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

Don't forget to refresh the page for updates. Spotted an accident on the road? Got an event coming up? Love to hear from you - espillett@fairfaxmedia.com.au

8.30am That's it from us this morning. Have a fabulous Wednesday! See you tomorrow.

8.26am LOCAL SPORT: St George Illawarra's longest-serving player, Ben Hornby, admits there may be some pain to come out of coach Paul McGregor's full club review but he's confident Brett Morris will be at the club next year.

8.24am Have you seen the Mercury’s new TV commercial yet? Be watching Seven & Ten for the back of my unbrushed head.

8.22am NSW: A driver has fled on foot after crashing a car into a house and injuring an elderly occupant in Eastwood this morning. Read more.

8.20am CELEB NEWS: Billy Connolly has revealed his friend & fellow comedian Robin Williams tried to say goodbye to him. On their last phone call: he said, 'I love you like a brother' and I said, 'I know you do' and he said, 'Are you sure you know?' and I said, 'Yes'. Robin worried about everything."

8.18am Don't forget the Tulip Time festival is on in Bowral until September 28.

8.16am Keen to shake things up in the kitchen tonight? Try this recipe for spinach & feta crockpot lasagne. Yum.

8.14am NATIONAL: Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is expected to use her speech to a special world leaders summit on climate change to commit Australia to setting new post-2020 emissions reduction targets in time for a United Nations deadline early next year.

8.12am Have you booked your tickets to see High School Musical yet? It’s on at Wollongong High School of the Performing Arts from September 29 to October 5. Grab your tix here.

8.10am LOCAL NEWS: Shellharbour City Council had delayed the reopening of Shellharbour City Stadium to allow for additional works to the building’s upgrade.

*Reporter Alex Arnold has the story.

8.08am CELEB GOSS ALERT: So, I know we already had a post about Kanye West but he's gone & shaved arrows into his head. ARROWS!

8.06am SPORT: Saturday marks the AFL grand final. In honour of the game, we've got the greatest AFL grand finals of all time - check it out here.

8.04am Looking for a fun night out? The Social is hosting Fiesta Thursdays, serving up a range of sangria specials to go with tasty $5 tapas plates. You can also head there for an after-work drink every Tuesday to Friday - enjoy $5 house beer & wine from 5pm to 7pm

8.02am WORLD NEWS: Israel has downed a Syrian warplane over the Golan Heights in the first such incident in three decades, and warns it will respond "forcefully" if its security is threatened.

8am Oopsie, that's a bad typo!

7.58am Good morning! Welcome if you're just tuning in. We're in for a mostly sunny day today with a top of 22 degrees. Expect some light winds. All good on the roads. Don't forget there's track work on the South Coast line.

7.56am Airlines are cracking down on carry-on luggage. This is devastating. Here's some tips on how to pack lighter for chronic over-packers like me!

7.54am To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Friends, I bring you Chandler Bing's best one-liners. Enjoy.

7.52am LOCAL SPORT: They played side-by-side on the A-League's biggest stage, but Bulli midfielder Dean Heffernan isn't planning on paying former teammate and Dapto-Dandaloo player-coach Noel Spencer any favours when the pair meet on Sunday.

7.50am SYDNEY: Changes that would allow apartments near train stations or light rail stops to be built without parking could increase resident opposition to projects in parts of Sydney, an industry group has warned.

7.48am CELEB GOSS ALERT/STRANGE BUT TRUE: I felt this post deserved both categories. Kanye West is teaching fashion classes as part of his community service for assaulting a paparrazo. OMG. No words.

7.46am Want to win tickets to see The Dream at the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre? Of course you do! Click here for your chance to score a double pass.

7.44am Chickpeas are having a moment. Check out what you can do with the humble chickpea here.

7.42am TV NEWS: Courtney Cox has revealed she was jealous of Jennifer Aniston in the early days of Friends - she felt her haircut, the Rachel, took over the show! Fair call.

7.40am In the market for a private island? Great - we've got a gallery of 20 private islands you can buy right now! The catch? You need a few mil.

7.38am NATIONAL: Spy agency ASIO will be given the power to monitor the entire Australian internet when new legislation – expected to pass in the Senate as early as today – becomes law. (SMH)

7.36am CELEB NEWS: Hackers have attempted to undermine Emma Watson's "game-changing" UN speech on feminism. Read more. Watch her moving speech about gender equality and the "HeForShe" campaign below.

7.34am Keen to make a sci-fi film? Why not enter the SciFi film festival? Visit here to find out more.

7.32am STRANGE BUT TRUE: A group of friends have made a whirlwind trip to 19 countries within 24 hours, setting a new world record in the process.

7.30am TV NEWS: Big Brother'sfirst eviction has been labelled cruel, humiliating and akin to schoolyard bullying on social media. Housemates were instructed, one by one, to stand behind the house mate they wanted to save and explain why. Awful!

7.28am LOCAL NEWS: A Coledale man has been slapped with a whopping 625 hours of community service - the equivalent of almost four months' full-time work - after he was caught selling drugs.

*Court reporter Shannon Tonkin has the story.

7.26am This image aims to explain why correct word usage is important. Remember, words that sound the same DON'T mean the same thing!

7.24am NATIONAL: Lockyer Valley Regional Council Mayor Steve Jones has said ratepayers would foot the bill for an expert flood investigation after concerns were raised the State Government's flood commission of inquiry was not comprehensive enough, particularly around the badly hit area of Grantham.

7.22am Want to see the front pages of Fairfax publications today? Click here.

7.20am Milk. It used to be such a simple thing to buy. Now, there's 30,000 different varieties, vying for space in your trolley. The good people over at the SMH have looked at the pros & cons of all the different types. You be the judge.

7.18am A little hump day funny for you - enjoy.

7.16am Speaking of health, did you know Priceline Wollongong is now a pharmacy? Great news!

7.14am HEALTH: Australians' out-of-pocket healthcare costs are the highest they have been in a decade, while growth in spending from state and federal governments is at a record low. 

7.12am TV NEWS: Did you watch the Julia Gillard interview last night? What did you think? A lot of mood lighting...

7.10am STRANGE BUT TRUE: The owners of a taco food truck in Colarado have been caught selling Mexican food with a side of meth. Mmm, tasty.

7.08am LOCAL NEWS: There are calls for a change to how Kiama Municipal Council elects its mayor and deputy mayor after a recount led to Cr Neil Reilly being stripped of his deputy mayor title less than 24 hours after being elected.

*Reporter Alex Arnold has the story.

7.06am MUSIC NEWS: Lady Gaga & Tony Bennett's collaboration Cheek to Cheek is now available via iTunes. I'm actually interested to hear this one...

7.04am Have you met the newest member of the Mercury team? Max the Newshound is our new mascot. He’ll be appearing at Hawks games & other events. Come & say hi!

7.02am NATIONAL: Australia's most senior soldier, Chief of Army Lieutenant General David Morrison, has warned the fight against the Islamic State may be part of one "long war" that lasts for decades into the future.

7am STRANGE BUT TRUE: Want to hug a stranger? Join Cuddlr, the new app just for people who want to find someone to cuddle. Okay then.

6.58am Good morning! Welcome if you're just tuning in. We're in for a mostly sunny day today with a top of 22 degrees. Expect some light winds. All good on the roads. Don't forget there's track work on the South Coast line.

6.56am Daryl Braithwaite, oh yes, he of The Horses fame, will perform at TBH on November 23. Tickets are $25 + booking fee.

6.54am The Botanic Gardens has some great activities for the kids these school holidays, including walking with dinosaurs. Very cool! Details below.

6.52am WORLD NEWS: A new report has found in a worst-case scenario, Liberia and Sierra Leone could have 21,000 cases of Ebola by September 30 and 1.4 million cases by January 20 if the disease keeps spreading,

6.50am HEALTH: Shrimps' eyes have been revealed as the latest weapon against cancer as their unique vision is set to be adapted to diagnostic cameras. Get the full story here. Also, weird.

6.48am Happy birthday Bruce Springsteen! The Boss turns 65 today. Happy birthday to other September 24 babies.

6.46am LOCAL NEWS: Copper thieves struck a Unanderra industrial facility on Monday, but may have grabbed more than they expected.

*Reporter Josh Butler has the full story.

6.44am If you haven't checked our our Year 12 Formal gallery yet, do it - it will make you nostalgic for your own school formal days...

6.42am TV NEWS: Could The Bachelor have revealed who he chose ahead of the final episode? Blake's said he wouldn't mind moving to the east coast - does that mean it's Gushica!? Read below. Don't forget tonight is the reunion ep - look out for our Rach!

6.40am WORLD NEWS: Three waves of bombers, missiles and drones were launched by the US and its Arab allies against targets in three regions of Syria over four hours on Monday night as world leaders gathered for a UN General Assembly meeting in New York

6.38am URAC Wollongong has now had over 500,000 visits. That’s a LOT of squats, push-ups and crunches.

6.36am So anyone who knows me knows I love dog costumes. Like, LOVE THEM. Halloween is coming, which means SO MANY DOG SUITS! I've found a pug dressed as a Starbucks coffee to get us started, yay!

6.34am MOVIE NEWS: The Maze Runner has sprinted to the top of the Australian box office, overtaking Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the battle for the No.1 spot. The latest film to be based on a young adult novel, The Maze Runner debuted with $3.577 million over the weekend. (SMH)

6.32am LOCAL NEWS: A father of four children found living in squalor at Fairy Meadow in July has been fined for neglect.

*Court reporter Shannon Tonkin has the story.

6.30am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Beyonce & Jay-Z have shared a new pic of Bey when she was pregnant with Blue Ivy & it's pretty sexy. Check it out.

6.28am NATIONAL: Family and friends gathered in Lockhart yesterday to farewell Phoebe Hunt, her siblings Mia and Fletcher, mother Kim, and father Geoff. Geoff Hunt is believed to have shot his family before taking his own life on their property at Boree Creek, near Wagga Wagga. 

6.26am Want to shake up your work-out? Try these tips in the gym today.

6.24am TV NEWS: Jimmy Fallon, you are just hilarious. He's convinced Modern Family star Sofia Vergara to do a "lip flip" on his show, where they swapped lips via the wonders of technology. Very funny - watch it below.

6.23am STRANGE BUT TRUE: People aren't good with change - apparently many owners of the new, larger iPhone 6 have been sitting on & bending their new phones because they're just so big.

6.22am LOCAL SPORT: Our Wollongong Hawks are set to return to the WEC for the 2014/15 season on October 10. Book your tickets quick!

6.20am NSW: How much does it cost to kill a rabbit? More than $7100, if you are the NSW government. Official figures show the government's so-called "pest control" trial, which began earlier this year, has killed fewer than 200 animals at a cost of $1.416 million. Ouch!

6.18am A little cat post to start your day - these cats are very naughty & clearly can't read signs!

6.16am LOCAL NEWS: Kiama's historic terrace houses on Collins Street were saved from a fire disaster on Tuesday night.

*Our reporters have the story.

6.14am Looking for some live music this weekend? Why not check out Ray Beadle at the Blue Diamond Bar in Kiama from 7pm on Friday night...

6.12am In some other celeb news this morning, if you missed this one yesterday - Kris and Bruce Jenner are officially divorced. If you have no idea who I'm talking about, watch Keeping Up With The Kardashians.

6.10am WORLD NEWS: The largest gathering of world leaders on climate change opens at the United Nations today, amid calls for action to put the planet on course toward reversing global warming.

6.08am CELEB GOSS ALERT: It's on! We've got the first pics of Jennifer Lawrence & Chris Martin together. Oooo.

6.06am And in national news, via the SMH:

*An 18-year-old man has been shot dead by counter-terrorism police and two policemen have been stabbed in Melbourne's outer south-east.

*Julia Gillard has accused Kevin Rudd of sabotage and blackmail, but expressed deep and lingering anguish over her own role in toppling Kim Beazley.

*The community of Eden is mourning the death of Byron Gordon, 10, who was buried by a sand dune.

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

*Swarms of bees, flying out of a neighbour’s backyard hives, have been terrorising a young Berkeley family, forcing them to hide in their house to avoid being stung.

*Wollongong City Council’s controversial move to strip northern Illawarra dog owners of three off-leash beach areas was based on 25 complaints from just 15 households, campaigners have revealed.

*Wollongong has again missed out on crucial state funding through the Resource for Regions program in what has been described as ‘‘a slap in the face’’ for the city.

*The Health Services Union says mental health services at Shellharbour Hospital have been downgraded, forcing the transfer of high-risk patients to Sydney.

6.02am Let's kick things off with the latest weather & traffic, shall we?

WEATHER We're in for a mostly sunny day today with a top of 22 degrees. Expect some light winds.

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

TRAINS Don't forget there's track work on the South Coast line this week. Buses replace trains between Port Kembla and Wollongong. Trains run to the normal timetable between Wollongong and Thirroul/Waterfall. Trains between Bomaderry and Kiama and between Kiama and Central/Bondi Junction are not affected and will run to the normal timetable.

6am Good morning Illawarra, happy hump day Wednesday! Hope you're all having a good week. Stay with me this morning for the latest news etc.

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