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

8.43am That's it from us this morning! See you tomorrow for Thursday's edition of the Rush. Like what you're reading? Let us know - morningrush@illawarramercury.com.au

8.40am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Wolf of Wall Street star Margot Robbie has dyed her hair brown. What do you think?

8.37am So apparently people have been trying to eat a banana through a stocking over the head. I don't even know anymore, I mean really!? Watch it here.

8.34am STRANGE BUT TRUE: It's a given that bringing a loaded firearm onto a US plane is illegal. But that did not stop 1477 people from trying to do just that last year, officials said Friday. Passengers also sought to sneak grenades, inert explosives, tear gas, cane-swords and even a medieval mace onto flights, all part of the varied weaponry detected at airport checkpoints by the Transportation Security Administration in 2013. Read more here.

8.31am LOCAL NEWS: The summer holidays are over for another year, with most students boarding the bus to head back to school today. For new Mount Keira Demonstration School principal Michelle Barnes, it is an exciting time. Formerly the assistant principal at Woonona Public, Mrs Barnes is looking forward to working with the school community and getting to know its 91 students.

8.28am WORLD NEWS: India's supreme court has refused to review the ban on gay sex it imposed last month, rejecting arguments from civil rights campaigners and the Indian government that the move was unconstitutional. (The Guardian)

8.25am Okay so I'm planning a wedding. And I'm starting to realise how much there is involved. Apparently, a lot of brides are picking up the glue gun and DIYing everything. Thoughts? I don't have the time or the inclination - or the creative skills!

8.22am The pastry chefs have been baking over at Three Chimneys - and it looks SO GOOD. Lemon curd tarts and strawberry macaroons. Drool.

8.15am BREAKING: A 16-year-old boy will face a Queensland court today, charged with stabbing what are believed to be his mother and sister to death. The 12-year-old girl had been due to start Year 7 this week and counsellors are being sent to her school at Toowoomba, west of Brisbane. The boy has been charged with two counts of murder and is due to face a Toowoomba court this morning. (AAP)

8.12am Let's be honest, who doesn't love a good potato. And who doesn't love baking, deep-frying and munching on those suckers. Yum. Here's some recipes for potato inspiration.

8.09am LOCAL SPORT: Hawks guard Tyson Demos will ramp up his training schedule this week to help lighten the load on Wollongong's back court for Friday's clash with Townsville.

8.05am LOCAL NEWS:Mitchell Robinson is giving people a bird's-eye view of the Illawarra. Or maybe that should be a drone's-eye view. Since late last year, Mr Robinson, a first-time photographer, has been using a drone he bought on eBay, with a camera attached, to take aerial images of the Illawarra.

8.02am NATIONAL NEWS: Most Australians don't fear shark attacks, feel safe in the sea and don't support killing sharks to make beaches safer. According to a new poll by UMR research, 83 per cent of Australians haven't changed how often they swim, surf or take part in other recreational activities in the ocean because of the risk of shark attack. Only 15 per cent favour hunting down and killing sharks to make beaches safer.

7.59am It's that time of the year when people start to make "no alcohol" pledges. But can taking a month off the booze really make a difference? Read here to find out.

7.57am BREAKING WORLD NEWS: Shots fired at US school - the ninth incident in 2014.

7.55am SPORT: Erratic scheduling is making Australia's preparations for the ICC World Twenty20 tournament tougher, skipper George Bailey has conceded. Australia will squeeze three T20 matches in against England as many players head to South Africa for next month's Test series. Three T20s will follow the Test series against the Proteas before Australia head to Bangladesh for the world championship. Bailey said the lack of continuity was the biggest challenge for all countries.

7.53am Here's what's making news in your Mercury today:

*Fairy Meadow serial hoaxer who summoned police and ambulance services to her home at least 10 times in five days has been sentenced to nine months in jail.

*A government-led transformation of early-education care is behind a sharp increase in childcare fees for Illawarra families in recent years.

*A Wollongong store owner has hit out at expensive tip fees, blaming rising rubbish dumping costs for the pile of junk that has appeared outside his store.

*Illawarra water catchment areas will not be protected from "fracking" under the state government's finalised coal seam gas reforms, CSG opponents have warned.

7.51am Good morning! Let's have a look at the latest weather, traffic & trains.

WEATHER It's going to be sunny with a top of 27 degrees, yay! Perfect beach weather. There will be some light winds around and the fire danger is very high so be careful. Right now it's 18 degrees in Albion Park and 20 in Bellambi.

TRAFFIC Everything looks sweet as a nut for the drive around the region. There is a two-car accident @ Brighton Le Sands. Traffic is heavy through there so slow down.

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

7.48am TV NEWS: How I Met Your Mother is coming to an end. And it seems the actors are having a hard time coping with it too! Alyson Hannigan got very choked up while talking about saying goodbye to her co-star & TV husband Jason Segal. Awww.

7.47am Were you snapped out and about over Australia Day? Don't forget to check out our galleries of pics online - you can order photos on 4221 2340.

7.44am MUSIC NEWS: US folk musician Pete Seeger has died aged 94. Check out this gallery of his life and greatest performances.

7.42am NATIONAL NEWS: North Queensland communities remain on cyclone watch, with a tropical low gathering strength as it heads towards the coast. It’s still not clear if the system will develop into a cyclone, but regardless it will bring wild weather to the region. A cyclone watch remains in place for communities between Port Douglas, north of Cairns, and Proserpine, north of Mackay, and wind gusts of up to 96km/h have already been recorded offshore from Cairns. (AAP)

7.40am Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr I'm MELTING. Piglets. PIGLETS!

7.38am Shellharbour's senior residents are the focus of a photo competition to promote images of positive ageing to the community. Each submission needs to include a description of up to 50 words detailing how each image depicts a positive image of ageing. Entries close 5pm, Friday 14 February and selected photographs will be exhibited at Shellharbour Village Exhibition Space from 17-21 March. Winners will be announced at the launch of the exhibition. To enter, visit Shellharbour Council’s website.

7.35am STRANGE BUT TRUE: A wildlife park visitor has been accused of assaulting another man and threatening him with a knife after complaining that it was his turn to pat the koalas. Police yesterday said a 34-year-old Para Hills man had been charged with aggravated assault and two counts of assault at the Adelaide Hills park on Saturday. The visitors were waiting to pat the koalas when the 34-year-old man allegedly became aggressive and assaulted the victim. (The Guardian)

7.33am Great local story here from reporter Ang Thompson on the Illawarra Quidditch community. Yep, that's right, Quidditch.

7.31am Don't forget the Berry Show is on this weekend. Head to Berry showground for beat utes, giant pumpkins and all the excitement of the showgirl competition.

7.29am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Uh-oh! Scarlett Johanssen's racy commercial has been banned from the Super Bowl.

7.26am TIARA ALERT:  The Queen's royal household has been told by a Commons committee to reduce its costs and increase income after its cash reserves were found to be at a historic low of £1m. A report by the public accounts committee recommended better planning and budget management to rebuild a sufficient level of contingency in its reserve fund to cover unforeseen demands on the Queen's programme. (The Guardian)

7.23am MUSIC NEWS: Justin Bieber is set to spend his Valentine's Day with a South Florida judge. He will front a Miami-Dade County judge on Feb. 14 over charges of DUI, resisting arrest and driving with an expired license. Awww, how romantic. (The Huffington Post)

7.17am BREAKING:A motorist has been shot in the shoulder while driving past a home in Sydney's west where a memorial gathering was taking place for a teenager who was gunned down outside an apartment block in the same area on the weekend.

7.15am LOCAL NEWS: A Wollongong researcher is keen to see the region become the national "case study" for a new infrastructure plan, focused on making long-term private sector investment in assets. Chief executive of the University of Wollongong's SMART Infrastructure Facility, Garry Bowditch, is part of the team behind the green paper, "Infrastructure Imperatives for Australia", released yesterday. Read more about it here.

7.13am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Madonna is rumoured to be joining Miley Cyrus for a set on MTV. Now that would be epic.

7.11am Don't forget the Botanic Gardens Sunset Cinema is on again this weekend. There are some great films on offer and it's supposed to be beautiful weather.

7.08am SPORT: Cash-strapped Cronulla will risk being a further $400,000 out of pocket by contesting the provisional sanctions the NRL imposed upon them over the supplements scandal. Read more here.

7.06am BREAKING NATIONAL NEWS: Police are treating two bodies found in Pottsville yesterday as a murder investigation. Officers were searching for Greg Hutchings and his daughter. (Nine News)

7.04am STRANGE BUT TRUE: Dairy cows with a serious case of flatulence have simultaneously "broken wind" and blown up a building in a fiery explosion. I kid you not.

7.02am BREAKING: Police in the Northern Territory have said that human remains have been found near where a boy was taken by a crocodile while swimming with friends on the weekend.(Mamamia)

7am LOCAL NEWS: Shellharbour councillors Peter Moran and Kellie Marsh are taking their battle against the $55 million City Hub project to the public, calling on ratepayers to put forward their views on the issue.

6.59am This is an absolutely HILARIOUS story about Aussies celebrating Australia Day while holidaying overseas. And apparently the locals don't love it.

6.56am LOCAL SPORT: A three-game losing streak has Hawks captain Oscar Forman demanding a better defensive effort when his side takes on hosts Townsville this Friday.

6.54am Here's what's making news in your Mercury today:

*Fairy Meadow serial hoaxer who summoned police and ambulance services to her home at least 10 times in five days has been sentenced to nine months in jail.

*A government-led transformation of early-education care is behind a sharp increase in childcare fees for Illawarra families in recent years.

*A Wollongong store owner has hit out at expensive tip fees, blaming rising rubbish dumping costs for the pile of junk that has appeared outside his store.

*Illawarra water catchment areas will not be protected from "fracking" under the state government's finalised coal seam gas reforms, CSG opponents have warned.

6.53am Good morning! Let's have a look at the latest weather, traffic & trains.

WEATHER It's going to be sunny with a top of 27 degrees, yay! Perfect beach weather. There will be some light winds around and the fire danger is very high so be careful. Right now it's 15 degrees in Albion Park and 20 in Bellambi.

TRAFFIC Everything looks sweet as a nut for the drive around the region & to Sydney.

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

6.52am TV NEWS: The Disney Channel made a big statement over the weekend - it showed its first ever same-sex couple in a TV series.

6.50am I love this story on the SMH's Good Food - the search for the perfect dumpling. Mercury reporters have also stalked a good dumpling - Dumplingaholic in Corrimal is a winner, along with Roppongi in Wollongong. Delish!

6.48am 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!

6.46am NATIONAL: The $13 billion British department store retailer Marks & Spencer is accelerating plans to enter the crowded Australian market. Marks & Spencer has just appointed two new directors to a corporate entity known as Marks & Spencer (Australia) Pty Ltd which has previously been dormant for almost seven years, and is on the hunt for retail space in Sydney.

6.44am Have you been watching MKR? Looks like the series already has a new set of villainswho knew cooking could be so mean?!

6.42am LOCAL NEWS: No longer the exclusive domain of selfies, drunk party pictures and motivational fitness shots, Instagram is serious business - just ask William Patino. Mr Patino has amassed more than 35,000 followers for the stunning photographs of the Illawarra coastline he posts on the picture-sharing social media service. One follower in particular, the Canadian tourism board, was impressed enough to select him as one of a handful of official photographers to shoot the famed Northern Lights next month.

6.40am Readers, meet the liliger - part lion, part liger (lion/tiger hybrid) - completely cute.

6.38am STRANGE BUT TRUE: A judge has ordered a nun and two other Catholic peace activists to pay full restitution of nearly $60,000 for damaging the primary US storehouse for bomb-grade uranium.  The three were convicted of sabotage last year after they broke into the nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. (SMH)

6.36am Want to win family passes to watch our Hawks take on the Tigers? Enter our competition here.

6.34am NATIONAL: New ''one-punch'' laws are proving difficult to implement and the government has been forced to delay the introduction of mandatory sentencing for serious assaults until the end of next month. Many publicans still do not know whether theirs will be among venues in the Sydney CBD entertainment precinct subject to lockouts and 3am last drinks. The boundaries of the precinct have yet to be clearly identified. Read more here.

6.32am Speaking of sport, the Mercury’s sport journos will be launching some new columns this year. Watch out for some great new content!

6.30am SPORT: Michael Clarke is the latest Australian player to forgo a payday in the Indian Premier League, knocking back the opportunity to enter the upcoming auction to take a four-month break from cricket.

6.28am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Heidi Klum is back on the market! The model split with her bodyguard beau after a year of dating. NB does anyone else wish her and Seal would just work it out and get back together? They were too cute.

6.26am BREAKING: A woman is in police custody after Australian, Rodney Chambers, was found dead in a hotel room in the Phillipines. (Nine News)

6.25am LOCAL NEWS: Former Greenacres chief executive Neil Preston returned to a hero's welcome yesterday at the disability service's North Wollongong headquarters after being named Wollongong's Citizen of the Year.

6.24am POLITICS: A former prostitute has confirmed she regularly provided sexual services to Craig Thomson at the time the former federal MP was accused of illegally using Health Services Union funds. The woman met Mr Thomson while working under the name ''Misty'' for a Sydney escort agency in 2007, she said in a witness statement tendered to the Melbourne Magistrates Court and released on Tuesday.

6.22am Do you have artistic children? Why not enrol them in Wollongong City Gallery's after school art program? Check out all the details below.

6.20am Don't forget we're crossing every hour to Pulse 94.1FM with all the latest news from the Rush.

6.18am TV NEWS: Dr Who fans, lend me your ears. Fans can look forward to a new, harder-edged Doctor Who after Peter Capaldi revealed the 12th Time Lord's costume, which includes items synonymous with the skinhead subculture. Read all about it here.:

6.16am Here ye, here ye local musos. Want your news in our new Radar Illawarra local music column? Send info to joshua.butler@fairfaxmedia.com.au today.

6.14am SPORT: Former Wallaby star Kurtley Beale hopes a return to his old team and his preferred five-eighth position will kick-start his stalled career. PS The Waratahs were in town yesterday - check out our gallery of pics here.

6.12am A special good morning to all those kids heading back to school today! Hope your first day back is enjoyable :)

6.10am STRANGE BUT TRUE: In a long-awaited fusion between hot-blooded hormones and cold-headed engineering, a Japanese lingerie company has produced a bra they claim will only unlock when the wearer is really in love. NB I'm not sure what purpose this serves but I appreciate their efforts.

6.08am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Poor ol' Jude Law. The News of the World trial has reopened some old wounds about his good mate Daniel Craig's affair with his then-missus Sienna Miller.

6.06am Let's have a look at the national headlines (in the SMH), shall we?

*Tony Abbott is poised to announce a royal commission with sweeping powers to examine slush funds, corruption and malfeasance in the union movement.

*The bodies of Greg Hutchings and his four-year-old daughter Eeva were discovered by a state emergency service volunteer secreted under a tree in dunes not far from the beach where they had intended to swim.

*More than half of women who binge drink continue to do so during pregnancy, an Australian study has found, with fewer than one in five following guidelines to abstain from alcohol.

*Tony Abbott says appointing Australia’s former top soldier as governor-general was a case of the best person for the job and installing someone who could deliver leadership beyond politics.

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

*A Fairy Meadow serial hoaxer who summoned police and ambulance services to her home at least 10 times in five days has been sentenced to nine months in jail.

*A government-led transformation of early-education care is behind a sharp increase in childcare fees for Illawarra families in recent years.

*A Wollongong store owner has hit out at expensive tip fees, blaming rising rubbish dumping costs for the pile of junk that has appeared outside his store.

*Illawarra water catchment areas will not be protected from "fracking" under the state government's finalised coal seam gas reforms, CSG opponents have warned.

6.02am As the sun comes out (and what a gorgeous sunrise it was this morning), let's have a look at the latest weather, traffic & trains.

WEATHER It's going to be sunny with a top of 27 degrees, yay! Perfect beach weather. There will be some light winds around and the fire danger is very high so be careful. Right now it's 15 degrees in Albion Park and 20 in Bellambi.

TRAFFIC Everything looks sweet as a nut for the drive around the region & to Sydney.

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

6am Good morning and happy hump day! It's the middle of the week, yippee! Stay with us this morning for all the latest news and goss - there's lots happening!

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