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

8.50am That's it for today's Morning Rush. Come back tomorrow for another hit of the latest news and online buzz. Have a lovely day!

8.44am It's the dream - taking a year off work to travel the world. Unfortunately, it's not always practical - but here are some tips to help you do it.

8.40am Here's a cute animal for your Thursday morning. Rays, both manta and sting, always look so happy! 

8.36am LOCAL NEWS Kiama Mayor Brian Petschler says his council is unlikely to try to sell any additional parcels of community land until issues surrounding four identified properties in Kiama and Gerringong are resolved.

8.32am WORLD NEWS A Nebraskan teen has found his quick selfie retweeted hundreds of times - he managed to snap Paul McCartney and Warren Buffet chilling on a bench. 

8.28am SPORT Australian rep Sophie Schetor was unaware there was a "player of the carnival" award until her named was read out.

Now she has her sights firmly on playing netball at the highest level after being named in the 18-years national squad. Tim Barrow spoke to her.

8.24am On this day in 1918, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and his immediate family were murdered; in 1948 the South Korean constitution was proclaimed; in 1955 Disneyland was opened by Walt Disney and in 1998 a tsunami destroyed 10 villages and killed thousands in Papua New Guinea.

8.20am LOCAL NEWS Police have released CCTV images of a man they would like to talk to after a fraudulent cheque was allegedly used to pay for a car in Fairy Meadow earlier this year. 

Picture: NSW Police

Picture: NSW Police

8.16am Wicked Campers have apologised to a woman over an offensive slogan sports by on their vans, and has said they will change any "insensitive" vehicles. It comes as Senators agreed to condemn the company for its controversial marketing tactics. SMH

8.12am Applications are now open for this year's Viva La Gong festival.

8.08am LOCAL NEWS The annual Purple Ribbon Exhibition, showing recent example of the group’s work, opened at the Old Court House in Wollongong at the weekend. It finishes on Sunday, so make sure to look at the beautiful artworks, created by survivors of childhood abuse.

8.04am Start warming up those pipes - open mic night is back at Red Square.

It's 8am and right now it's almost 13 degrees. On the plus side, the day isn't look quite so dreary as the start of the week.

7.56am The Foragers market is on every Sunday of the month at Bulli showground. The inaugural event last weekend was a roaring success, so make sure to check it out if you didn't get a chance.

7.52am The AFL has approved a new range of football-themed hijabs, which went on sale yesterday. Designer Shanaaz Copeland had been making hijabs in team colours for her friends and family for years, and thought there would be a wider market for the item. DAILY LIFE

7.48am The Acca Daiquiris are on at the Blue Diamond Bar, Kiama Sebel, between 7pm and 10pm Friday night.

7.44am LOCAL NEWS A pizza delivery driver and a family visiting Wollongong for the weekend were victims of two separate robbery attempts by the same man, a court has heard.

7.40am  Take a look at this photo from Lost Wollongong - Bunker's Garage at the bottom of Bulli Pass in the 1930s

7.36am SPORT Israel Folau and his manager, Isaac Moses, were spotted in discussions with the NRL's head of football, Todd Greenberg, at the Azure Cafe at Allianz Stadium on Wednesday, sparking speculation Folau will return to NRL. SMH

7.32am Harsh, but hilarious. Argentinians might not think so, though.

7.30am WORLD NEWS 21st Century Fox, the empire run by Rupert Murdoch, made an $80 billion takeover bid in recent weeks for Time Warner but was rebuffed. SMH

7.24am SPORT Just when St George Illawarra thought they had their man, the Gold Coast are preparing to make a stunning bid for Wayne Bennett. 

7.20am Former Panama dictator Manuel Noriega is suing the makers of video game Call of Duty: Black Ops II for depicting him in the game without his permission.

7.16am July 17 is yellow pig day. While this seems rather specific and like nothing you’ve ever seen in nature, the celebration originated in the 1960s when two students at Princeton became obsessed with analysing the number 17 and decided to invent a yellow pig with 17 toes, 17 teeth, etc etc. It’s a bit of an odd one.

7.12am LOCAL NEWS Kiama Municipal Council's plans for the Kiama Hospital site have passed another milestone with councillors endorsing the latest concept design for the $55 million aged care project.

7.08am Educators have condemned co-chairman of the government's national curriculum review Kevin Donnelly for supporting corporal punishment in schools. SMH

7.04am 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

It's 7am and the suns is trying to shine. Right now it's 11.9 degrees, roads around the Illawarra are clear and trains are supposedly on time.

6.56am LOCAL NEWS Ruthie Lawson's daughter Velvet had quite a dramatic entry into the world on June 25 - the Dombarton mum gave birth standing up on a verandah in the middle of a howling gale.

6.52 TRAFFIC ALERT If you’re heading to the Wollongong CBD today, don’t forget Keira Street is closed between Market Street and Crown Street for the next few months. Pedestrians can still get through.

6.48am A fundraising website has been set up to grant African refugee Tumezghi Tesfay his wish to join other refugees and migrants on a trip to Canberra to learn about Australian culture.

Mr Tesfay was violently bashed at five days after arriving in the country.

To donate, click

6.44am Diggies' Le Tour De France wine dinner is on tonight.

6.40am STRANGE BUT TRUE Jennifer Lopez now has a water mite named after her, after the new species was discovered in Puerto Rico. It's official name is the Litarachna lopezae mite - wonder if it will get L.Lo for short? SMH

6.36am The Wild Rumpus Makers Market is on Sunday, at Anita's Theatre, Thirroul, from noon to 4pm. Thirroul's Flame Tree Community Food Co-op will be there offering some sweet treats AND the recipes to make a bigger batch at home.

Stephanie Meades and Mariel Hiney-Wilms will help find creative ways to work superfoods into your diet at the Flame Tree Community Food Co-op stand at the Wild Rumpus Makers Markets. Picture: KIRK GILMOUR

Stephanie Meades and Mariel Hiney-Wilms will help find creative ways to work superfoods into your diet at the Flame Tree Community Food Co-op stand at the Wild Rumpus Makers Markets. Picture: KIRK GILMOUR

6.32am Having trouble starting the car on this chilly morning? Check your battery. Winter is the most likely time for cars to experience flat batteries - the number of callouts for dead batteries increases by 26 per cent in winter and autumn.

6.28am LOCAL NEWS Kiama councillors have resolved to allow dogs to swim in the Minnamurra River on a trial basis, despite opposition from government agencies and council staff.

6.24am Celebrating with a birthday cake today are actor Donald Sutherland, ‘‘actor’’ David Hasselhoff (who’s turning 61, by the way) and German leader Angela Merkel.

6.20am Are you already craving a morning coffee? You might be particular about where you go for your morning brew once you get to work, but a new study has revealed Australians are secretly instant coffee loves. We’ve been exposed! On that note, if anyone wants to bring me a coffee, go nuts. Good Food

6.16am Did you catch the gorgeous sunset on Wednesday afternoon? Luckily the Merc photographers did - have a look at these fiery photos.

6.12am LOCAL SPORT  The Hawks have re-signed Dave Gruber on a one-year contract.

6.08am Let’s take a look at the national headlines, courtesy of the SMH

*HIV diagnoses have reached a 20-year high in Australia and there are fears one in seven people with the virus do not know they have it, putting more people at risk. 

*A dramatic decline in smoking rates has coincided with the introduction of plain-packaging laws. Most people are now 16 before they smoke their first full cigarette, up from 14 in 2010, and 95 per cent of 12 to 17-year-olds have never smoked.

*Liberal senator James McGrath has set out a radical libertarian program in his maiden speech, calling for the GST rate to rise to 15 per cent, federal health and education departments to be abolished and for the immediate sell-off of youth radio station triple J.

6.05am Here’s what’s making news in your Mercury today

*Plans to build a massive recycling plant on part of the recently demolished Port Kembla stack site have been knocked on the head before they got off the ground.

*A Lake Illawarra woman’s false claim that she was the victim of multiple sexual assaults wasted thousands of dollars  of policing resources, a court has heard. 

*A hacksaw was needed to free a four-year-old boy after he became stuck in a piece of PVC pipe at a Helensburgh childcare centre on Tuesday afternoon. 

*The historic Yallah Woolshed site could soon become a hostel for young people at risk of homelessness if plans lodged by Wollongong's Lighthouse Church are given approval.

6.02am Let’s take a look at the roads and the skies

WEATHER Another wintery day day, with a top temp of 17 degrees. There’s a chance of rain this morning, but it should be a mostly sunny afternoon.

TRAFFIC Looking good around the Illawarra this morning. There are ongoing roadworks at Gerringong and Mount Ousley.

TRAINS There is good service on the South Coast line.

6am Happy Thursday! Welcome to today's edition of Morning Rush.