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

8.38am That's it from us this morning. Have a wonderful weekend, rug up, it's going to be chilly! A HUGE chookas to the cast of Legally Blonde, which opens at the WEC tonight. There's still time to get tix - visit Ticketmaster to book.

8.34am These pics of people playing "moon games" are very clever. Check them out!

8.32am LOCAL SPORT: The Wollongong Hawks are going all out to attract a legion of new fans with the introduction of scaled-down prices for season tickets and club memberships.

8.26am NATIONAL: PM Tony Abbott's plan to restore the building industry watchdog, a key plank of the government's workplace reform policy, faces an uncertain path through the new Senate with just two of the eight Senate crossbenchers prepared to pledge their vote to restoring the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC).

8.24am LOCAL NEWS: There will not be a paint tin, brush or easel in sight when Project Contemporary Artspace's latest exhibition opens tonight.

*Josh Butler has all the info on the exhibition here.

8.22am The Lego Movie is out on DVD! Grab a copy quick - it's supposed to be very funny & very clever.

8.20am Posh & Becks are celebrating their wedding anniversary today. The couple have been married for 15 years today. Aww.

8.19am WORLD NEWS: A day after the announcement of heightened security measures on US-bound flights, the US Embassy in Uganda said yesterday it had been warned of a "specific threat" of attack to the country's main airport and said travellers "may want to review their plans.

8.18am MOVIE NEWS: A bench used in a scene in the hit film The Fault in Our Stars has gone missing! Someone has removed the bench from its home in Amsterdam. $20 it turns up on eBay in the coming days...

8.16am Check out this stunning picture of Cathedral Rocks at Kiama. Wow. Sometimes I forget just how stunning the Illawarra really is.

8.14am STRANGE BUT TRUE: A New York woman has advertised herself on Craig's List as a "bridesmaid for hire." Yep, for a cost she will hold the bride's dress up, do embarrassing dances & make a speech.

8.12am SYDNEY: The owner of an illegal housing set-up that burnt down on Wednesday will be banned from returning to the site, as it emerged he also owns a string of apartments around Sydney occupied by students and low-income workers.

8.10am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Jessica Simpson is getting married this weekend! Congrats. What a nice weekend to get hitched.

8.08am Love live music? So do we - check out Radar Illawarra for this week's live music gigs.

8.06am MUSIC NEWS: Robin Thicke is in a world of pain. He's trying to win his former wife Paula Patton back but he's admitted he's got "no idea what he's doing." Oh dear.

8.04am LOCAL SPORT: Long regarded as Gerringong's greatest, Michael Cronin has been held aloft as the best of Parramatta's golden generation.

8.02am NATIONAL: The UN has expressed ''profound concern'' over reports Australia was poised to hand Sri Lankan asylum seekers back to the country's navy yesterday after only the briefest refugee assessment.

8am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Apparently Jennifer Lopez did NOT handle her break-up from Casper Smart very well. Ms J-Lo allegedly "started throwing framed photos of [him] against the wall — there was broken glass everywhere, and the maid had to clean up after her. It was a crazy scene.” Yikes!

7.58am Good morning! Welcome if you're just tuning in. Today is set to be a sunny day with a top of 19 degrees. All fine on the roads - watch out for those flashing yellow lights at Albion Park & Warilla. Trains are on time.

7.56am TRAFFIC ALERT - Albion Park: lights are flashing yellow @ the Illawarra Highway & Calderwood Rd - take care.

7.54am Is your daughter/son/niece/friend's baby's birthday coming up? Have you been put on cake-making duties? Here's some simple (ha!) recipes for some really nice cakes - give it a go. We'll pray for you!

7.52am The team at Mudcat Cafe in Wollongong have been baking - and their rosemary & fetta scones look DELISH! Get in quick.

7.50am LOCAL NEWS: Nowra has been chosen as the site for the South Coast Vocational Training and Employment Centre, with Indigenous Affairs Minister Senator Nigel Scullion promising 200 jobs for indigenous people would be created by the move.

*Reporter Ben Langford has the full story here.

7.48am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Jessica Alba looks GORGEOUS on the cover of British GQ. She's talked about her former co-star Paul Walker's "childlike innocence".

7.46am The man who fatally punched Sydney teenager Thomas Kelly, will today learn the fate of his appealed jail sentence.

7.44am WORLD NEWS: A US suburban teenager who practised shooting, sought military training and hoped to join violent jihad against Americans was arrested on the jetway as she tried to board a plane on a one-way trip to the Middle East, court documents show.

7.42am CELEB NEWS: So it looks like exes Courtney Cox & David Arquette are in a bit of a competition - let's see who can get remarried first! Cox announced her engagement to Snow Patrol's Jonny McDaid on Sunday. Then Arquette decided to propose to his G/F on Wednesday. Coincidence? I think not.

7.40am Looks like it's going to be a beautiful day in the Gong! Wow.

7.38am NATIONAL: Prime Minister Tony Abbott says we have all benefited from Britain’s original foreign investment because Australia was “unsettled” before the British arrived. Oh Tony.

7.36am Have you been snapped out & about in the Gong? Click here for this week's social pictures - you never know who you might spot.

7.34am STRANGE BUT TRUE: Owner of stately home, Knebworth House, has boasted about some unusual mementoes collected over the years - including Sir Mick Jagger's undies. Yep, Mick left his undies at the estate in 1976. Ewwww!

7.32am LOCAL SPORT: The All-Stars camp will act as a perfect advertisement for Football South Coast to lure a powerhouse nation to Wollongong for next year's Asian Cup, chief executive Ann-Marie Balliana said on Thursday.

7.30am Looking for something to do with the kids today? The dinosaur zoo is on at the Illawarra Fly - looks pretty cool! Dinosaur fans will love it.

7.28am Ha, this is great! Cops working REAL hard in the US.

7.26am LOCAL NEWS: When a NASA rocket blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Wednesday carrying a groundbreaking carbon dioxide monitoring observatory, two University of Wollongong scientists were playing a vital role in the mission.

*Reporter Ben Langford has the full story.

7.24am NATIONAL: A key player in Sydney's infamous "Golden Gun" cocaine syndicate, Luke "Fatboy" Sparos, is alleged to have paid $200,000 to a hit man to carry out the killing of a key Crown witness. Sparos was charged yesterday with the murder of father-of-two Gemahl Maika in south-western Sydney in April 2011. Get the full report here.

7.22am WORLD NEWS: This picture is unbelievable - check out the moment a pregnant woman was run over by a train in China - and SURVIVED. Amazing.

7.20am Do you remember Madeline, the little girl who lived with Ms Clavelle & walked with 11 other little girls in two straight lines? Well, this little lady is celebrating her 75th birthday today. And she doesn't look a day over eight!

7.18am TRAFFIC ALERT: There are some traffic lights out around Albion Park & Warilla after a power failure this morning. Be careful!

7.16am MOVIE NEWS: Rumours have been swelling that comedy queen Tina Fey was set to star in a sequel to the 1993 witchcraft comedy Hocus Pocus. Sadly, they were false. BUT - she is in with Disney over a supernatural feature, which has been referred to as "Untitled Witch Project" and is in the mould of Ghostbusters.

7.14am MUSIC NEWS: Beyonce took a little break from her On the Run tour yesterday to go swimming with the dolphins. Lucky duck!

7.12am SPORT: Essendon players will find out today whether they will be "named & shamed" over the supplement scandal.

7.10am NATIONAL: Mystery surrounds the death of Lance Corporal Todd John Chidgey, who was the 41st Australian soldier to die in Afghanistan. The 29-year-old, from Gosford, was found with gunshot wounds in an administration building at ADF headquarters in Kabul on Tuesday. His death is under investigation by the defence forces.

7.08am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Katy Perry has been accused of practising witchcraft. I kid you not. She's being sued by a Christian rapper who claims she turned one of his songs into "witchcraft." Mwahahaha!

7.06am Rolf Harris is set to be sentenced in London today. He's facing up to 24 years behind bars.

7.04am TV NEWS: Fans of Glee star Chris Colfer (who plays Kurt Hummell) were stunned overnight when the 24-year-old actor announced via Twitter that he had been sacked from the series. BUT - actually, Colfer's Twitter account had been hacked and, according to his employers, he is still employed. Phew!

7.02am LOCAL NEWS: Some of the state's brightest primary school children descended on the University of Wollongong this week, eager to keep their brains active during their mid-year break.

*Education reporter Kate Walsh has the full story here.

7am Tom Cruise is celebrating his 52nd birthday today - can you believe that?! Happy birthday to all the other July 4 babies.

6.56am Good morning! Welcome if you're just tuning in. Today is set to be a sunny day with a top of 19 degrees. All fine on the roads - watch out for some flashing yellow lights @ Caringbah (The Kingsway). Trains are on time.

6.54am Coffee lovers, I bring you a little Friday joke. Enjoy.

6.52am BREAKING: A 20-year-old man has handed himself in to police over a hit and run that killed a female pedestrian in Yagoona, in south-west Sydney yesterday. The victim has still not been identified. Police are calling for information.

6.50am His Boy Elroy is celebrating the Fourth of July with cheeseburgers & chicken wings. Yum! Head in for a true Yankee lunch.

6.48am STRANGE BUT TRUE: This is SO creepy - new research has suggested plants can hear themselves being eaten. Yes, you read right. Lettuce can hear you crunching it to death. Yeah, I think I'm done with salad.

6.46am LOCAL NEWS: Member for Shellharbour Anna Watson has called on the state government to continue a $1 annual lease for the Warilla Child Care Centre to allow it to stay open.

*Education reporter Kate Walsh has the full report here.

6.44am Thirroul's The Cave is hosting an '80s dance party tomorrow. Pop your hair in a side ponytail & get ready to dance! From 9pm until late.

6.42am NATIONAL: A 25-year-old male staff member at a popular Perisher ski resort was found dead in a creek next to a ski run after what police described as a ''snowboarding accident''. Click here for more information.

6.40am This Sunday is International Kissing Day. Ooooo! Pucker up to the one you love - or perhaps, the one you have a crush on.

6.38am Awwwww I love bulldogs. Look at this little boy, he's sleeping sitting up. This is how our bulldog sits sometimes, like a little human!

6.36am In some other world news this morning, a South African court has heard Oscar Pistorius has a "split personality".

6.34am MUSIC NEWS: Iggy Azalea has shot down rumours of a feud between her & Nicki Minaj. And well, she should - she is now Billboard's longest-leading No.1 female rapper. Her single Fancy has spent six weeks at the top of the US charts.

6.32am WORLD NEWS: Batten down the hatches North Carolina - Hurricane Arthur gained strength yesterday with winds forecast to exceed 160km per hour as it reaches the North Carolina coast.

6.31am This cat dressed up as Princess Leia is everything. This is why I want a small animal of my own!

6.30am Have you been keeping up with the Wollongong Eistedfodd? We've got all the latest from the classical ballet sections + results here.

6.28am CELEB GOSS ALERT: One hamburger please - that's what Chris Martin will be saying. He's given up being a vegetarian since his split from Gwyneth Paltrow. Maybe that's why they broke up - the man just wanted meat!

6.26am NATIONAL: A bid by Commonwealth Bank chief executive Ian Narev to defuse the financial planning scandal engulfing the bank by ''unreservedly'' apologising and opening a compensation scheme to 400,000 customers has been dismissed by victims, consumer groups and corporate governance experts. Get the full story here.

6.25am Have you tried a "cronut" from Lee & Me yet? Don't fret if you've missed out - the guys are getting more in from 7am today. Drool...

6.24am LOCAL SPORT: The Wollongong Hawks have re-signed Tim Coenraad & Larry Davidson for this season. Nice! Don't forget the first home game is October 10 at the WEC.

6.22am TV NEWS: The ABC has confirmed its high-rating Gruen franchise will not air this year – despite the broadcaster previously announcing it would be part of the 2014 line-up – and it may not return next year, either. Damn!

6.20am Three Chimneys bar & cafe were serving up a delicious spiced warm winter cider yesterday. Hope it stays on the menu for the weekend!

6.18am LOCAL NEWS: Illawarra environmentalists have backed a call from the state’s chief scientist for better monitoring of the impacts from coalmining and CSG operations on the water supply, saying it supports community concerns about the resources industry monitoring and reporting on itself.

*Reporter Ben Langford has the full story here.

6.16am A little Friday funny for you - this book dedication is hilarious. And very honest. Ouch for the family though!

6.15am And in some other world news this morning, an overpass in Brazil that was part of the World Cup infrastructure plan has collapsed onto vehicles below. The overpass in Cup host city Belo Horizonte collapsed on Thursday afternoon. At least one person has died and another 10 are injured.

6.13am Grab your favourite red, white & blue outfit - it's the Fourth of July! We're a little ahead of the US but we can start celebrating for them.

6.12am WORLD NEWS: Security at airports around the world will be tightened amid growing fears a new bomb is being developed by al-Qaeda.

6.10am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Actress Megan Fox is worth a whopping $7 million but she's been banned from Walmart for stealing a $7 lip-gloss. Please explain!?

6.08am And in national news (via the SMH):

*Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens has sent property investors a blunt warning to "take care" in Sydney's booming housing market, saying slower growth in house prices would be good for the economy.

*Forcing cyclists to take out a licence, as proposed by Duncan Gay, would put ''substantial'' costs on families and probably be ineffective – according to Duncan Gay. Get the full story here.

*The death of a surfer at Tamarama beach has the local community asking why they had to wait for a surf life guard to arrive from Bondi.

6.06am Here's what's making news in your Mercury today:

*The mother of a lawyer who died in a deliberately lit fire in her Wollongong home says she has dreams of her daughter screaming "mum, mum" as she was burnt alive. Get the full report here.

*Illawarra residents weigh more and worry more than other Australians, according to new research from the University of Wollongong and Illawarra Shoalhaven Medicare Local.

*Convicted rapist Terry John Williamson will spend another five years under the supervision of parole authorities after the NSW Supreme Court accepted he was a high-risk sex offender whose release from prison warranted prolonged precautions.

*Conveners of an emergency education summit at the University of Wollongong have called on Vice-Chancellor Paul Wellings to freeze fees for students starting any time in 2014 amid uncertainty over higher education reforms.

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

WEATHER Expect some patchy mist this morning, clearing to a sunny day with a top of 19 degrees. We'll have some light winds this afternoon. Tomorrow is set to be sunny with a top of 17. Expect a few showers on Sunday.

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

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

6am Good morning Illawarra & TGIF! We made it to the end of the week - just! Stay with your host this morning for all the latest news etc.


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