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

8.40am That's it from us this morning, wrapping up slightly early! Enjoy your Monday, stay warm!

8.38am The team at Three Chimneys have been baking. And it looks delish! Those cookies ... drool.

8.35am LOCAL NEWS: He may have helped plot their State of Origin demise but Dragons coach Paul McGregor says there is no special secret to stopping Queensland and Melbourne superstars Cameron Smith and Billy Slater.

8.32am Vitamin D is very important - so get out today & get your fill! Go for a walk outside in the sun & take short breaks every hour & 1/2.

8.30am POLITICS: The Australian government will question Brunei over its new criminal law regime – whose punishments include limb amputation for theft and stoning to death for adultery or homosexuality – before deciding whether to proceed with trade negotiations with the tiny, but oil-rich, Sultanate.

8.28am LOCAL NEWS: UOW was a hive of activity on Saturday as the second annual Humans vs Zombies fundraiser took over the grounds.

*Check out some very sick pics & learn a little more about this quirky fundraiser here.

8.26am CELEB NEWS: Shia LaBeouf is a hot mess. He went nuts in NYC over the weekend, trying to start a fight outside Studio 54. He was subsequently arrested.

8.24am WORLD NEWS: A teenage girl has died in Pakistan after being doused in petrol and set alight by a man who wanted to marry her but whose proposal had been rejected. It was the second brutal killing in Pakistan's Punjab province within days, after a 17-year-old girl and her husband were murdered by a group of relatives for marrying against their wishes.

8.22am A couple of little funnies for your Monday morning. Teehee, these are great!

8.20am MUSIC NEWS: The Soundwave Festival is expanding! It's set to be held over two days in different cities. It's coming to Sydney on Feb 28 & March 1. Diary date!

8.18am Can I just say I love pasta? I had it for dinner last night and I could eat it every night of the week. It is delicious, comfort food at its best. Here's some recipes for a range of different pasta dishes - oh yum, get in my mouth.

8.16am SPORT: The Dragons are taking on the Storm at WIN Stadium tonight. Gates open at 4.30pm.

8.14am The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse continues in Sydney today. The public hearing today will focus on cases linked to the Marist Brothers.

8.12am Wollongong Central is set to be home to the newest JB Hi Fi concept store when the centre expands later this year. It will have all the usual JB Hi Fi stuff + electrical appliances like ovens, fridges, computers & cameras.

8.10am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher headed out to watch the Dodgers play over the weekend. And they got a shout out from the team - their Facebook page posted a pic of them, with the caption "Jackie and Kelso Forever." Cute!

8.08am SPORT - World Cup: Greece are locked with Costa Rica 1-1. Extra time to come! Ooo quite the nail-biter!

8.07am LOCAL NEWS: A blogger is capturing the human face of Wollongong. Following on from the popular Humans of New York photoblog, Paul Pennell is travelling around the Gong, snapping people in the streets. Check out his work here.

8.04am These groomsmen are seriously hilarious. The performed a choreographed routine at their mate's wedding, opening with Beyonce's Crazy In Love before they lip-synced to the Backstreet Boys. Watch below - hilarious!

8.02am HEALTH: Eating five serves of vegetables every day could save our lives. Check out this story from the SMH on how important fruit & veg is!

8am MUSIC NEWS: Suzi Quatro is coming to Wollongong! She’ll perform at the WEC on February 17. Tickets available via Ticketmaster.

7.58am WORLD NEWS: Nigella Lawson's ex-husband Charles Saatchi is selling artworks depicting the moment when he throttled his former wife in a London cafe. Oh, yuck!

7.56am Good morning! Welcome if you're just tuning in. We're in for a mostly sunny day with a top of just 15 degrees. There is an accident atKiama (Princes Hwy near Saddleback Mountain Rd) causing a few headaches. Northbound traffic is affected. All good on the rail though!

7.54am If you missed this read on the weekend, grab a cuppa & settle in. Reporter Jodie Duffey has interviewed Professor Alison Jones - a toxicologist. Very interesting job!

7.52am MUSIC NEWS: The Glastonury festival has kicked off and already there are some amazing pics coming out. Think a group of male Dolly Parton impersonators. See below for evidence!

7.48am NATIONAL: Former real estate agent Gerard Baden-Clay is expected to return to the witness box in his murder trial today. Last week the 43-year-old choked back tears as he told the Brisbane Supreme Court how he fell in love with his wife and wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. (AAP)

7.46am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Is Ben Affleck a controlling husband? That's the rumour on the street! Actor Mark Ruffalo has blamed the end of his friendship with Jennifer Garner on her husband, one Mr Affleck. Ouchie!

7.44am LOCAL NEWS: Monday night’s closure of Keira Street will make it easier for buses to arrive on time, said Dion’s Bus Service boss Les Dion. Today is the last day you’ll be able to drive along the section of Keira Street between Market and Crown streets.

*Get the full report from Glen Humphries here.

7.42am Here's a little inspiration for your Monday morning...

7.40am Legally Blonde opens at the WIN Entertainment Centre this Friday! Have you got your tickets? There's still time! Grab them quick from - it's going to be a great show.

7.38am NATIONAL: There are growing fears that the ABC's international arm in Victoria will be decimated as the national broadcaster grapples with the axing of Australia Network.

7.36am MUSIC NEWS: Sting & Paul Simon have teamed up & are touring Australia! They'll travel around wineries & arenas next February. MUST GET TIX!

7.34am WORLD NEWS: The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – Sunni militants fighting across Syria and Iraq – have proclaimed the establishment of a “caliphate” in a move that experts say could signal the birth of a new era of transnational jihadism. Read more here.

7.32am SPORT - World Cup: The Netherlands have beat Mexico 2-1, scoring twice in the dying minutes, to advance through to the quarter-finals.

7.30am Have you been following the Wollongong Eistedfodd? Over the weekend, it was all about dance troupes. Check out the results & some very cute pics here.

7.28am Nutella fans, oh boy do I have good news for you. I've found a Nutella ice-cream machine. You're welcome.

7.26am Ever heard of nomophobia? In short, it means fear of being without a mobile. And it could be making us sick. I am more than happy to admit that I absolutely suffer from this. My phone died last week & I didn't have a replacement for a day and I was irritable and stressed. Read more about it here.

7.24am SPORT: Aussie teenager Nick Kyrgios believes he can beat Rafael Nadal in Round of 16 at Wimbledon. Now, THAT I would love to see!

7.22am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Miley Cyrus has a new man in her life - and his name is Emu. She's bought herself a new pup. A little Rough Collie, awww.

7.20am LOCAL NEWS: For the second year running the NSW government budget papers don't give any dates for the completion of key local infrastructure projects, Kiama Labor candidate Glenn Kolomeitz said.

*Alex Arnold has the full report.

7.18am Looking for some inspiration in the kitchen this week? Tired of two-minute noodles? Hehe. Here's a handy meal planner - the roast lamb looks amaze!

7.16am MOVIE NEWS: One of Philip Seymour Hoffman's last films, A Most Wanted Man, is due to hit cinemas on July 31. It also stars Rachel McAdams and Robyn Wright.

7.14am Today is National Ice-cream Soda day in the US. The Democratic Republic of Congo also celebrates its national day today.

7.12am STRANGE BUT TRUE: Western Australia is likely to have a local government called South Park with the merger of the South Perth and Victoria Park councils. Ha! But the locals seem to like it - in a survey of 4000 people, 52 per cent backed the name change.

7.10am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Girls creator Lena Dunham played bridesmaid over the weekend for her best friend's wedding. And she looked very pretty too!

7.08am LOCAL SPORT: Oscar Foreman has signed with the Wollongong Hawks for another two seasons. Nice!

7.06am WORLD NEWS: Egypt's military has pressed ahead with promotion of a device it claims can diagnose and cure AIDS and hepatitis, announcing that it would be tested in the next six months.The military's supposedly miraculous medical device - a metal gizmo that has been described as resembling a kitchen hand mixer - drew wide ridicule when it was unveiled in February.

7.04am SPORT - World Cup: Thousands of Greek fans have gathered inside the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens to watch Greece take on Costa Rica. Wow! Score is nil all at halftime.

7.02am LOCAL NEWS: Bulli has a new farmers' market. Can't wait! The Foragers Market kicks off on July 13. Get the full story from reporter Bree Fuller here.

7am STRANGE BUT TRUE: I'm smashing these out this morning! So, I have found someone with a VERY weird job. A woman in the US is a ... drum roll please ... professional cuddler. Yep, she hugs people for money - and she makes $60 an hour!

6.58am TV NEWS: Family Feud is back! Yep, it's coming to channel 10 on July 14. Get all the deets on the reboot here. NB I LOVE Family Feud - thinking of entering my fam!

6.56am Good morning! Welcome if you're just tuning in. We're in for a mostly sunny day with a top of just 15 degrees. All good on the roads & rail.

6.54am STRANGE BUT TRUE: This picture was taken on a subway in New York. I don't even know what to say. Grass man?

6.52am What was happening in the news 10 years ago today? Can't remember? Me either - thank goodness we've got a helpful flashback gallery with all the big stories from the Merc in June 2004.

6.50am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Elton John has called on the church to support same-sex marriage, noting "Jesus would support same-sex marriage." Well, he was a pretty cool dude.

6.48am WORLD NEWS: It is believed vital clues to missing flight MH370’s location could have been lost due to lack of communication between Malaysia Airlines and the jet.

6.46am NATIONAL: An upmarket hotel, a transport interchange and new one-way roads have been proposed to tackle the traffic nightmares plaguing Sydney Airport. Get the full story here.

6.44am Game of Thrones fans, have I found the cutest parody ever for you! This video shows three pugs playing the canine versions of Joffrey Baratheon, Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen and other major characters from the series. Enjoy.

6.42am LOCAL NEWS: Albion Park Rail mother Sylvia Connolly is praying a community fund-raiser can provide her family with a wheelchair-accessible vehicle so she can take her little girl on outings.

*Read the full story from health reporter Lisa Waschmuth here.

6.40am NATIONAL: City pubs and clubs may soon be granted exemptions from the state's tough 1.30am lockout laws, but in most cases, only for their pokies lounges. The Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing has confirmed it is assessing six applications from venues in the CBD entertainment precinct, five of which want exemptions for their gaming rooms only.

6.38am MUSIC NEWS: Beyonce & Jay-Z have really ripped Justin Bieber to shreds. They screened his mug shot during their On the Run tour in Miami, noting "even the greatest can fall." Ouch!

6.36am TV NEWS: The Voice live finals continue tonight from 7.30pm. Kylie Minogue is also performing her new track Sexy Love.

6.35am LOCAL SPORT: Helensburgh consolidated their place at the top of the Illawarra Coal League ladder with a convincing 40-14 win over Collegians at a wind-blown Rex Jackson Oval on Sunday.

6.34am WORLD NEWS: Five years after a NASA satellite to track carbon dioxide plunged into the ocean after lift-off, the US space agency is launching a carbon copy – this time on a different rocket. The $US468 million ($506.36 million) mission is designed to study the main driver of climate change emitted from smokestacks and tailpipes.

6.32am Looking for something to keep the kids entertained now school holidays are here? Check out Wollongong Council's great activities below.

6.30am Okay, so I know I don't normally spruik sales BUT Peter Alexander have a ridiculous sale on PJs & their amazing uggies. I bought some super-warm pale pink uggies yet for $63, down from $100. DO IT!

6.28am MUSIC NEWS: Excitable 5 Seconds of Summer fans have queued up overnight in the cold to get their hands on the band's first full album, which promptly went to the top of the iTunes albums chart. The band also had the number one single, Kiss Me Kiss Me, and a remarkable seven songs among the top 50 singles. NB This might make me sound old but ... WHO? Am I losing my coolness?!

6.26am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Singer Jessica Simpson is saying "screw you!" to tradition - she's picked a pink wedding dress! Sweet.

6.24am NATIONAL: One of the most senior members of the Catholic Church has been charged with a child sex offence, the Church has confirmed. Bishop Max Davis, who was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1998, has stood aside from his post as bishop of the Australian Defence Force while the matter is before a Western Australian court.

6.22am EWWW: A KFC in Newcastle, England has served a mother and her step-son a delicious deep-fried blue hand towel. GROSS!

6.20am LOCAL NEWS: A 47-year-old woman died in a two-car collision in Yanderra in the Southern Highlands on Saturday.

*Get the full report on the crash here.

6.18am SPORT - World Cup: Uraguay is still defending its "biter" Luis Suarez. The coach has said: "we all know the things that happened, but we had to take only positive things out of that situation. In fact, it gave us a lot of strength for this game. We really wanted to win." Wha!? A fan described Suarez as a "good boy with a problem." Riiiiiight.

6.16am STRANGE BUT TRUE: The world's tallest and fastest water slide is set to open in the US state of Kansas this week. Looks terrifying!

6.15am TV NEWS: Have you been watching The Voice Kids? I flicked over for 10 minutes last night - and these kids are ridiculous. One 12-year-old girl had an absolutely ROCKING voice. Scary talented. Anywho, here's a recap if you missed it.

6.14am Wollongong is having a writers festival! Cool! It's on October 10 and 11. They'll be panels & workshops. Pop the dates in your diary.

6.12am WORLD NEWS: Oscar Pistorius will be back in the dock in South Africa today after undergoing mental health tests, which could change the course of his murder trial.

6.10am NATIONAL:  A man imprisoned for almost a year on false claims of sexual assault is suing the police amid a "terrible and wicked climate" for sex crimes prosecutions.

6.08am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Kelly Osbourne got a new tattoo over the weekend - on the side of her head. Yep, she got the word "stories" etched into a shaved section of her head. First, ow. Second, why!?

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

*Tens of thousands of people could be moved off pension payments, and young people would have their spending supervised while on the dole, under changes foreshadowed by a federal government review.

*Todd Carney’s NRL scandal plagued career appears over after Cronulla sacked the five-eighth after a photo of him engaging in a vulgar act circulated on social media on Saturday night.

*Sydney dominates Australia’s ‘‘creative industries’’, the city enjoying a disproportionate share of the $45 billion-a-year sector thanks to its strengths in marketing, media, design and IT, a report has found.

*For decades, Australians have ended a big evening out with a flourish of the pen, but on August 1, signatures will be abolished from credit cards, infuriating restaurateurs who say costs will soar while tips plummet.

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

*Two brothers faced Wollongong bail court on Sunday over an ‘‘alcohol-fuelled’’ brawl in which a man was smashed in the head with a glass bottle and then stomped and kicked while on the ground.

*A 23-year-old Helensburgh man died on Saturday after a quad bike crash near Goulburn.

*A Kanahooka mum says a cheap knock-off USB charger saved her money, but almost cost her son his life.

*Development applications recently lodged to Wollongong City Council spell out the future for the eating-out elbow of the mall, with Mexican eatery Beach Burrito and Hungarian-style patisserie Kürtosh moving into Globe Lane.

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

WEATHER It's cold. That is all. No, not really - we're in for a mostly sunny day with a top of just 15 degrees. It's still windy out there too so rug up!

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

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

6am Good morning Illawarra! It's the start of the working week - and officially the end of the financial year. Stay with us this morning for all the latest news etc.


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