax-cheque-friendly purchases. PS we here the new GPT will open late September.

6.44am WORLD NEWS: In honor of the 100th anniversary of the declaration of World War I, 800,000 red poppies poured like blood from the Tower of London yesterday.

6.42am LOCAL NEWS: Six months and $200,000 later, the once abandoned Minnamurra mansion is starting to show its potential as one of the grandest properties on the South Coast. More than 60 parties have expressed an interest in buying the property through a campaign from real estate firm CBRE.

-Click here for the full report from Alex Arnold.

6.40am If you missed this yesterday, Aussie athlete Genevieve Lacaze pulled a Kanye West on Kylie Minogue at the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony. She jumped on-stage & boogied with Kylie's back-up dancers while she was performing. She was ushered off by security after about a minute but she's a gold medallist in my eyes. Nice work Gen!

6.38am NATIONAL: Phone and internet record of Aussies will be held for two years, in a bid to fight homegrown terrorism. Big Brother is watching!

6.36am WORLD NEWS: Minutes after Israel began a unilateral and partial ceasefire in Gaza on Monday, the air force struck a house in the Shati refugee camp in Gaza City, killing a girl, 8, and wounding at least 29 others, Pale

6.35am MOVIE NEWS: First of all, plans are in the works for a new Ghostbusters movie. Second, there's rumours it could be an all-female cast. Click here for more.

6.34am In some other celeb news, how freaking cute is this picture of Kanye West with his little girl North? Mumma Kim Kardashian snapped this shot of the pair in his recording studio. Pretty damn cute.

6.32am CELEB GOSS ALERT: These rumours about Beyonce & Jay-Z breaking up just won't quit. They look very lovey on stage (during their On the Run tour) but then we hear Bey's shopping for her own apartment. Hmmmm.

6.30am SYDNEY: Police are appealing for information to identify a woman found dead in a cave in Middle Cove. Here's the full story.

6.28am Roo Theatre is holding auditions for its production of Evita. Auditions will be held in early September. Check out the link below for more info.

6.26am LOCAL NEWS: A 38-year-old man has been extradited from Queensland and charged over a fatal car crash in Wollongong more than a decade ago.

-Click here for all the details.

6.24am STRANGE BUT TRUE: People, I bring you the human Ken doll. In a similar vein to the human Barbie, this man has spent $50,000 to look like Ken. Okay then.

6.22am LOCAL SPORT: Italian legend Alessandro Del Piero arrived in Wollongong on Monday to train with the All Stars squad ahead of their clash with his former club, Italian champions Juventus, on August 10.

6.20am TV NEWS: The stars of the hit television series The Big Bang Theory have signed new deals, which will net them $US1 million per episode. Three of the show's leads - Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons and Kaley Cuoco - will sign new three-year contracts that effectively confirm an eighth, ninth and 10th season of the show. Good news for Big Bang fans! (SMH)

6.19am Awww, this has made my morning. Look at this picture of a little pug falling asleep. Oh so cute!!!

6.18am WORLD NEWS: The drama over baby Gammy continues - this morning, it's been alleged that the man at the centre of the Thai surrogacy scandal has a conviction for indecently dealing with a child.

6.16am CELEB GOSS ALERT: The Beckham's eldest son has a girlfriend. Yep, Brooklyn is not so little any more. The 15-year-old is dating Chloe Grace Moretz (star of Carrie & Kick Ass). And she's an older woman - she's 17.

6.14am And in national news (courtesy of the SMH):

*Factors including links to organised crime and a victim’s view of their safety will be taken into account when courts are deciding whether to grant bail to accused criminals under changes signed off by state cabinet in response to fury over controversial recent decisions

*Australian governments need to rethink bans on commercial surrogacy, experts have said after reports an Australian couple abandoned a baby boy in Thailand.

*The federal government is refusing to release more detailed modelling prepared before the budget by treasury that shows the likely impact of the proposed measures on different household types. 

6.12am Here's what's making news in your Mercury today:

*While females are starving themselves and purging in their quest for the perfect body, more and more males are spiralling out of control, caught in the grip of an equally destructive eating disorder.

*Joseph Gumley's ashes will be thrown to the wind in the bush he so dearly loved near his home town of Ulladulla.

*A Berkeley woman who lashed out at paramedics in a drunken, drug-fuelled rage has apologised to her victim for the "uncharacteristic" attack.

*A Gerringong receptionist has pleaded guilty to ripping off almost $35,000 from the Seven Mile Beach Holiday Park over a three-year period.

6.10am Okay, let's kick things off with the weather & traffic.

WEATHER We're in for a sunny day with a top of 18 degrees. Expect some light winds this morning & tonight.

TRAFFIC All is good around town. There is a two-car accident @ Caringbah so just be careful if you're heading to Sydney.

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

6.07am Good morning Illawarra! Apologies for the slightly late start today - this silly sausage forgot her security pass so had to go ALL the way home & get it!

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