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

8.40am That's it from us this morning. Tune in tomorrow for Tuesday's edition of the Rush. Kate Walsh is taking the reins as Emma has two glorious days off! Yippee!

8.38am SPORT: Cadel Evans may have age against him, but the 36-year-old Victorian still has what it takes to be a contender for this year's Giro d'Italia, says former Tour de France rival Frank Schleck. (SMH)

8.33am Oh the drama that has erupted over the whole "don't take your kids to fancy restaurants" debate. Personally, I can see both sides of the argument - but I wouldn't take my kid to a fancy place. Mummy needs two hands to eat her $50 steak.

8.30am The team at Three Chimneys have been baking - and it looks delish!

8.27am TRAIN ALERT: Passengers on the North Shore line travelling to the city should allow extra travel time after a train had mechanical problems earlier.

8.26am LOCAL SPORT: The Rail endured one of its darkest days after being forced to forfeit its second innings against Kookas on Saturday for having just six eligible players at Oakleigh Park. Kookas headed into day two coasting towards an outright victory after posting 4-317 on day one and having the Razorbacks reeling at 9-85.

8.23am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Helen Mirren has given her candid thoughts on ageing in the entertainment industry. The woman is an absolute champion.

8.20am NATIONAL: A man who armed himself with a sword during an argument at a unit block in Sydney's inner west has been charged after another man was assaulted. Police say officers were called to the Marrickville unit block at about 11pm yesterday on reports two men, aged 25 and 41, were fighting and other people had intervened to try to stop them. After the 25-year-old man left and returned with a sword, the older man sustained an injury to his forehead. He was taken to Royal Prince Hospital for treatment to non-life threatening injuries. The 25-year-old was arrested and charged with armed with intent to commit an indictable offence. (AAP)

8.17am TV NEWS: Did you watch the Biggest Loser last night? How's about them trying to slim down a whole town! Pretty ballsy. Here's what the mayor of Ararat had to say.

8.13am Have you made plans for Australia Day yet? We'll have a full list of stuff on around the region on Friday. Definitely check out the action at Belmore Basin for Wollongong residents & stuff happening at Black Beach in Kiama or Lake Illawarra. Fingers crossed for a nice day!

8.10am Wollongong's Cafe on Legs has some delicious specials today & tomorrow. Large chicken breast schnitzel for $10, rump steak for $12 - both served with hand cut chips, sauce or gravy of your choice, and a complimentary soft drink. $12.50 lunch and dinner specials coming soon.

8.07am I love this "family photo" of two Husky dogs with their bazillion Husky babies. Oh so freaking adorable. Sigh, I want a dog.

8.05am AROUND THE GLOBE: A seven-year-old boy has died at a New Zealand beach after a hole in the sand collapsed on him and suffocated him. The accident happened at Pataua South Beach, near Whangarei in Northland, yesterday. The boy had poked his head into a hole in the sand and the sand collapsed around him, pinning him in. He was pulled out of the hole but could not be revived. (AAP)

8.03am LOCAL NEWS: Dapto paramedic Tony McLeod retired last Friday after 40 years with the ambos. Thanks for all your efforts Tony!

8.01am NATIONAL: The national child sex abuse inquiry will sit this week to hear further evidence on two case studies - the YMCA NSW and the Catholic Church’s abuse complaints procedure. The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse ended 2013 with a report criticising YMCA NSW senior management over systemic failures, which led to pedophile Jonathan Lord working at child-care centres in south Sydney for two years. When the hearing resumes on Tuesday, the commission will hear from YMCA NSW, which has asked the commission to reject findings in the report presented by commission senior counsel Gail Furness.Then on Wednesday the commission will continue a hearing into Towards Healing, the Catholic Church process for abuse complainants.

7.59am SPORT: Tension between America's Serena Williams and Sloane Stephens is expected to intensify after footage emerged of what appeared to be Stephens celebrating Williams' shock exit from the Australian Open.

7.57am Looking for something to do with the kids these school holidays? Head over to Towradgi Beach Hotel for the Little Leonardo Art Classes. They will run weekdays until January 24. Spaces are limited so please call to ensure your child’s place. Payment is required at the time of booking. Daily classes are perfect for five to 12 year olds, and only $12 per child.

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

*Wollongong City Council has teamed up with the police to crack down on would-be illegal campers planning to pitch tents in North Wollongong’s Stuart Park this Australia Day.

*Two people have died in horror motorbike smashes over the weekend.

*Plastic bags could be a thing of the past for Illawarra grocery shoppers if moves to ban them in the region's Coles and Woolworths stores are successful. Wollongong City Council has written to the supermarket giants, asking them to consider ditching plastic bags in all their Illawarra stores.

*Organisers of the Australia Day Aquathon are considering moving the event's swimming leg 400 metres up the beach in response to a sewer leak in Wollongong Harbour

7.53am Good morning & happy Monday! Here's the latest weather, traffic and trains.

WEATHER Goodbye nice weather, it was really good to see you! Today we're going to have a few showers and we're headed for a top of just 22 degrees. Right now in Albion Park and Bellambi, it's 20 degrees (phew, thought it felt warm out there!) and pretty wet.

TRAFFIC Everything looks okay for the run around town. Don't forget those roadworks on Mt Ousley near Picton. The run to Sydney looks pretty hunkey dorey too.

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

7.50am MOVIES: So, Cate Blanchett is pretty much a shoo-in for the Oscar win. She picked up a SAG for her role in Blue Jasmine.

7.49am LOCAL NEWS: All things old were in vogue at the weekend as people wandered through the 23rd Annual Antiques and Collectables Charity Fair at Kiama. The fair, run by Kiama Rotary Club, offered a variety of special finds under the newly restored roof of Kiama Leisure Centre, with part of the funds raised going to typhoon Haiyan victims.

7.46am LOCAL SPORT: Steve Blissenden took a catch and bowled off the second last ball of the match as Helensburgh beat Port Kembla by a run in a one-day thriller at Helensburgh Oval.

7.44am NATIONAL: The NSW government will discuss ways to tackle alcohol-fuelled violence during its first full meeting of the year today, following weeks of pressure to act. Premier Barry O’Farrell on Thursday announced that cabinet would consider a suite of measures to reduce incidents like the one-hit attacks responsible for the tragic deaths of two Sydney teenagers, Thomas Kelly and Daniel Christie. The proposals to be considered by cabinet include better alcohol licensing regulation, boosted police resources and penalties targeting those who commit crimes while under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

7.42am SPOTTED: Hot Cross Buns in Woolworths. It's January. Woolworths response: "there is a high demand for hot cross buns". Emma's response: "no-one likes hot cross buns that much!".

7.40am So, it's still pretty hot outside (humid, if you will). Why not head into the kitchen and whip up some icy desserts to cool you down? Then, bring them into the Mercury office and no-one gets hurt. Hehe (that was my evil laugh!) Here's some inspiration.

7.38am Looking for something to do these school holidays? Why not try out the Kidzcare vacation care program at the Lake Illawarra PCYC? It’s on until January 24. Call 4296 4448 for more information. Daily rate is $35 plus excursion costs.

7.36am CELEB GOSS ALERT: If you missed this one on Friday, I'm sorry, it's true, Johnny Depp is officially off the market.

7.34am AROUND THE GLOBE: 300 people have been injured after a large fire broke out at an historic village in western Norway (Channel Nine).

7.32am BREAKING: The bodies of man and a woman have been found inside a Melbourne house, with police treating their deaths as suspicious. Police were called to the Heidelberg West property for a welfare check, after concerned relatives raised the alarm, just after 7pm yesterday. They discovered the bodies of a 50-year-old woman and 47-year-old man inside the house. Homicide squad investigators are awaiting the results of a post-mortem examination to determine their cause of death. (AAP)

7.30am LOCAL NEWS: A mad scramble in the North Wollongong rock pool has won Tony Dulevski a lifetime of good luck - so the legend goes. Hundreds of members of the Illawarra's Macedonian Orthodox community gathered on Sunday for their Vodici celebration, held each year on January 19. Check out our gallery of images here.

7.28am SPORT: Football Federation Australia said it would wait for the findings of a police investigation before deciding whether to take any action against Western Sydney Wanderers after a violent incident on Saturday evening allegedly involving supporters of the club. (SMH)

7.26am TRAFFIC ALERT - Gwynneville: M1 approaching Mt Ousley Rd - breakdown impacting northbound traffic. Exercise caution.

7.24am Can't. Even. Function. Cuteness overload. So many baby pandas.

7.22am Don't forget we're crossing every hour to Pulse 94.1FM with all the latest news on the Rush.

7.20am This story has seriously made my life - actor Sandor Sturbl, who plays Peter Pan in a musical version of the classic tale, proposed on stage to his girlfriend, actress Jane Mary Sullivan. Sullivan, who goes by Lilly-Jane Young professionally, stars alongside Sturbl as Wendy. Love it! Check out the video of the super cute engagement here.

7.16am Nearly 30 per cent of Aussie adults are obese, squeezing us out of the top 10 countries with the healthiest diet. The Netherlands, with its relatively affordable food prices and low rates of diabetes, was named No. 1 by an Oxfam report looking at 125 countries. Although Australia rated poorly in weight stakes and 9 per cent of the population suffers from diabetes, our access to clean water, good food and low levels of malnourishment meant we made the top 12.

7.14am MOVIES: Angelina Jolie is seriously rocking it as the evil Maleficent. Check out the trailer - can't wait to see this one!

7.13am TIARA ALERT: Prince Charles has taken a major step towards the throne, with the Queen and the Prince of Wales officially job-sharing the monarchy. (NB job sharing with your mother?!) (Nine News)

7.12am LOCAL NEWS: Medieval sports, daredevil utes and the chance to spot the perfect scone - there was something for everyone at the 157th Dapto Show at the weekend. Check out our gallery of pics here.

7.10am NATIONAL NEWS: Nauru's justice system is in disarray and cases against scores of asylum seekers are in limbo after the Nauru government sacked its only magistrate and denied its Australian Chief Justice a visa to re-enter the country

7.08am Legally Blonde is COMING! Moonglow Productions is set to stage the musical for the first time in Wollongong on July 4-5 @ the WIN Entertainment Centre. Auditions are March 1 & 2. Head over to the website to book a spot!

7.06am TV NEWS: Have you heard about the Real Housewives of Melbourne? I seriously cannot wait to see this (oh, bad reality TV, my secret shame!)

7.04am Are your kids Harry Potter fans? Do you just like the books & need a small child to validate your cause? Well, head over to Dapto Library from 2pm to 4pm today for the Harry Potter Adventure. Join the library staff for craft, games & trivia, based on the first Harry Potter book. Suitable for ages 7+. Bookings essential. 

7.02am WORLD: A gay Russian protester was detained on Saturday for unfurling a rainbow flag during the Olympic torch relay as it passed through his hometown of Voronezh, 910 kilometers north of Sochi, where the games will begin February 7. (SMH) (NB as a side note - with threats of terrorism & now this, I doubt anyone will actually go over for the games!!!)

7am NATIONAL NEWS: Sydney was struck by violent brawls over the weekend as calls intensify to address alcohol-related violence in the inner city. Police said they broke up two brawls on Saturday night - one at World Square and one on George Street, near Angel Place, in front of the Ivy nightclub.

6.58am LOCAL SPORT: Wollongong coach Gordie McLeod was convinced the Hawks didn't "throw it away" in yet another narrow loss yesterday at WIN Entertainment Centre. The Hawks' roller-coaster season dipped again with the 79-77 defeat against Cairns, leaving them sixth heading into this week's double against New Zealand (Thursday, away) and Melbourne (Sunday, home).

6.56am TRAFFIC ALERT: Wollongong's Keira Street is set to close tonight to allow for further work on the GPT West Keira development. The work was ear-marked for last week but was moved to tonight, between 9pm and 5am, due to changes in the construction schedule. Read more here.

6.54am CELEB GOSS ALERT: If you missed this one on Friday, Gwen Stefani has released the sex of her baby - and she's having another boy!

6.52am Here's what's making news in your Mercury today:

*Wollongong City Council has teamed up with the police to crack down on would-be illegal campers planning to pitch tents in North Wollongong’s Stuart Park this Australia Day.

*Two people have died in horror motorbike smashes over the weekend.

*Plastic bags could be a thing of the past for Illawarra grocery shoppers if moves to ban them in the region's Coles and Woolworths stores are successful. Wollongong City Council has written to the supermarket giants, asking them to consider ditching plastic bags in all their Illawarra stores.

*Organisers of the Australia Day Aquathon are considering moving the event's swimming leg 400 metres up the beach in response to a sewer leak in Wollongong Harbour

6.50am Good morning & happy Monday! Here's the latest weather, traffic and trains.

WEATHER Goodbye nice weather, it was really good to see you! Today we're going to have a few showers and we're headed for a top of just 22 degrees. Right now in Albion Park and Bellambi, it's 20 degrees (phew, thought it felt warm out there!)

TRAFFIC Everything looks okay for the run around town. Don't forget those roadworks on Mt Ousley near Picton. The run to Sydney looks pretty hunkey dorey too.

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

6.48am Do you have a mini Masterchef in your family? Why not keep them entertained with some cooking classes at TBH? They are on from today until January 24. Spaces are limited so please call to ensure your child’s place. Payment is required at the time of booking. Daily classes are perfect for five to 12 year olds, and are only $12 per child.

6.46am WORLD NEWS: Police say closed circuit television has captured the moment an attacker threw a grenade into a crowd of anti-government protesters in central Bangkok, injuring 28 people, seven of them seriously.

6.44am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Dennis Rodman has checked into rehab for alcoholism after a bizzare trip to North Korea. Shock horror.

6.42am MOVIE NEWS: Australian actress Margot Robbie will follow up her performance in the Martin Scorsese film The Wolf of Wall Street with a starring role in the highly anticipated film Z For Zachariah. You go girl!

6.40am LOCAL NEWS: Illawarra car lovers were spoilt for choice over the weekend, with three events across the region celebrating all things motoring.

6.39am A generational shift is taking place in attitudes to marriage, with younger couples appearing more committed to the institution than their older peers. Read more here.

6.36am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Kourtney Kardashian gave her house a make-over - and it looks awesome (if not slightly dysfunctional).

6.34am NSW firefighters worked through the night to battle blazes and build containment lines, with high temperatures and fire danger predicted for the start of the week. Temperatures in the mid to high 30s and another tough day for firefighters are predicted for today. Water-bombing aircraft, heavy machines and firefighters worked throughout Sunday night on control lines at the Minjary fire, burning between Canberra and Wagga Wagga, the Redbank fire, near Bathurst, and the Minimbah fire, near Wagga Wagga. Three homes were destroyed by the Minimbah fire. Emergency warnings were in place for out-of-control grassfires at Singleton and the Hells Hole fire near Bathurst. (AAP)

6.32am LOCAL NEWS: It boasts more than 400 performances from 150 national and international acts, but members of the Illawarra Folk Festival community say the weekend is about more - much more - than just the music. Congrats to all involved - looks like it went off without a hitch!

6.30am  Kids can play with Lego today at Corrimal Library at 10.30am & 2pm. Bookings essential.

6.28am BREAKING: Doctors have called for reversing cameras to be fitted to all new cars and for driveways to be fenced off after the latest death of a toddler who was killed by a reversing sports utility vehicle.

6.26am SPORT - Australian Open: Australian Casey Dellacqua’s hot Australian Open run has ended in the fourth round at the hands of fast-rising Canadian teenager Eugenie Bouchard.

6.24am Looking to update your look for 2014? This year is set to be all about liquid eyeliner, red lips and matte base. For hair trends, it’s looking like angular bobs, monotone colour and sleek and glossy is set to be all the rage.

6.22am NATIONAL NEWS: Many people are expected to attend today's funeral for Noelene & Yvana Bischoff, who died while holidaying in Bali. (Channel Nine)

6.20am BREAKING WORLD NEWS: Two men, believed to be terrorists, have posted a video promising 'a surprise' for athletes and tourists at the Sochi Winter Olympics. (Channel Nine)

6.18am CELEB GOSS ALERT: If you missed this late last week, Kim Kardashian has posted some photos of baby North - and she's pretty flipping cute. 

6.16am We've got the latest in our saltwater sanctuaries series - this time, reporter Glen Humphries looks at Woonona ocean pool. Check it out here.

6.14am SPORT - cricket: A deflated Alastair Cook has admitted for the first time he is considering his future as England captain. Another demoralising defeat at the SCG last night not only secured Australia an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match one-day series but left Cook indicating he was weighing whether to quit the leadership post after a horror summer

6.12am Looking for something to do today? The Lagoon is hosting high tea, without the fine bone china, for parents, carers and their little ones. Bookings are essential.

6.10am So, Australia had a heatwave last week. To give you an idea of just how hot it was, check out this video of a chocolate ball melting on an Adelaide street - it took just three minutes for it to become completely liquid.

6.08am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Yesterday Hollywood celebrated the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) awards - and we've got the best & worst dressed for you! (Thank me later!)

6.06am Let's have a look at the national headlines, thanks to the SMH:

*The state’s largest and most violent venues face paying tens of thousands of dollars a year to keep their liquor licences, under a proposal being taken to cabinet on Monday.

*Parents with children in NSW selective schools pay voluntary fees on average five times the amount of those with children in comprehensive public schools an analysis by Fairfax Media reveals.

*Two asylum seekers jumped off their boat as the Australian Navy was taking them back to Indonesia around Christmas Day, in what a fellow passenger said was a suicide attempt.

*Bill Shorten has branded Tony Abbott a potential ‘‘oncer’’ prime minister, insisting Labor can win government back at the next election if it stays united.

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

*Wollongong City Council has teamed up with the police to crack down on would-be illegal campers planning to pitch tents in North Wollongong’s Stuart Park this Australia Day.

*Two people have died in horror motorbike smashes over the weekend.

*Plastic bags could be a thing of the past for Illawarra grocery shoppers if moves to ban them in the region's Coles and Woolworths stores are successful. Wollongong City Council has written to the supermarket giants, asking them to consider ditching plastic bags in all their Illawarra stores.

*Organisers of the Australia Day Aquathon are considering moving the event's swimming leg 400 metres up the beach in response to a sewer leak in Wollongong Harbour

6.02am If you're just waking up (go back to sleep you silly thing!), here's the latest weather, traffic and trains.

WEATHER Goodbye nice weather, it was really good to see you! Today we're going to have a few showers and we're headed for a top of just 22 degrees. Right now in Albion Park and Bellambi, it's 20 degrees (phew, thought it felt warm out there!)

TRAFFIC Everything looks okay for the run around town. Don't forget those roadworks on Mt Ousley near Picton. There is a police operation at Blakehurst (Princes Hwy on Tom Uglys Bridge) causing a few headaches, slow down around there. Otherwise the run to Sydney is okay.

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

6am Good morning Illawarra, it's Monday! Hope you all had a nice weekend - gorgeous weather for it! Stay with us this morning for all the information you need to know, right this minute!

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