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

8.39am That's it from us this morning! Join us tomorrow for the TGIF edition of the Rush. Enjoy your Thursday - even if it is a bit overcast :(

8.36am So New York Fashion Week kicks off soon - and the process of deciding who sits where is more complicated than rocket science. Read here for all the details.

8.32am The World Photography Organisation has announced the shortlists for the professional, open and youth categories of the 2014 Sony world photography awards. Have a look at these images - they are truly stunning.

8.27am LOCAL NEWS: The southern end of Wollongong Harbour will reopen to swimmers next Tuesday following the completion of repairs to the Fishermen's Co-op Building sewerage system.

8.25am MOVIE NEWS: A Washington-based screenwriter is hoping for a bumper payday after demanding Tom Cruise and his film company pay him $US1 billion ($1.12 billion) for allegedly stealing his script to make the 2011 hit movie Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. Read more here.

8.22am LOCAL SPORT: Star guard Rotnei Clarke hopes to bust out of a month-long shooting slump when the Wollongong Hawks host the Adelaide 36ers on Sunday at WIN Entertainment Centre.

8.20am Check out what our Aussie competitors will be wearing in Sochi for the Winter Olympics - I quite like our uniform.

8.18am Don't forget the Twilight Markets are on tomorrow night. Flagstaff Hill. 5:30pm-8:30pm.

8.15am BREAKING: Police have raided properties in the Blue Mountains, seizing more than 300 cannabis plants and other illegal drugs and charging 10 people with drug supply. The five early-morning raids on homes in Katoomba and Leura yesterday follow a six-month investigation by Strike Force Elrond into the supply of illegal drugs in the area. Police said they found and seized 310 cannabis plants and four kilograms of cannabis with an estimated potential street value of more than $470,000. (AAP)

8.13am Burlesque is experiencing a mini-revival in Wollongong, as women pursue the lost art of the sensual performance. Three Illawarra performers will compete at the semi-finals of Miss Burlesque NSW in March, supported by a community of burlesque schools, regular performance nights, dancers, and fans. Read more about it here.

8.10am So, it's estimated that Aussies spent more than $600 million last year on non-invasive cosmetic procedures such as Botox, fillers and other skin rejuvenation procedures. WOW. If that's you - check out the 2014 cosmetic trends - vampire facial, anyone? I don't even want to ask....

8.07am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Katy Perry is officially the most followed person in the universe. On Twitter that is. She has 50 million followers. Wowser!

8.04am LOCAL NEWS: Illawarra WIRES has made a desperate plea for home owners to secure the netting on their fruit trees, in an attempt to protect the region’s flying fox population. Volunteers have been inundated with calls to rescue flying foxes that have become caught in loose netting, rendering them unable to fly.

8.01am WORLD NEWS: There will be no Barack Obama, no David Cameron and no Angela Merkel in the stadium when the Winter Olympics open in Sochi on Friday, but Vladimir Putin will at least be able to enjoy the company of China's president, Xi Jinping, Japan's prime minister, Shinzo Abe, and Turkey's prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as well as the UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon.  The Kremlin hoped to see dozens of world leaders at the opening ceremony, but the Winter Olympics is not regarded as a "must attend" event, and many in the west have been put off by controversy in the buildup to the Games, notably the passing of a new law banning "gay propaganda". (The Guardian)

7.59am TV NEWS: Australian actress Judy Davis has quit the reboot of the US action series 24. Davis was scheduled to start work on the series in London this week, but has bowed out of the project at the eleventh hour. According to the US entertainment industry trade news website Deadline, "personal family matters" are behind Davis' decision. (SMH)

7.56am NYC cabs are so synonymous with the city - check out these pics taken from behind the driver's seat of a cab. Such a great way to see this amazing city.

7.54am Here's what's making news in your Mercury today:

*The father of a Wollongong solicitor killed in a house fire at Corrimal believed his daughter had ended her on-off intimate relationship with one of her alleged killers in the weeks leading up to her death.

* A decision on whether to extend fishing in South Coast marine sanctuaries, perhaps allowing it permanently, could be made as early as next week.

*The Thirroul Beach Markets, which were made defunct late last year after strong community opposition, could be resurrected at Bulli Showground.

*A Wollongong man who died as he was being restrained by police had clutched at his heart a week earlier, apparently suffering chest pains, a court has heard. Read more here.

7.52am Morning! Let's check all the latest weather, traffic and trains, shall we?

WEATHER We're in for a pretty gloomy day - the chance of a morning shower and a top of just 21 degrees. Wintery conditions! It will be cloudy for most of the day. Right now, it's 16 at Albion Park and 17 in Bellambi.

TRAFFIC Everything looks a-okay on the region's roads and for the run to Sydney.

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

7.50am SPORT: Central Coast Mariners midfielder and former Socceroo Mile Sterjovski has announced he will retire at the end of the A-League season. Sterjovski, who represented Australia on 43 occasions before retiring from international football after missing out on selection for the 2010 World Cup, took to Twitter last night to announce his decision. The 34-year-old began his career in the National Soccer League - the precursor to the A-League - with Wollongong Wolves before stints at Sydney United and Parramatta Power. (SMH)

7.48am NATIONAL NEWS: Queensland police were aware of allegations boys held in state care were being flown to Sydney to be abused by a millionaire and a chef in the mid-1970s, a former assistant police commissioner says. Retired assistant commissioner David Jefferies told the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse that he received information a Queensland millionaire, known as JA, flew boys to Sydney to be abused as part of a paedophile ring. (The Guardian)

7.46am BREAKING WORLD NEWS: Scotland has legalised marriage equality. On ya Scots!

7.44am A funny story from Good Food - stemless wine glasses, what's the deal? I personally love them - they're less easy to break and they look lovely. But apparently, they're more than just aesthetically pleasing....

7.42am Do you love Disney princesses? Dying to see a Disney classic on the big screen? Watch our Facebook page this week for your chance to win tickets.

7.40am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Oh Justin Bieber, you can't catch a break - new reports claim there was so much marijuana smoke in his plane, the pilots had to wear oxygen masks. The Biebs (and his dad!) were also "extremely abusive verbally" to a flight attendant. Oh dear - can't Belieb it.

7.38am So, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers revelation that they were "miming" at the Superbowl has stirred up a bit of controversy. But really, who hasn't mimed a good ditty!? Check out these great moments in miming - the Liza Minelli one is classic!

7.36am LOCAL NEWS: David Jones will review its Wollongong operations next year when the lease expires on its CBD homewares store. A spokesman said there were no plans to close the department store in Crown Street Mall but consideration may be given to moving the homewares section on the northern side of the mall into the main store. The lease on the smaller site is set to expire in October 2015.

7.34am 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!

7.32am NATIONAL NEWS: Australia's greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector are down about 7.6 per cent since the carbon tax was introduced in July 2012, or the equivalent of about 14.8 million tonnes. Read more here.

7.30am BREAKING CELEB GOSS: Get ready, 1D fans: One Direction is opening themed cafés around the world! Oh dear lord. (E Online)

7.28am Did you know Towradgi Beach Hotel has a new menu? And it looks delish - lots of yummy burgers. Pop in for a bite and report back!

7.26am STRANGE BUT TRUE: "Infovore'', the phrase coined to describe a person addicted to the rush of digital information, has been named Macquarie Dictionary's word of 2013. Also making the list? Onesie. Yep, once strictly the domain of babies, the onsie has now become common foddor.

7.24am We've got a great story from our reporter Josh Butler - he braved the Illawarra skies & sky-dived - all in the name of the good yarn. Brave guy, well done Josh! Read all about his plunge here.

7.22am BREAKING: The results of an autopsy on Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman's body were inconclusive. (SMH)

7.18am LOCAL SPORT: St George Illawarra's newly-hired muscle Joel Thompson had pretty much made up his mind - it was going to be the Dragons over the Raiders. Read more here.

7.16am NATIONAL NEWS: A cricket fan who was found with a pet pig at the Gabba during the first Ashes test has agreed to undergo mediation with the RSPCA. Australian cricket fan David Gunn, 33, was charged with animal cruelty after the pig was allegedly smuggled into the Brisbane sportsground with its snout taped shut and disguised as a baby. The Brisbane magistrates court heard yesterday that the case had been referred to mediation. NB I love everything about this story - mainly that he disguised the pig as a baby! (The Guardian)

7.14am Don't forget Nowra show is on this weekend. Entry: Adults $10, Children $5. Parking is $5.

7.12am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Ellen Degeneres and Sofia Vergara have teamed up for an '80s-style fashion shoot - with hilarious results.

7.10am STRANGE BUT TRUE: Wendi Deng, the former wife of Rupert Murdoch, allegedly developed a passionate obsession with Tony Blair and wrote a note in which she rhapsodised about his “good body and really really good legs [and] Butt”. Miss Deng is said to have become infatuated with the former Prime Minister while she was still married to the media mogul. In the note, Chinese-born Miss Deng is alleged to have written in broken English: “Oh, s***, oh, s***. Whatever why I’m so so missing Tony. Because he is so so charming and his clothes are so good. (SMH)

7.08am Peppa Pig fans, rejoice! The pesky little swine is on her way to Wollongong in June.

7.06am Want to win tickets to see our Hawks take on the Crocs at the WEC on Feb 14? Well, enter here!

7.04am LOCAL NEWS: Illawarra teenager Louise O'Brien was struck on the forehead with a vacuum cleaner pole by a family friend because a table was dusty, Wollongong District Court heard yesterday.

7.02am MOVIE NEWS: The first footage from Michael Winterbottom's film, Face of an Angel, a drama inspired by the Amanda Knox case, has premiered on Variety's website. Check it out here.

7am SPORT: On the eve of the one-year anniversary of the "blackest day in Australian sport", Cronulla have been rocked by news a third player is now suing the club. Fairfax Media can reveal that former player Broderick Wright is taking legal action against the club, joining ex-teammates Isaac Gordon and Josh Cordoba in a lawsuit against Cronulla.

6.56am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Kim Kardashian and Kanye West have bumped up their wedding day - and they want baby North to have a big part in the celebrations.

6.54am POLITICS: A$3000-a-week house rented in Canberra last year for the Prime Minister has been quietly handed back to the landlord without Tony Abbott having set foot inside. But the public servants who splashed out on the luxury home will not come clean on how much taxpayers' money they paid to back out of the lease. The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet was left red-faced in November after it was revealed in Senate Estimates that it rented the luxury home in Forrest for $156,000, in the lead-up to the September 7 election. The Arthur Circle house was meant to be the PM's Canberra base while The Lodge was refurbished.

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

*The father of a Wollongong solicitor killed in a house fire at Corrimal believed his daughter had ended her on-off intimate relationship with one of her alleged killers in the weeks leading up to her death.

* A decision on whether to extend fishing in South Coast marine sanctuaries, perhaps allowing it permanently, could be made as early as next week.

*The Thirroul Beach Markets, which were made defunct late last year after strong community opposition, could be resurrected at Bulli Showground.

*A Wollongong man who died as he was being restrained by police had clutched at his heart a week earlier, apparently suffering chest pains, a court has heard. Read more here.

6.50am Good morning & happy Thursday! Let's check all the latest weather, traffic and trains, shall we?

WEATHER We're in for a pretty gloomy day - the chance of a morning shower and a top of just 21 degrees. Wintery conditions! It will be cloudy for most of the day. Right now, it's 16 at Albion Park and 17 in Bellambi.

TRAFFIC Everything looks a-okay on the region's roads. There is a car breakdown at San Souci (Rocky Pt Rd at Sandringham St) - one southbound lane is closed but traffic is okay. 

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

6.48am WORLD NEWS: The Vatican must remove all child sexual abusers from their posts and turn them over to the police, the United Nations children's rights watchdog said on Wednesday. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child urged the Holy See to "immediately remove all known and suspected child sexual abusers from assignment and refer the matter to the relevant law enforcement authorities for investigation and prosecution purposes".

6.46am This story was on the SMH yesterday - it's a really sad yarn about the lady that Sydney forgot. Natalie Wood had been dead inside her home for eight years before anyone found her. Now her family are fighting over her $1 million fortune.

6.44am LOCAL SPORT: South Coast president Bobby Mazevski believes the Wolves' high profile move to WIN Stadium is a risk they need to take. The former NSL champions announced yesterday they would be calling the beachside venue home for the 2014 season after months of negotiations with Venues NSW and WIN Stadium.

6.42am BREAKING: Shots have been fired into a home in one of two shootings in Sydney’s southwest. Six shots were fired at the the Ian Place house at Casula about 1.15 this morning, while a single shot was fired into a car at Bonnyrigg Heights about 15 minutes earlier. Police found bullet holes in the Casula home’s garage door and lounge room window in what police believe was a targeted attack. The occupants were home at the time, but weren’t injured. (AAP)

6.40am Did you miss MKR last night? Here's a little wrap-up for you. I really have to start watching - but it's past my bedtime!

6.38am STRANGE BUT TRUE: One of the least expected images to emerge from the Winter Olympics in Sochi has been the double loos – yes, side by side like thrones. It has to be seen to be believed. Check it out.

6.36am Anyone else sick of seeing people's "Facebook films" in their feed? Seriously, so annoying.

6.34am CELEB NEWS: New York police have arrested four people on drug charges connected to the death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. Read more here.

6.32am LOCAL NEWS: Wollongong City Council’s plans to rezone 1556 hectares of environmentally sensitive land surrounding Helensburgh, Otford and Stanwell Park have hit a procedural snag in the NSW Government planning process. On Wednesday the NSW Planning’s deputy director general Richard Pearson announced the council’s rezoning plans for the area, formally known as 7d lands, would be referred to the independent Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) for further review.

6.28am MUSIC GOSS: So, this is happening - Britney Spears and Lady Gaga are teaming up to record a little tune together.

6.26am NATIONAL NEWS: If you missed this yesterday - a final decision on Schapelle Corby’s parole application will be considered within the next three days. Indonesia’s justice minister, Amir Syamsuddin, has told local press he has received Corby’s parole application and will decide whether to grant her freedom in the next three days, meaning she could walk out of jail in the next few weeks.

6.24am LOCAL SPORT: We've got the latest edition of Hoopla with basketball writer Tim Keeble. Check it out here.

6.22am Like to start your morning with a bit of history? Check out our flashback gallery - we're looking at what was happening in the Illawarra 10 years ago.

6.20am WORLD NEWS: Millions of commuters in London have faced delay and disruption after Tube staff went on strike over plans to close ticket offices on the subway train system. The 48-hour walk-out on the network, which carries one billion passengers a year, led to three of the 11 Tube lines being shut on Wednesday and others operating a reduced service, while many stations were closed. (SMH)

6.18am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Selena Gomez has revealed she was in rehab - but not for substance abuseJust for a rest. I think.

6.16am Happy birthday if you're celebrating today! You share your birthday with Bob Marley.

6.14am BOOK NEWS: The only work of fiction ever written by Charlie Chaplin, a dark, nostalgic novella which was the root of his great film Limelight, and which has lain unpublished for over 60 years, is being made public for the first time. Footlights, which runs to 34,000 words, traces the same story as Chaplin's valedictory film Limelight – that of an ageing, alcoholic clown Calvero and the ballerina he saves from suicide.

6.12am Grab your popcorn and your chair and head to the Botanic Gardens sunset cinema tonight - Rush is screening.

6.10am SPORT: Reigning snowboard halfpipe champion Shaun White pulled out of the Olympic slopestyle event yesterday, prompting taunts from rivals. White had voiced concerns about the condition and difficulty of the slopestyle course during training runs earlier this week.

6.08am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Sarah Jessica Parker and Cameron Diaz are both releasing their own shoe lines. Check out their style below.

6.06am Let's have a look at the national headlines, courtesy of the SMH:

*Big banks could be forced to refund more than $55 million to their customers, after the Federal Court found ANZ had charged ‘‘extravagant, exorbitant and unconscionable’’ late payment fees on credit cards.

*New laws requiring 1.30am lockouts and 3am last drinks in venues that serve alcohol will be imposed from February 24 across central Sydney.

*Simon Gittany’s model girlfriend Rachelle Louise and a group of loyal supporters turned the convicted murderer’s Supreme Court sentencing hearing into a protest about his innocence.

*The state and federal governments could be heading for a clash over funding for transport links to a Badgerys Creek airport, as Tony Abbott prepares to announce a decision has been made on the site.

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

*The father of a Wollongong solicitor killed in a house fire at Corrimal believed his daughter had ended her on-off intimate relationship with one of her alleged killers in the weeks leading up to her death.

* A decision on whether to extend fishing in South Coast marine sanctuaries, perhaps allowing it permanently, could be made as early as next week.

*The Thirroul Beach Markets, which were made defunct late last year after strong community opposition, could be resurrected at Bulli Showground.

*A Wollongong man who died as he was being restrained by police had clutched at his heart a week earlier, apparently suffering chest pains, a court has heard. Read more here.

6.02am Let's check all the latest weather, traffic and trains, shall we?

WEATHER We're in for a pretty gloomy day - the chance of a morning shower and a top of just 21 degrees. Wintery conditions! It will be cloudy for most of the day. Right now, it's 15 at Albion Park and 17 in Bellambi.

TRAFFIC Everything looks a-okay on the region's roads and for the drive to Sydney.

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

6am Good morning and happy Thursday! We're nearing the end of the week - anyone else feel like this year is already just flying by?! Stay with us this morning for more news than you can poke a stick at.

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