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

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8.30am That's it from us this morning. Have a fantastic Wednesday. Keep your brolly handy! See you tomorrow.

8.26am Apparently cupcakes make our brains "sparkle". Aww. But can we train them to think the same way about brussel sprouts? Find out here.

8.24am BREAKING: Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard has arrived at the Royal Commission into Union Corruption.

8.23am LOCAL NEWS: Wests Illawarra is making another grab for land near its Unanderra club, requesting Wollongong City Council sell them a site currently under its control.

*Here's the full story.

8.22am NATIONAL: The Salvation Army worker charged over the murder of Iranian asylum seeker Reza Barati inside the Manus Island detention centre told a colleague before the violence that he wanted to join PNG security guards in their fight against detainees, a whistleblower has claimed.

8.20am MOVIE NEWS: Bill Murray has come out with a list of female stars he would like to see in an all-girls Ghostbusters film. His list? Emma Stone, Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig.

8.18am MUSIC NEWS: Irish superstars U2 yesterday released their first album in five years FOR FREE on Apple's iTunes as the tech giant unveiled its latest smartphones. (SMH)

8.16am STRANGE BUT TRUE: Brisbane City Council is considering new rules that may see parents fined up to $5692 if they hold a large birthday party in a park without a permit. Put those balloons away! No fun for you!

8.14am WORLD NEWS: Russia has made clear once again that it doesn't want NATO forces on its borders. Or on its shores. Or anywhere near foreign territory it occupies.

8.12am NATIONAL: ASIO boss David Irvine is "very seriously" considering raising the nation's terrorism alert level to "high", meaning an attack is deemed likely.

8.08am Our girl Barbie is one sassy fashionista! She's even been blogging from New York Fashion Week!

8.06am Today is World Suicide Prevention Day.

8.04am Don't forget lunch is on today in the Arts Precinct in Wollongong from 12pm to 2pm. Featuring live music. Stop in!

8.02am LOCAL NEWS: A man has been charged after child abuse material was seized from a home in Balgownie.

8am Readers, meet Pudding. He is a very pretty little fox. Awww.

7.58am Good morning! Welcome if you're just tuning in. We're in for a partly cloudy day with a top of 21 degrees. Expect scattered showers & the chance of a thunderstorm this morning. All good on the roads & rail.

7.54am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Check out Kim Kardashain getting drenched during the ice bucket challenge on Ellen.

7.52am BREAKING: Police are seeking urgent help to locate a one-month-old boy who is believed to be travelling with his mother. Shoaa Asmar, 27, and her baby son, Omar, were last seen leaving an address on Croft Avenue in Merrylands about 6.30pm on Monday. Have you seen them? Call triple-0.

7.50am In some other world news this morning, the US has no information indicating beheaded American journalist Steven Sotloff was "sold" to Islamic State militants by moderate Syrian opposition rebels, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said yesterday.

7.46am This will give you a laugh this morning - Nicki Minaj has attempted to teach some pretty unimpressed-looking models how to twerk during New York Fashion Week. Needless to say, it did not go well.

7.44am WORLD NEWS: A tourist has filmed the moment a water spout formed over Croatia. Wow!

7.42am STRANGE BUT TRUE: Sorry, I saw no other way to categorise this - two university students started lining up outside the Apple store in Sydney for the iPhone 6 yesterday, even though the new devices will not be in store until September 19. That's going to be a LONG 10 days. (SMH)

7.40am RED CARPET: Check out Reese Witherspoon at the premiere for her new film Wild. She looks gorgeous!

7.38am LOCAL NEWS: A woman has denied downloading child porn and taking inappropriate photos of her daughter in a bid to frame her de facto husband and win custody of the child.

*Reporter Bree Fuller has the full story here.

7.36am TIARA ALERT: Apparently the Duchess of Cambridge has revealed she wants three children before she turns 35. Well, she's on track! NB any guesses on the sex of baby number 2? I'm betting girl...

7.34am NATIONAL: A warrant has been issued for the arrest of a former Kings Cross bouncer and part-time actor who has emerged as one of the most senior Australian members of the terrorist group Islamic State.

7.32am LOCAL SPORT: Remy Gardner, the son of Illawarra motorcycling legend Wayne, will make his grand prix racing debut this weekend after earning a late call-up to ride in Moto3.

7.30am BREAKING: police are searching a dam on a property near Wagga where a mother and her three children have been shot dead.

7.28am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Is there biff between Taylor Swift & Katy Perry? Hours after T Swift revealed having issues with another female artist in the industry, Katy Perry went on Twitter to warn her followers about a "Regina George in sheep's clothing". Interesting...

7.26am Looking for a quick meal to whip up tonight? Try this curry recipe.

7.24am Want to win a double pass to see Wicked? Yes please! Enter here for your chance to score some wickedly awesome seats.

7.22am Studies have shown certain genres of music work better for different types of work-outs. Do you have a different playlist for weights & cardio? I'd love to know your work-out songs.

7.20am WORLD NEWS: Levels of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rose at a record-shattering pace last year, a new report shows, a surge that surprised scientists and spurred fears of an accelerated warming of the planet in decades to come. Yay!

7.18am Always wanted to bake your own sourdough? Good news - Wild Rumpus is running a bread making class in November. Details below.

7.16am LOCAL NEWS: It's tough keeping young kids like Harry Cross engaged in physiotherapy sessions, but a recent trial of a MotoMed mobility machine certainly had the four-year-old animated.

*Health reporter Lisa Wachsmuth has the full story + all the details on Wave FM's popular lamington drive.

7.14am NSW: The drug-addicted nurse who set fire to the Quakers Hill Nursing Home was allowed to continue working and given the key to the facility's drug cabinet despite strong suspicions that he had stolen hundreds of painkillers the night before, an inquest has heard.

7.12am Don't forget the Kiama Farmers' Markets are on today at Black Beach from 2pm to 5pm.

7.10am STRANGE BUT TRUE: In a truly disturbing, very gross strange-but-true this morning, a British woman has discovered the eggs of the world's most venomous spider ... in her shopping. OMG.

7.08am In some other TV news this morning, Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans were SUPER excited to see Anya & Xander reunited for Comic Con. Nice!

7.06am LOCAL SPORT: Kiama Braves pitcher Maddi Lenard has helped the Australian Emeralds women's baseball team claim the bronze medal at the World Cup in Japan.

7.04am TV NEWS: Have you been watching Big Brother? I have to admit I'm not a fan (I can only devote myself to one reality TV series at a time - cough, Bachelor, cough) but here's a recap if you want to catch-up.

7.02am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Ariana Grande is proving to be QUITE the diva. She's got strict demands for photographers & reporters, including not shooting her from her right side. Wha!?

7am LOCAL NEWS: Visitors to Crown Street Mall were offered a Know Your Numbers health check on Tuesday as part of National Stroke Week.

*Reporter Lisa Wachsmuth has the full story here.

6.58am Good morning! Welcome if you're just tuning in. We're in for a partly cloudy day with a top of 21 degrees. Expect scattered showers & the chance of a thunderstorm this morning. All good on the roads & rail.

6.56am POLITICS: Poor ol' Joe Hockey. He's been voted the least favourite minister in the Abbott government, according to a new poll. The winner? Julie Bishop. Doin' it for the ladies!

6.54am HEALTH: Young women who develop breast cancer do not get the help and support they need, and many are suffering long-term financial and emotional consequences, the National Breast Cancer Foundation says.

6.52am A little hump day funny for all those nappers (like me!) out there.

6.50am In some other celeb news this morning, Beyonce & Jay Z have crashed a wedding during their holiday in Italy. They even posed for pics with the bride.

6.48am WORLD NEWS: Canadian explorers have found the wreck of one of two ships lost in the 1845 Franklin expedition to Canada's Northwest Passage, solving an enduring historical mystery and bolstering Canada's claim to the key Arctic trade route.

6.46am Want to win a weekend away to visit Floriade in Canberra? Of course you do! Click here to enter our competition - and good luck!

6.44am CELEB NEWS: Oh Joan Rivers. Even in death, she was making demands - she "banned" US First Lady Michelle Obama, pop star Adele, and US talk show host Chelsea Handler from attending her funeral just weeks before her sudden death.

6.42am TIARA ALERT: The late Princess Diana was a "manipulative, paranoid mother" who threatened to have Camilla killed, according to an explosive new biography about her youngest son Prince Harry. Yowser!

6.40am LOCAL NEWS: A Wollongong medical wholesale business is donating a defibrillator to the Illawarra District Netball Association following the tragic death of a player at the Berkeley courts last month.

*Health reporter Lisa Wachsmuth has the full story here.

6.38am SPORT: Michael Schumacher has left hospital to continue his recovery at home but the former Formula One champion faces "a long and difficult road ahead" after his skiing accident last year, a statement said yesterday.

6.36am Happy Teddy Bear Day! The first teddy was created on this day in honour of US president Theodore Roosevelt.

6.34am LOCAL SPORT: Former New Zealand captain Benji Marshall has been snubbed by the Kiwis' representative selectors but two of his St George-Illawarra teammates have been granted a green light.

6.32am Struggling to find somewhere to eat in Wollongong on a Tuesday night? Good news - Dagwood is now open on Tuesday evenings.

6.30am NATIONAL: Former Labor immigration minister Chris Bowen said the Manus Island detention centre was not appropriate for children but was advised by intelligence agencies, including ASIO to publicise a "blanket exemption" when he re-installed the controversial offshore detention centre.

6.28am Have you voted in the Mercury's Shoot the Hairdresser competition yet? Have a look & the entries here & register your vote.

6.26am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Taylor Swift has graced the cover of Rolling Stone magazine in the US to promote her new album 1989.

6.25am TECH TALK: Not only has Apple announced a new iPhone, it's also announced a new Apple Watch. Very cool.

6.20am SYDNEY: Whoever deliberately started a shop fire at Rozelle which claimed the lives of three people could be charged with triple murder, police say. 

6.18am Want to learn more about Wollongong Botanic Gardens? Head along to its first walk & talk tour tomorrow at 10am. Details below.

6.16am LOCAL NEWS: Two victims of a fatal crash on Picton Road on Friday have been identified as a 66-year-old woman and a 68-year-old man from Deniliquin in the state’s south-west.

*Reporter Kate Walsh has the full story.

6.14am MOVIE NEWS: Kriv Stenders' Kill Me Three Times, the long-awaited follow-up to his outback hit movie Red Dog, has been met with a boisterously enthusiastic reception at its world premiere at this year's Toronto International Film Festival.

6.12am People, I bring you adorable bunnies. Enjoy.

6.10am WORLD NEWS: The United States should halt its "close-in" aerial and naval surveillance of China, a senior Chinese military officer told Susan E. Rice, President Barack Obama's national security adviser, yesterday.

6.08am CELEB GOSS ALERT: If you missed this one yesterday, How I Met Your Mother star Neil Patrick Harris married his partner of 10 years David Burtka in Italy over the weekend.

6.06am And in national/global news, via the SMH:

*Apple has moved to recapture its role as the leading tech trend-setter as it unveiled its first smartwatch and two large-screen versions of the iPhone.

*The man who died after he was bitten by a shark at Byron Bay has been named in media reports as English expat Paul Wilcox.

*A preliminary report into the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 includes a chilling transcript of communication between flight controllers as they realised MH17 had vanished from their instruments.

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

*Mayor Marianne Saliba denies Shellharbour City Council is repeating the errors of the past and heading towards dysfunction.

*Wollongong's city streets could soon host food festivals, wine tastings or pop-up night markets after councillors agreed to allow up to 40 alcohol-related events to be held each year in alcohol-free zones.

*More than a quarter of Illawarra nursing homes are yet to install fire sprinkler systems, despite the state government mandating their introduction.

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

WEATHER We're in for a partly cloudy day with a top of 21 degrees. Expect scattered showers & the chance of a thunderstorm this morning.

TRAFFIC All good on our roads & for the run to Sydney.

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

6am Good morning Illawarra, happy hump day Wednesday! Your regular host, Emma Spillett, is back after having a day off yesterday. Hope you're all having a good week. Stay with me this morning for the latest news etc.

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