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

8.39am That's it from us this morning! Tune in tomorrow for Thursday's edition of the Rush.

8.33am SPORT: Reigning champion Bernard Tomic rekindled his love affair with Sydney on Tuesday night, steamrolling No.8 seed Marcel Granollers in front of his father John Tomic to claim his sixth consecutive victory at the Sydney International.

8.31am WORLD NEWS: Princess Cristina, the youngest daughter of King Juan Carlos of Spain, has been charged with committing tax fraud and money laundering, an investigating judge announced on Tuesday.

8.26am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Jake Gyllenhaal is back on the market! The actor and Sports Illustrated model Alyssa Miller have called it quits after six months together

8.24am LOCAL NEWS: Wollongong MP Noreen Hay looks set to face a preselection challenge ahead of next year's state election, with long-term party member Paul Scully announcing his bid to be the seat's next Labor candidate.

8.22am SPORT: Newcastle Knights officials have resisted a public outcry to immediately sack Russell Packer, insisting they have a ‘‘duty of care’’ to the jailed prop and his family.

8.17am BREAKING: A Gold Coast lifeguard accused of running over a man and woman on a beach has been charged. Police say the pair, aged in their 20s, were lying on a beach in Surfers Paradise when a slow-moving lifeguard vehicle ran them over. Both suffered non-life-threatening injuries and were taken to hospital for treatment following the December 23 incident. Police have charged a 24-year-old Gold Coast man with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle. He will appear in Southport Magistrates Court on February 5.The incident is still being reviewed by Gold Coast City council.

8.03am TRAFFIC ALERT - Beverly Hills: slow traffic eastbound M5 at King Georges Rd.

8.01am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield has caused controversy in the UK where he is appearing on UK Celebrity Big Brother. Holyfield has said that being sexually attracted to the opposite sex is a choice and that being gay is ‘not normal’ but an affliction that can be “fixed” with the care of a good doctor. His comments were condemned by producers.

7.59am SPORT: Socceroos star Mark Bresciano has been cleared to play for the Socceroos at this year's World Cup in Brazil despite his ongoing appeal against a four-month FIFA ban. The Court of Arbitration for Sport rejected Bresciano's application for a stay of proceedings but took into account his aspirations of playing at the World Cup which kicks off in June. (SMH)

7.57am BREAKING: A rare 1970 Rennmax race car,worth $320,000, has been found, less than 12km from where it was stolen. The yellow race car, with the Repco Brabham engine used by Sir Jack Brabham to win the world championship, was stolen from a factory in southeast Melbourne some time between 11am on December 21 and 10am on December 22. A passer-by saw the car on the side of a road in Belgrave South about 12.30am last night and called police. The car will be returned to its owners later in the day, police say. (AAP)

7.55am Here's what's making news in your Mercury today:

*The number of long suspensions handed out in the Illawarra has increased over the past five years, with almost 2000 handed out to students in 2012.

*More than 2000 cub scouts have travelled from across NSW to spend an action-packed week at the fifth NSW State Cuboree at Cataract Scout Park, near Appin.

*A Wollongong man allegedly instigated a violent attack against the unsuspecting passengers of a car sitting idle in front of him, punching a woman before he kicked and bit one of the men in the vehicle, a court has heard.

*A shocking year for cyclist fatalities has prompted the NSW Greens to call on the state government to introduce a new law requiring motorists to maintain a gap of at least one metre between themselves and bicycle riders.

7.53am Good morning, happy hump day Wednesday! If you're just getting up to face the day, we'll try to ease you into it by giving you all the latest weather, traffic and trains for your Wed morn.

WEATHER People, I'm not going to lie to you - it's yucky out there. The forecast is for light showers with a top of 20 degrees. It's expected to be cloudy for most of the day. Right now, it's 15 degrees in Bellambi & Albion Park.

TRAFFIC Everything looks okay for the run around the region. There is an accident at Mascot (General Holmes Drive near the airport). One northbound lane is closed. Traffic is heavy, expect delays.

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

7.50am WORLD NEWS: Remember that guy who slapped a kid on a plane? Well, he's been jailed.

7.48am The Illawarra Folk Festival is on next week - and we're giving away tickets! Enter here for your chance to win a double pass.

7.46am BREAKING NEWS: A man who was being chased by police on the NSW-Victoria border evaded officers by jumping into the Murray River and swimming to a small island, police say. The 37-year-old man, who allegedly was armed with a knife, remained on the island for more than two hours before he was arrested by police. (SMH)

7.44am STRANGE BUT TRUE: Proving just how damn cold it is in the US at the moment, an escapee inmate has turned himself in, preferring to go back to the warmth of his cell then fend for himself in the cold!

7.42am LOCAL NEWS: Craig Whiddett, of Figtree, blew tyres and burnt rubber to take out third place in the Summernats 2014 Burnout Masters last weekend. Mr Whiddett and his VK Commodore won the chance to compete at an international level, as the prize included a trip to Summernats Malaysia to showcase his skills in August.

7.40am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Cameron Diaz has released a book, recounting her own struggles with junk food, acne and exercise.

7.36am LOCAL SPORT: Sometimes tradesman Kurt Goldman will have an extra spring in his step in Magic Millions week - and it has nothing to do with returning to the scene of his career highlight. The young Kembla Grange trainer has been confirmed to take over from Danny Williams as trainer for former Wallaby Alan Cardy on his Goulburn property. The ex-rodeo rider will start later this month after Williams was granted the Sydney foreman job for dual-state trainer Tony McEvoy

7.34am Looking for something to do these school holidays? Check out our school holiday guide here.

7.32am If you missed this story yesterday, the pics have to be seen to be believed - who would take a selfie during an emergency landing!? I would be gripping the side of my seat for dear life! 

A Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 superjumbo made an emergency landing in Azerbaijan on Monday due to a loss of cabin pressure, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded at the airport in the capital, Baku.

7.30am How many of us grab lunch on the go from our local food court? Ever wondered how many calories are actually in your fave lunch-time snack? This will alarm you....

http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/diet-and-fitness/how-many-calories-in-food-court-favourites-20140107-30emc.html

7.27am I firmly believe the world is in need of a really good celeb wedding. Who would you like to see get hitched this year? Brad and Ange? Jen & Justin? Kim & Kanye?

7.24am LOCAL NEWS: The region's Macedonian community celebrated Christmas Day yesterday by attending mass at Wollongong's Macedonian Orthodox Church, lighting candles and praying to commemorate Christ's birth. Check out our gallery from the celebrations here.

7.22am Don't forget to tune into Pulse 94.1FM every hour to get the latest news headlines from the Rush. You can here your host with a nasty head cold today - I sound slightly mannish, apologies!

7.21am BREAKING: A man is due to face court after being charged over the stabbing murder of a man on the NSW mid-north coast on New Years Day. Police say emergency services were called to a Port Macquarie home on the morning of January 1, following reports of a stabbing. A 44-year-old man with stab wounds was found at the scene and attempts to resuscitate him failed. Detectives from Strike Force Supel arrested a 33-year-old man at a house in Toormina yesterday. He was taken to Coffs Harbour Police station where he was charged with murder and a warrant for revocation of parole. The man was refused bail to appear in Coffs Harbour Local Court today. (AAP)

7.16am SPORT: Less than a year after Penrith released Michael Jennings to the Sydney Roosters, the Panthers found someone capable of filling the centre's shoes - Jamal Idris. In a shock move, Idris joined the Panthers from the Gold Coast yesterday for the next three NRL seasons. It is a swap for fellow centre Brad Tighe, who moved to the Titans on a two-year deal.

7.14am Are your kids up at the Cuboree at Appin? Check out our gallery of pics here - looks like they're having a great time!

7.12am Have you booked your tickets to see Joseph & the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat at Roo Theatre yet? I'm hearing very good things. It opens this Friday. Head over to the theatre company's website for more information.

7.10am MUSIC NEWS: Poor ol' Lady Gaga. She has been forced to defend the label that released her third album, Artpop, which lost millions of dollars, and has criticised the "greed" of some of those closest to her.

7.08am BREAKING WORLD NEWS: Michael Schumacher's wife has called on reporters to stay away from the French hospital where he is being treated for life-threatening injuries from a skiing accident, and to leave her family alone. Read more here.

7.06am Beatchwatch has warned pollution is possible in Bellambi & Corrimal beaches today, due to the wet weather. Take care if you're thinking of swimming around there.

7.04am LOCAL NEWS: The Kiama International Seaside Arts Festival - or KISS - has popped up for the third year in the surrounds of Hindmarsh Park, hosting a clutch of trapeze artists, clowns, vaudevillians and cabaret acts from as far as Israel, Switzerland and Hungary. (PS how awesome is the pic with this story - gee we have some talented snappers in here!)

7.02am TIARA ALERT: The Queen has made a request of her grandson Prince Harry - get rid of his beard! Good to know even royal grandparents can be bossy!

7am CELEB GOSS ALERT: The niece of fashion designer Ralph Lauren was arraigned on Tuesday on charges of being dangerously drunk, threatening and verbally abusive on a New York-bound plane, forcing it to land in Ireland. Jewellery designer Jenny Lauren was arrested Monday after a Delta flight from Barcelona, Spain, made an unscheduled two-hour stop at Shannon, the major airport in western Ireland, to remove her from the plane.

6.57am Want to win some truly sweet tickets to see the Great Gatsby at the IMB's Sunset Cinema in the Botanic Gardens? Enter our competition here. Quick, entries close on Sunday.

6.55am BREAKING POLITICS: Liberal MP Warren Entsch has launched an extraordinary attack on Cory Bernardi, saying he is worried by his colleague's ''obsession'' with gay people. Read more here.

6.53am Let's have a look at what's making news in your Mercury today:

*The number of long suspensions handed out in the Illawarra has increased over the past five years, with almost 2000 handed out to students in 2012.

*More than 2000 cub scouts have travelled from across NSW to spend an action-packed week at the fifth NSW State Cuboree at Cataract Scout Park, near Appin.

*A Wollongong man allegedly instigated a violent attack against the unsuspecting passengers of a car sitting idle in front of him, punching a woman before he kicked and bit one of the men in the vehicle, a court has heard.

*A shocking year for cyclist fatalities has prompted the NSW Greens to call on the state government to introduce a new law requiring motorists to maintain a gap of at least one metre between themselves and bicycle riders.

6.51am Good morning, happy hump day Wednesday! If you're just getting up to face the day, we'll try to ease you into it by giving you all the latest weather, traffic and trains for your Wed morn.

WEATHER People, I'm not going to lie to you - it's yucky out there. The forecast is for light showers with a top of 20 degrees. It's expected to be cloudy for most of the day. Right now, it's 15 degrees in Bellambi & 14 in Albion Park.

TRAFFIC Everything looks okay for the run around the region & to Sydney.

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

6.49am Would you know how to spot a rip? If you're not sure, get along to North Gong Surf Club tomorrow for a talk with the region's own "Dr Rip" who will explain it all. Details below.

6.47am LOCAL SPORT: Sydney FC's Caitlin Foord hopes bagging her first hat-trick in the W-League is the start of a rich vein of form after returning from a long stint on the sidelines through injury. The Lake Illawarra product banged three goals past a lacklustre Perth Glory defence in Sydney's 8-2 rout at Kogarah.

6.45am WORLD NEWS: In what I can only describe as a truly odd relationship, American basketball star Dennis Rodmanhas expressed "love" for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and has claimed his controversial trip was a "great idea for the world". The basketballer defended his latest visit to North Korea in an interview with broadcaster CNN yesterday, saying it would help "open the door" to the reclusive state.

6.43am LOCAL NEWS: Wollongong Council launched its annual Aus Day celebrations yesterday - and the line-up of events looks great! Check the story out here for all the deets. And start training for the Aquathon!

6.41am The Mercury’s sport journos will be launching some new columns this year. Watch out for some great new content!

6.39am BREAKING NEWS: Motorists headed towards Sydney on the M1 are experiencing lengthy delays after a collision between two trucks on the Central Coast. A driver of one of the trucks was injured in the collision near the Mooney Mooney Creek Bridge, at Calga, about 3.50am this morning. The injured driver was trapped in the wreckage and freed by emergency crews around 5.45am. He has been airlifted to hospital in a stable condition, police say. Two of three southbound lanes have been closed due to the incident, with traffic queued back about 6km. (AAP)

6.37am STRANGE BUT TRUE: Game of Thrones fans, lend me your ear - Westeros may not be anyone's ideal place to live, but one town in rural England is giving it a shot. For one week at least. The historic town of Kings Langley, located in the county of Hertfordshire just outside of London, is changing its name to "King's Landing" for a week in February to celebrate the DVD release of the third season of Game of Thrones.

6.35am MUSIC NEWS: Huge news for Fergie fans - she's set to release another solo album this year.

6.33am LOCAL NEWS: A Fairy Meadow man allegedly slashed his girlfriend's wrist with a large hunting knife, using the weapon, which was given to him for Christmas, to create a deep wound in her arm, Wollongong Local Court has heard. Read more here.

6.31am POLITICS: Qantas has urged the Abbott government to design its direct action climate policy to encourage more efficient aircraft, better air-traffic management and less fuel usage.

6.29am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Say it isn't so - rumours are abounding that there is trouble between Harry Styles & the rest of the One-D clan.

6.27am SPORT: Our Aussie cricketers won't have time to rest with the One Day Series set to begin on Sunday - six test stars are in line for selection. (Nine News)

6.25am TRAFFIC ALERT - GERRINGONG: Motorists should be aware of changed traffic conditions on the Princes Highway b/w Mount Pleasant and Toolijooa Road next week..The RMS will carry out preparation work for the Princes Highway Gerringong upgrade on Monday, January 13 and Tuesday, January 14 between 6pm and 7am, weather permitting. During the work partial lane closures and reduced speed limits will be in place.

6.23am The Sydney festival kicks off tomorrow in the city. There are a heap of great activities, including some free events, perfect for the whole family. For more information and to book tickets, visit www.sydneyfestival.org.au

6.21am STRANGE BUT (SADLY) TRUE: The Victorian man who became stuck in a washing machine while naked has put his own spin on the tale, saying his rescue felt similar to being born. He also gave his rescuers a serve for using his "good" olive oil to help free him from the device. Oh this story has everything!

6.17am LOCAL SPORT: Wollongong import Kevin Tiggs is keen to make his high-flying routine a regular occurrence on-court for the Hawks. The American guard set the game alight in the closing stages of the Hawks's 96-91 win over the ladder leaders with a huge alley-oop play and is determined to keep his show reel rolling this weekend when Wollongong head to Cairns.

6.15am MOVIE GOSS: Ab Fab fans, rejoice! Sweetie, darling, there is going to be a movie!

6.13am WORLD NEWS: As the "polar vortex" bringing record low temperatures crept across America on Monday, the cold became so intense that for a time it became difficult to describe. Some weather forecasters began to simply refer to “dangerous cold” and newspapers published tips on avoiding frostbite and lung damage.

6.11am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Gwyneth Paltrow is doing a post-Christmas detox, which would put us all to shame. She be crazy!

6.08am Here's the national headlines, thanks to the SMH:

*Australian pathologists will perform an autopsy on the bodies of the Sunshine Coast mother and daughter who mysteriously died in Bali.

*Bulldogs rugby league player Reni Maitua will seek to have his charges of assaulting a taxi driver dealt with under mental health legislation.

*Two men with a history of violence have been banned from large venues in Kings Cross for a year under the first use of special powers introduced following the death of teenager Thomas Kelly.

6.07am Let's have a look at what's making news in your Mercury today:

*The number of long suspensions handed out in the Illawarra has increased over the past five years, with almost 2000 handed out to students in 2012.

*More than 2000 cub scouts have travelled from across NSW to spend an action-packed week at the fifth NSW State Cuboree at Cataract Scout Park, near Appin.

*A Wollongong man allegedly instigated a violent attack against the unsuspecting passengers of a car sitting idle in front of him, punching a woman before he kicked and bit one of the men in the vehicle, a court has heard.

*A shocking year for cyclist fatalities has prompted the NSW Greens to call on the state government to introduce a new law requiring motorists to maintain a gap of at least one metre between themselves and bicycle riders.

6.04am If you're just getting up to face the day, we'll try to ease you into it by giving you all the latest weather, traffic and trains for your Wed morn.

WEATHER People, I'm not going to lie to you - it's yucky out there. The forecast is for light showers with a top of 20 degrees. Right now, it's raining and gross, booooo. It's expected to be cloudy for most of the day. It's 15 degrees in Bellambi & Albion Park.

TRAFFIC Everything looks okay for the run around the region & to Sydney.

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

6am Good morning! We made it to the middle of the week, huzzah! Only two days to go until the weekend, yippee! Stay with us this morning for all your news etc - we've got it all!

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