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

8.40am That's it from us this morning! Tune in tomorrow for the TGIF edition of the Rush.

8.37am TRAFFIC ALERT - BULLI TOPS: M1 near Bulli Pass - one of two southbound lanes blocked due to truck breakdown. Exercise caution.

8.34am Don't forget Australia Day activities are on in Wollongong & Shellharbour this weekend. The Merc is sponsoring these great events & we'll be handing out freebies so do stop by and say hello!

8.31am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Check out what the stars are wearing out & about this week. We've got a lovely gallery of pics for your perusal.

8.28am Keen to better your gardening skills? Then book into one of Wild Rumpus' classes. Quick, they're filling up fast.

8.25am SPORT: The man investigated for illegal betting at a Big Bash League game in Melbourne last weekend reappeared at the one-day international at the SCG the following day and was warned about his conduct.

8.21am 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 until tomorrow. 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.

8.18am BREAKING: A young man is in hospital after the car he was driving smashed into the bedroom of a house in Sydney’s west. Police say the car was travelling along Duardo Street at Edensor Park when the crash happened about 12.15am. The car driven by the 21-year-old P-Plater veered off the road and hit a power pole before smashing into the front corner of the house, finally stopping in the ‘‘master bedroom’’. The power pole was dragged into the front yard of the house. The four people inside the home at the time weren’t injured. The driver suffered a head injury and was taken to Liverpool Hospital. (AAP)

8.15am I can totally relate to the below post - ridic short denim cut-offs, bugger off. No-one likes you!

8.12am To prick a sausage or to not prick a sausage, that is the question! Don't stuff up your sangas this Australia Day. Find out the right way to cook them here.

8.09am Don't forget Kiama Show is on tomorrow & Saturday. If you love corn on the cob and beaut utes, you know where to go.

8.06am BREAKING: The Australian Medical Association is set to call for national action to tackle alcohol misuse and related harms. Australian Medical Association (AMA) president Dr Steve Hambleton said a review of the harms of alcohol misuse was needed.He said an inquiry should look at alcohol marketing and its exposure to young people, as well as its impacts on the health system. (AAP)

8.03am LOCAL NEWS: A new soccer program will give children with disabilities the opportunity to learn and develop social and sporting skills. The Terriers Football Club is an hour-long weekly program run by Early Childhood Play Centres (ECPC) in Albion Park Rail. Read more about it here.

8am Everyone loves a good baby shower - but not if it comes with these cakes. Some of these are seriously weird. NB not for the faint-hearted - or children!

7.55am Let's have a looksie at what's making news in your Mercury today:

*Almost a week after a Dapto mother was denied the right to swim in Port Kembla Olympic Pool because of her attire, another woman has come forward claiming she was barred from breastfeeding her infant daughter at the pool.

*The northern end of Wollongong Harbour has been reopened to swimmers after the results of water testing conducted last Saturday. The southern end of the harbour remains closed, with high levels of ammonia, faecal coliforms and enterococci recorded in water close to the sewage leak discovered almost two weeks ago.

*Police will be out in force in Wollongong this Australia Day, cracking down on alcohol-fuelled violence and illegal camping.

*The University of Wollongong has developed its third, free MOOC - Massive Open Online Course - aimed at people who need a maths refresher.

7.53am Top of the morning to you! Welcome to Thursday. Here's your weather, traffic & trains.

WEATHER We're in for another dreary day. We're headed for possible showers this morning but it's likely to be partly cloudy for most of the day. Predicted top is 22. Right now, it's 18 in Albion Park and 21 in Bellambi.

TRAFFIC Everything looks a-okay on the region's roads. Don't forget those evening roadworks at Mt Ousley. There is a clear run for the drive to Sydney too.

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

7.51am Kids can play with Lego today at Warrawong Library at 10.30am. Bookings essential.

7.49am BREAKING: Abbott says there is ‘‘absolutely no evidence’’ to back up claims Australian sailors mistreated asylum seekers during a boat tow-back operation. Bishop says Australia will send reps to Indonesia if needed. (AAP)

7.47am STRANGE BUT TRUE: The portraits of former prime ministers at Parliament House are proving to be a magnet for visitors wanting a selfie with a famous Australian. But since protective barriers were removed, people have been placing their hands on the paintings. Some staff at Parliament House are concerned about the practice of visitors touching the paintings, since the public area was given the look of a modern gallery, with no barriers in front of the art works. (SMH)

7.45am This one made me laugh this morning - the blueberry muffin that looks exactly like a chihuaha. Seriously, how do people come up with these things?!

7.43am TV NEWS: Sports satirists H.G. Nelson and "Rampaging" Roy Slaven are exporting their wry commentary to Russia. The Ten Network has signed a deal with the pair to provide commentary for the network's coverage of the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. Ha, should be hilarious!

7.41am Romeo, Romeo, where for art thou Romeo (or something!) Think you've got what it takes to perform in one of Shakespeare's most famous plays? Auditions are on tonight for Roo Theatre’s Romeo & Juliet. Good luck to all involved!

7.39am LOCAL SPORT: St George Illawarra will rest World Cup stars Brett Morris and Jason Nightingale in their first hitout of the 2014 season. The Red V will take on a combined Illawarra Cutters, their NSW Cup feeder side, and bush footy outfit Mudgee Dragons at Kogarah on February 7 in a low-key start to the season.

7.36am The Wolf of Wall Street hits Aussie cinemas today, yippee! Can't wait to see it.

7.34am Do you have a mini Masterchef in your family? Why not keep them entertained with some cooking classes at TBH? They are on until tomorrow. 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.

7.32am BREAKING: Police are appealing for public assistance following an armed robbery at Albion Park Rail yesterday. About 3.45pm, a 55-year-old man parked his car in a car park on Creamery Road. As he was leaving the car park, he was approached by a man, armed with a knife. The man threatened the 55-year-old and demanded cash before he fled the scene. The man has been described as being 183cm tall with a thin build. He was wearing a blue hooded jacket, black jeans, black gloves and blue sneakers. Police are urging anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

7.29am TV NEWS: Australian actor Ben Mendelsohn has nabbed a leading role in an upcoming Netflix drama from the creators of acclaimed series Damages. Nice! Another win for the Aussies!

7.27am Oh my god, oh my god you guys! Legally Blonde: the Musical 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!

7.25am If I see another inappropriate Australia Day t-shirt, I'm going to scream. The latest one comes courtesy of ICE. Check it out here. Seriously!? Don't these stores think before they print?!

7.23am MOVIE GOSS: Don't mess with Quentin Tarantino. After word got out that the script for his upcoming film had been leaked, he decided to pull it completely. Yikes.

7.21am LOCAL SPORT: Wollongong Yacht Club will celebrate another Australia Day on the water with their annual regatta this weekend. Concerns over the water pollution in the harbour from a sewage leak aren't likely to worry competitors, as they glide around the open ocean over three days.

7.19am LOCAL NEWS: A decision on the future of Port Kembla RSL Club won’t be known until late next month. The RSL NSW state executive met yesterday afternoon to discuss what would happen to the club, which has been closed since May last year. RSL NSW president Don Rowe said any decision reached yesterday would not be made public until late February.

7.17am BREAKING: Olympic officials are trying to play down terror threats received by athletes ahead of the Sochi Winter Games. (Nine News)

7.16am 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 tomorrow. Call 4296 4448 for more information. Daily rate is $35 plus excursion costs.

7.14am SPORT - Australian Open: Roger Federer admitted he was unsure if he'd won a key point after a double-bounce in his stirring Australian Open quarter-final victory over Andy Murray. Read more about that play here.

7.12am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Everyone's favourite vampire is making some "profound changes" in his life. That's right, R-Patz has made some deep changes ... drum roll please ...  he's started moisturising. Yep, I kid you not.

7.10am Don't forget we're crossing hourly to Pulse 94.1FM with all the latest news from the Rush. Don't miss it!

7.08am WORLD NEWS: Ukrainian police stormed protesters' barricades in Kiev amid violent clashes that left five activists dead, the first fatalities in two months of anti-government protests. (SMH)

7.06am LOCAL SPORT: Wollongong are banking on their "equal opportunity" offence to keep the scoreboard ticking over in tonight's road meeting with reigning champions New Zealand Breakers. C'mon Hawks!

7.04am BREAKING: The body of a woman has been found in a car park in Sydney's south. Police said they were called to Smith Street, Taren Point, at 2.20pm yesterday after the body was found. It is understood the body was discovered in a pool of blood. Police believe the woman’s death is related to a ‘‘domestic incident’’. Inquiries are continuing. (SMH)

7.02am Don't forget Roo Theatre's production of Joseph & the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat closes this weekend. There are limited tickets left, head over to the company's website to book.

7am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Selena Gomez has opened up about her "bad" break-up with Justin Bieber. Ouch.

6.58am Let's have a looksie at what's making news in your Mercury today:

*Almost a week after a Dapto mother was denied the right to swim in Port Kembla Olympic Pool because of her attire, another woman has come forward claiming she was barred from breastfeeding her infant daughter at the pool.

*The northern end of Wollongong Harbour has been reopened to swimmers after the results of water testing conducted last Saturday. The southern end of the harbour remains closed, with high levels of ammonia, faecal coliforms and enterococci recorded in water close to the sewage leak discovered almost two weeks ago.

*Police will be out in force in Wollongong this Australia Day, cracking down on alcohol-fuelled violence and illegal camping.

*The University of Wollongong has developed its third, free MOOC - Massive Open Online Course - aimed at people who need a maths refresher.

6.56am Good morning! Welcome to Thursday. Here's your weather, traffic & trains.

WEATHER We're in for another dreary day. We're headed for possible showers this morning but it's likely to be partly cloudy for most of the day. Predicted top is 22. Right now, it's 17 in Albion Park and 20 in Bellambi.

TRAFFIC Everything looks a-okay on the region's roads. Don't forget those evening roadworks at Mt Ousley. There is a clear run for the drive to Sydney too.

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

6.54am Kids can play with Lego today at Dapto Library at 10.30am. Bookings essential.

6.46am TV NEWS: Were you a fan of Ten's drama show WonderlandWell, good news for you, it's coming back. The series has defied the odds and won itself a renewal. Channel Ten has commissioned a second season. (SMH)

6.44am LOCAL NEWS: New federal funding will allow CatholicCare Wollongong to expand its aged and disabilities services in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven. The social services agency will use the money to hire additional staff and offer more flexible services catered to individual needs.

6.42am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Is Jennifer Lawrence engaged? WHAT!? Everything's coming up J-Law if this is true!

6.40am SPORT - Australian Open - could Canadian teen Eugenie Bouchard be the new face of tennis? Her agent certainly thinks so. He believes Bouchard could surpass Maria Sharapova as arguably the most marketable female athlete on the planet. The 19-year-old Canadian has turned heads during her Australian Open campaign, winning the hearts of the public and respect from the tennis fraternity in an inspiring run to the grand slam's semi-finals. (SMH)

6.37am BREAKING: The Federal Government will give newlywed couples $200 to attend marriage counselling. Taxpayers set to fund the $20 million trial. (Nine News)

6.36am Love a good movie night? Then grab your popcorn and your chair & head to the Botanic Gardens sunset cinema tonight to see We’re the Millers. NB very funny film - not for the kids! Watch for weather info throughout the day re cancellations.

6.34am NATIONAL: People are being put at risk because there is no way of telling from internet searches if their doctor has broken the rules or is working under sanctions from medical regulators, experts warn. More than 680,000 health practitioners have their registration status published by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), including information about whether special conditions have been placed on their practice because of past bad behaviour. But lawyers and patient advocates say patients are being left in the dark because the results do not show up in search results. (SMH)

6.32am CELEB GOSS ALERT: We've got pictures of Victoria Beckham in joggers. Sweating. I know, I'm scared too.

6.30am Keen to head out for some live music this weekend? Well, don't go anywhere without reading our gig guide first. We've got all the acts on around the traps this Aus Day long weekend.

6.28am Head over to the Wollongong Art Gallery today for the ‘‘Creative Cubists’’ workshop. Learn about Cubism and the wonders of Picasso by creating a still life artwork through painting and collage. First session suitable for ages 5-8, second session suitable for ages 9-14. It's on from 10am – 12 noon & 1:30pm – 3:30pm.

6.26am TV NEWS: Australia's commercial TV channels are locked in a fierce battle for the first post-jail interview with Schapelle Corby – but her family's displeasure with past news coverage and a forthcoming telemovie threatens to de-rail each network's bid. A source says "everyone will open their chequebooks" for what will "obviously be the interview of the decade". (SMH)

6.24am Okay, so I am a total sucker for dip. I love it - all kinds, they are just so damn delicious. So you can imagine how excited I was when I saw this recipe for beetroot, walnut and feta dip. OMG, thanks Kate!

6.22am WORLD NEWS: When Nelson Mandela's sculpture was unveiled at the seat of government in Pretoria after his burial last month, no one noticed one small detail: a bronze rabbit nestled in his right ear. The Department of Arts and Culture has ordered the removal of the rabbit in order to restore the dignity of the 30-foot bronze-plated sculpture of South Africa's first black president. Read more here.

6.18am NATIONAL: At least one person has been taken to hospital and eight others have been treated by paramedics after a chemical spill at the Australian Post International mail centre in Sydney. More than a litre of a corrosive solvent leaked from a package in the customs mailing room at 5.40pm, prompting the evacuation of 150 people at the the sorting centre in Granville. (SMH)

6.16am LOCAL NEWS: More than 100 people turned out for the latest day of filming on the Pig Iron Bob documentary. Check out our pics here. Looks like it's going to be great!

6.14am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Cate Blanchett and her husband, Sydney Theatre Company artistic director Andrew Upton, have spent nearly $2 million on a waterfront apartment in Elizabeth Bay.

6.12am SPORT - Australian Open: Agnieszka Radwanska ensured this year’s Open will crown a first-time female winner by snapping a seven-match losing streak against Victoria Azarenka.

6.10am  Wollongong Council’s summer reading club presents a magic show today! Abracadabra! It’s on at Dapto Library at 10am and Corrimal Library at 2.45pm. Bookings essential.

6.08am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Lara Bingle is enjoying a loved up holiday in the Maldives with boyfriend Sam Worthington. Sigh, jealous.

6.06am Here's the national headlines, courtesy of the SMH:

*Doctors will demand the Abbott government show leadership on the ‘‘epidemic’’ of alcohol abuse by calling a summit to change the nation’s booze-soaked culture.

*Terrorist groups are profiting as part of a money-laundering operation involving hundreds of millions of dollars Australians are spending on illegal drugs.

*Under the O’Farrell government’s proposed new ‘‘one punch’’ laws, the alcohol-affected teenager would receive a mandatory minimum sentence of eight years if convicted in court of landing the fatal blow.

*Premier Barry O’Farrell has warned nightspots across NSW will be forced to lock out patrons and introduce alcohol curfews if they fail to curb violent assaults.

6.04am Let's have a looksie at what's making news in your Mercury today:

*Almost a week after a Dapto mother was denied the right to swim in Port Kembla Olympic Pool because of her attire, another woman has come forward claiming she was barred from breastfeeding her infant daughter at the pool.

*The northern end of Wollongong Harbour has been reopened to swimmers after the results of water testing conducted last Saturday. The southern end of the harbour remains closed, with high levels of ammonia, faecal coliforms and enterococci recorded in water close to the sewage leak discovered almost two weeks ago.

*Police will be out in force in Wollongong this Australia Day, cracking down on alcohol-fuelled violence and illegal camping.

*The University of Wollongong has developed its third, free MOOC - Massive Open Online Course - aimed at people who need a maths refresher.

6.02am If you're just waking up ... roll over and go back to sleep, it's far too early to be awake! Alternatively, check out the latest weather, trains and traffic.

WEATHER We're in for another dreary day. We're headed for possible showers this morning but it's likely to be partly cloudy for most of the day. Predicted top is 22. Right now, it's 17 in Albion Park and 20 in Bellambi.

TRAFFIC Everything looks a-okay on the region's roads. Don't forget those evening roadworks at Mt Ousley. There is a clear run for the drive to Sydney too.

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

6am Good morning and happy (wet) Thursday! We're in for a very overcast, dreary day. Not to worry - only one day until the looong weekend!

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