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

8.20am That's it from us this morning as your host attends to other duties. Enjoy your wet Tuesday -stay dry! See you tomorrow.

8.18am Keen to check out Killelea State Park? Why not enjoy a guided tour? A discovery walk will be held this Saturday 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.

8.16am LOCAL NEWS: A paper-thin solar panel that could be used to create self-charging mobile phones is in development at the University of Wollongong.

*Reporter Ang Thompson has the full story here.

8.14am STRANGE BUT TRUE: This guy REALLY didn't want to get married - a Connecticut man has faked his own death to get out of his wedding.

8.12am Too broke to eat out? Keen to just stay inside and cook but your current cuisine only extends to toast? Here's some inspiration for creating a dinner party for six people for $30. Score!

8.10am WORLD NEWS: Struggling Malaysia Airlines is offering travel agents almost double the standard commission to sell tickets for its flights. Good luck with that.

8.08am TRAFFIC ALERT: The Illawarra Hwy is closed in both directions at Albion Park due to flooding & it's causing major headaches on the roads.

8.06am HEALTH: A cholesterol-lowering drug significantly reduces the risk of heart disease in women with type-2 diabetes, a new study shows. Treatment with fenofibrate cuts the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by 30 per cent in women and 13 per cent in men, according to University of Sydney researchers. (AAP)

8.04am STRANGE BUT TRUE: People, I bring you the McDonald's fries bed. I kid you not.

8.02am This is a picture of a pit bull licking a baby bunny. I know. You're welcome.

8am Good morning if you're just tuning in! We're in for a cloudy day with scattered showers. Expect a top of 16 degrees. The Illawarra Hwy @ Albion Park is closed due to flooding. Otherwise, all good on the roads & rail.

7.58am Looking for a longer read this morning? Check out this piece from reporter Glen Humphries on a Kiama veteran & author.

7.56am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Mary-Kate Olsen and her fiance were spotted in the Hamptons over the weekend -- and twin Ashley came along with them.

7.53am The Brewery is running Tex Mex nights every Thursday. Think nachos, tequila and Corona buckets to share. Yum!

7.50am LOCAL SPORT: Their finals hopes may be hanging by a thread but Dragons coach Paul McGregor won't encourage his side to go into their shell in their remaining three games.

7.48am STRANGE BUT TRUE: This is a doozy - a 19-year-old Maine resident has been arrested wearing a t-shirt, featuring the mug-shot from his ... wait for it ... PREVIOUS ARREST. D'oh!

7.46am TV NEWS: Don't you just love TV ads? (NOT!) Well, plans are afoot to increase ad breaks (NOO!) But - making people sit through 20 minutes of advertisements during prime-time television shows risks pushing viewers to alternatives, TV insiders and experts have said.

7.44am London's most famous face is having a make-over. No, it's not Prince George but Big Ben. He's getting a nice scrubbing, as we speak.

7.42am LOCAL NEWS: A Coniston youth who damaged a car and shopfront windows in a fit of rage had been on parole from a juvenile detention centre for less than 24 hours, a court has heard.

*Court reporter Shannon Tonkin has the full story here.

7.40am NATIONAL: The Baird government will increase its monitoring of groundwater, starting with three coal seam gas flashpoints, in a bid to ease community concerns about the impact of the emerging industry. Click here for more information.

7.38am CELEB GOSS ALERT: If you missed this one yesterday, former Home & Away star Kate Ritchie has given birth to a baby girl. Babies everywhere this week! Congrats.

7.36am Looks like new Wollongong restaurant The Meatery is getting VERY close to opening. Anyone got an ETA on its official opening date?

7.34am The Mercury has just launched a new enewsletter - Mercury Morning Rush. Sign up here for your chance to win $500. Entries close September 8.

7.32am MUSIC NEWS: The Falls Festival line-up has been announced. Big names include John Butler Trio, The Presets, Spiderbait, The Temper Trap and Vance Joy. It's on in Byron Bay over New Years.

7.30am Love salt? This might make you think twice - it has been called "the single most harmful substance in the food supply". A new paper by Harvard attributes excess salt consumption to 1.65 million deaths annually worldwide. Good lord! People, put DOWN the salt!

7.28am The Beer & Cider festival is on at the WEC this weekend. Want to win tickets? Head to the Brewery tonight, grab a tap beer or cider & be there at 7pm when the prize is drawn. Good luck!

7.26am NATIONAL: The government has confirmed it will release hundreds of children and their families on bridging visas from detention centres. The families of children under the age of 10 will be moved into the community while their refuge applications are processed, after the government approved new bridging visa arrangements. However, the children must have arrived before July 19 last year to be released. (AAP)

7.24am Patrick Swayze would have been 62 today. Let's have a look at some of his most iconic roles, in honour of his birthday. Happy b'day to other Aug 19 babies.

7.22am Illawarra theatre company Newstar is set to head down south this weekend, bringing its Rude, Crude and Musical show to Milton Theatre on August 22.

7.20am OMG look at these kitties kissing. Heart. Melted.

7.18am STRANGE BUT (ALLEGEDLY) TRUE: A Sydney cafe owner allegedly refused to hire a man for a barista job, stating: "I don’t think people would like to have their coffee made by black people. That’s not part of the coffee culture”.

7.16am MOVIE NEWS: Sylvester Stallone still blames his rivalry with fellow action man Arnold Schwarzenegger for his movie flops, saying he only signed on for roles in Rhinestone and Stop or My Mom Will Shoot over fears the Terminator star would grab the parts if he didn't. The movie veterans have since become great friends and they co-star in the Expendables film franchise. The Expendables 3 is in cinemas now.

7.14am MUSIC NEWS: Taylor Swift has released the name of her new album. It's 1989 - the year she was born. It's due out on October 27.

7.12am Melbourne has been named the world's friendliest city, hosting people with a "wonderful sense of humour." Sydney came in fifth.

7.10am NATIONAL: PM Tony Abbott has blamed confusion over the former NSW Labor government's ban on political donations from property developers for some of the Liberal Party's woes at ICAC, including the resignation of two state MPs last week.

7.09am Funny man Dave Hughes is set to return to the WEC on December 4 with his hit show Pointless. Tickets on-sale via Ticketmaster on August 28.

7.08am Love baby goats? Here are 29 of 'em. Enjoy.

7.06am LOCAL NEWS: A stop sign at the front of Wollongong Hospital's sleek new foyer greeted staff and visitors on Monday after flooding caused the closure of the main entrance.

*Click here for the full report.

7.04am WORLD NEWS: Liberia's armed forces have reportedly been given orders to shoot people trying to illegally cross the border from neighbouring Sierra Leone, which was closed to stem the spread of Ebola.

7.02am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Christina Aguilera has revealed the name of her newborn daughter. World, meet Summer Rain.

7am Good morning if you're just tuning in! We're in for a cloudy day with scattered showers. The rain is easing. Expect a top of 16 degrees. The Illawarra Hwy @ Albion Park is closed due to flooding. Otherwise, all good on the roads & rail.

6.58am A little Tuesday morning funny for you. Who doesn't love fat cats?!

6.56am LOCAL NEWS: The University of Wollongong could have its brighter students poached by wealthier colleges with more scholarship dollars under incoming higher education reforms, the opposition has warned.

*Education reporter Ang Thompson has the full story here.

6.54am NATIONAL: BASE jumping had previously been banned from a French mountain peak where an Australian man plunged to his death while participating in the adventure sport at the weekend. Click here for the full story.

6.52am MUSIC NEWS: Oh Brit-Brit. Ms Spears has been caught lip-syncing at her new Piece of Me show at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. To make it worse? She's lip-syncing to Sia performing her hit song Perfume. Ouch.

6.50am WORLD NEWS: Jaycee Chan, the son of kung fu mega-star Jackie Chan, has been arrested in Beijing on drug-related charges, amid an anti-drug crackdown that has already netted thousands in mainland China.

6.48am I love cute animal pics (everyone knows that!) but how about oversized animal pics? A giant seal? A mega goldfish? You be the judge...

6.46am Want to win your dad a stunt flight for Father’s Day? Enter here for your chance to be the best daughter/son/wife EVER. Entries close August 25.

6.44am NATIONAL: Young workers at a NSW poultry processing plant had to share mattresses and crowded housing with up to 30 others, for wages of as little as $11.50 per hour. Click here for the full story.

6.42am TV NEWS: The Emmys are on next week, yippee! Check out this list below of who will (and who should win!) the awards.

6.40am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Jay Z & Beyonce are keen to squash THOSE divorce rumours with the sexy trailer for their upcoming HBO TV special.

6.38am LOCAL NEWS: A teen who crashed a stolen motorbike while taking it for a joy ride - severely injuring himself and one of his three passengers - should think himself lucky to be alive, a magistrate has said.

*Reporter Bree Fuller has the full story here.

6.36am Today is International Orangutan Day. Awww. It's also World Humanitarian Day.

6.34am Oh Clive Palmer. He's delivered an extraordinary tirade against Australia's biggest trading partner, describing the Chinese government as "mongrels" who shoot their own people. In a broad spray on last night's Q & A, Palmer accused the "communist Chinese government" of trying to take over Australia's ports to steal the nation's natural resources.

6.32am This ice bucket challenge thing is taking over the internet - even celebrities are doing it! Basically, you dump a bucket of ice water on yourself to raise money for charity. Here's Oprah, J-Lo & Justin Timberlake getting iced.

6.30am TV NEWS: One of the girls on The Bachelor is in big trouble. WA contestant Alana Wilkie reportedly uploaded a picture of herself on Instagram, kissing a new beau on Cottesloe Beach. Oops.

6.28am LOCAL NEWS: A new $8 million hot rolled coil processing facility opened at BlueScope's Port Kembla Steelworks on Monday.

*Click here for the full story.

6.26am CELEB GOSS ALERT: If you missed this one yesterday, former Australian Idol star Anthony Callea and boyfriend Tim Campbell are engaged.

6.24am WORLD NEWS: Pope Francis said yesterday the international community would be justified in stopping Islamist militants in Iraq but that it should not be up to a single nation to decide how to act.

6.22am MUSIC NEWS: Good ol' Miley Cyrus (wouldn't be the Rush without a Miley post!) She's made a five-foot bong to honour her dead dog Floyd. Yep, a bong.

6.20am FLOODING UPDATE: Here's a little list of places to avoid in Sydney & the Illawarra due to flooding:

In Sydney:

* Audley Road is closed at Audley Weir in the Royal National Park

In the Illawarra:

* Illawarra Hwy is closed at Tongarra Road in Albion Park

* Illawarra Hwy is affected by water over the road near Wilsons Rd in Burrawang.

6.19am Don't forget we're crossing to Pulse 94.1FM with all the latest from the Rush.

6.18am NATIONAL: A 57-year-old fisherman is believed to have been attacked and killed by a crocodile in front of his wife while they were fishing in the Northern Territory. Click here for the full story. 

6.16am Oh my pigs. Yes, pigs. Look at this little piglet - where do I get one!?

6.14am LOCAL NEWS: Wollongong City Council staff have recommended an apartment and retail complex in Keiraville be given the go-ahead, saying it will ‘‘contribute positively to the commercial village centre’’.

*Council reporter Kate McIlwain has the full story here.

6.12am MUSIC NEWS: We told you yesterday Lady Gaga had arrived in Australia, ahead of her national tour. Here she is hopping off a QANTAS plane, wearing some very, um, interesting shoes.

6.10am WORLD NEWS: Julian Assange plans to walk out of Ecuador’s embassy a free man, avoiding arrest and extradition to Sweden to face questioning about sexual assault and rape allegations. Mr Assange has said he anticipated legal reforms in Britain would facilitate a resolution of his circumstances and end the prospect of his extradition to Sweden. 

6.08am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Remember Andrew Keegan from the film 10 Things I Hate About You? He was kinda the douchey guy. Well, now he's started his own religion. I kid you not.

6.06am And in national news (via the SMH):

*A decade after the Waterfall disaster, a key safety recommendation has not been implemented.

*Victims of CBA’s financial planning scandal have slammed as ‘‘obscene’’ and ‘‘devastating’’ the multimillion-dollar pay packets pocketed by executives in charge of the troubled division.

*The NAPLAN writing task will be overhauled to give students more choice in what they write about and different questions may be asked of primary and high school students after widespread criticism that this year’s question was too confusing for many students.

*Muslim leaders have used a bridge-building meeting with the prime minister to raise doubts about creating no-go zones that would force travellers to Iraq and Syria to prove they are not terrorists.

6.05am Here's what's making news in your Mercury today:

*More than 30 people will be out of work when Sam’s Warehouse in Shellharbour shuts its doors next week.

*Plans for Wollongong's much-heralded Bass and Flinders Gateway development lack information and should not progress to the next stage of the NSW Planning process, an independent consultant has found.

*Poor road and rail connections to Sydney are costing Illawarra businesses $150 million a year, according to a report to be released this week.

*Police are continuing to investigate the death of a 20-year-old Mollymook man whose body was found on railway lines at Bulli on Saturday morning.

6.03am Let's kick things off with the latest weather & traffic

WEATHER We're in for a cloudy day with scattered showers. The rain is easing. Expect a top of 16 degrees & some wind.

TRAFFIC There is flooding at Albion Park (Taylor Rd @ Illawarra Hwy) - the road is closed in both directions. Otherwise, all good.

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

6am Good morning Illawarra! Anybody else considering investing in an ark? Boy, did we have some rain overnight! Stay with your host, Emma Spillett, this morning for all the latest news etc.

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