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

8.51am That's it from us this morning! Enjoy your Valentine's Day and your weekend. Kate Walsh will be taking the reins next week - make her feel welcome, shower her with love! Ta ta.

8.48am TRAIN ALERT: Services on the Southern Highlands Line have returned to normal after a freight train derailment between Wingello & Goulburn.

8.45am LOCAL SPORT: The Australian Open lost two of its biggest drawcards yesterday with South Coast surfers Sally Fitzgibbons and Tyler Wright both bundled out of the Manly Beach-based tournament without reaching the fifth round.

8.42am Seacliff's famous high tea is on again this Sunday. Don't miss out!

8.39am WINTER OLYMPICS: A bobsleigh smashed into a course worker at the Olympic Games' Sanki sliding centre on Thursday leaving the man reportedly with both legs broken, an AFP reporter who witnessed the incident said. Read all the details here.

8.36am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Mila Kunis booked out an entire restaurant to celebrate boyfriend Ashton Kutcher's 36th birthday. Now, that will get you serious girlfriend points.

8.33am Have you been reading our new Radar Illawarra column? It's all about live music across the region. Check it out here.

8.30am NATIONAL NEWS: Virgin Australia has hit out at plans by the federal government to extend a helping hand to Qantas, warning that financial assistance for the country's largest airline will be to the ''detriment of the entire industry''.

8.27am LOCAL NEWS: The debate over the proposed Shellharbour City Hub continues with opponents of the $57 million project now accusing Shellharbour City Council of "intimidating tactics". Read more here.

8.24am Love live music? Head to the TBH on Sunday from 3pm to listen to the Alex Bowen Blues Trio.If you live further south, Aaron Oswald is playing at the Blue Diamond Bar in the Kiama Sebel from 1pm to 4pm on Sunday afternoon.

8.20am Are you sick and tired of your boring breakfast? Why not jazz it up with some Star Wars themed pancakes - too good!

8.15am Shellharbour's senior residents are the focus of a photo competition to promote images of positive ageing to the community. Submissions need to include a description of up to 50 words detailing how each image depicts a positive image of ageing. Entries close 5pm today and selected photographs will be exhibited at Shellharbour Village Exhibition Space from 17-21 March. To enter, visit Council’s website.

8.12am LOCAL SPORT: The Illawarra surf life saving community is mourning the passing of legendary boat sweep Don Burrows.

8.10am WORLD NEWS: An Atlantic City casino is celebrating Bacon Week. Yes, that's right Bacon Week - thinkbacon milkshakes, chocolate-covered bacon shaped like roses, bacon-flavoured toothpaste, dental floss and lip balm, bacon bourbon, margaritas, beer and vodka. OMG my heart! 

8.06am The Hollands! and Jonathon Bob Lynn are playing at the City Diggers tomorrow night from 7.30pm.

8.04am As I've mentioned, I'm planning a wedding. And those suckers are expensive! So, people have started taking out insurance for it. Yep insurance. Read more here.

8.02am STRANGE BUT TRUE: Warm temperatures in Sochi have skiers in sleeveless tops and spectators sunbathing. And I thought it was the Winter Olympics!? (AP)

8am NATIONAL NEWS: Police will ramp up their bid to find those behind at least 14 suspicious fires lit across Victoria in the past week with a dob-in campaign. Radio and print ads will urge the public to report any suspicious behaviour to Crime Stoppers. Homes, animals and crops have been lost in more than 400 fires that have raged across the state since last Thursday week and police are still investigating at least 14 suspicious fires lit during the past week across the state. (AAP)

7.58am LOCAL NEWS: Wollongong lifeguards have been named some of the best in the state, taking home bronze medals in the Bondi Lifeguard Challenge on Wednesday.

7.56am Open Gardens Australia presents an historic home and vibrant garden at Moss Vale this weekend. Admission: $7 (under 18 free). Visit their website for more information.

7.54am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Miss Piggy has been photographed wearing a Vivienne Westwood wedding gown - very similar to the one Carrie Bradshaw wore in the Sex & the City flick. Who wore it better? You be the judge...

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

*A rogue truckie has been caught on camera driving dangerously and smashing the side view mirror of a fellow motorist while travelling up Mount Ousley Road. Check out the video here.

*A survey of Wentworth Street shop owners and managers showed mixed feelings towards the planned demolition of the Port Kembla Copper smelter stack next week.

*Schools will pay a $20 participation fee for each student taking part in this year’s Southern Stars, an annual showcase of performing arts talent in the region’s public schools.

*The company behind once-popular Wollongong eatery Rocksalt Bar & Grill has been placed into liquidation, forcing several employees to turn to the government to help them recover nearly $30,000 in unpaid entitlements. Read more here.

7.51am TGIF and happy Valentine's Day if you've just tuned in! Let's have a look at the latest weather, traffic and trains for this loved-up morning.

WEATHER It's going to be another overcast day with rain at times. We're headed for a top of just 21 degrees. The weekend will be pretty similar - it's expected to hit 23 tomorrow and 22 on Sunday. There will be some light wind but right now it's pretty steamy again. It's 19 in Bellambi and 20 in Albion Park.

TRAFFIC Everything looks a-okay on the region's roads. That police operation at Caringbah (President Ave @ Kingsway) is still causing problems -the road is still closed westbound. Expect delays.

TRAINS There is a good service on the South Coast line but there are some delays on the Southern Highlands line.

7.48am BREAKING NATIONAL NEWS: Public hospitals are failing to meet targets on patient care and the Abbott government’s cuts will compound the problem, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) says.The AMA will today release its 2014 report card on the performance of the nation’s public hospitals. It will show the system is under enormous strain and is failing to meet targets set for the most urgent cases. (AAP)

7.46am MOVIE NEWS: Margot Robbie is in high demand - she's been cast in the reboot of Tarzan.

7.44am Leonie Watson is teaching ‘‘Creating Space in Painting and Drawing’’on Sunday. Time: 12pm-4pm. Venue: Wollongong Art Gallery. Cost: $65. For bookings or more information, phone 4227 8500.

7.42am WINTER OLYMPICS: This story is HILARIOUS - what do you do if you're young, hot, athletic and in a very small, rather cold area with other people exactly like you? Use the global dating phenomenon, Tinder, of course. US gold medal winner Jamie Anderson, 23, told Us Weekly how the athletes spend their downtime at the 2014 Winter Olympics. “Tinder in the Olympic Village is next level! It's all athletes. In the mountain village it's all athletes. It's hilarious. There are some cuties on there.

7.40am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Apparently Justin Bieber spent $241.78 on snacks at the movies. That's a LOT of popcorn. (E News)

7.38am STRANGE BUT (HOPEFULLY NOT) TRUE: Cricketer Shane Warne is reportedly working on an album of love songs in the style of James Blunt. Warne has apparently penned a love-lorn ballad about his split with Liz Hurley. “The song’s basically about life,” Warne told radio station Kiis FM. “I’m just putting it down. It could be absolute rubbish but I’m trying. I’m giving it to a mate who is in a pretty cool band and I’m going to see what he thinks of it.” (SMH) NB Can't WAIT to hear that one!

7.36am NATIONAL NEWS: Australia's Chief Scientist has expressed serious concerns about the increasing number of students who are poorly prepared for university by not having studied high level maths. Read more here.

7.34am Wild Rumpus presents its ‘‘French Cooking with Sarazine Le Creperie’’ from 10am-1pm on Sunday. Learn to cook delicious French cuisine. Location: Thirroul Railway Heritage Hall. Tickets: $50.

7.32am So, I've been wanting a pet - and I just found the ideal animal to complete my life ... the PANDOG! Check it out...

7.30am Victoria's Secret has announced plans to open its first Sydney CBD store. WOOHOO!

7.28am STRANGE BUT TRUE: After 50 years of debate over her unattainably perfect figure, Barbie is flaunting her frame in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit’s 50th anniversary issue. The magazine, which comes out on Tuesday, features well-known super models like Christie Brinkley alongside Barbie wearing the black-and-white swimsuit the plastic doll wore when she made her debut in 1959. (AAP)

7.26am WORLD NEWS: Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta has announced his resignation after the leadership of his centre-left Democratic Party voted in favour of an urgent change of government to push through reform.

7.24am Eugene Hideaway Bridges is playing at Jamberoo Pub tomorrow from 5:30pm.

7.22am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Kim Kardashian is at it again - she has worn a seriously daring fashion ensemble while shopping. Leather leggings, anyone?

7.20am SPORT: Alessandro Del Piero took a leading role in a players-only meeting held behind closed doors on Thursday aimed at ending the mounting crisis engulfing Sydney FC. Read all the details here.

7.18am Texting, surfing the internet or talking on the phone while driving is now one of the top five causes of fatalities on NSW roads, along with speeding, fatigue and drink driving, road safety officials say. NB Scary, isn't it?

7.16am LOCAL SPORT: Wavesailing champions Michael Westra and Brett Goodwin are expected to benefit from their knowledge of local conditions when the NSW Wavesailing Association state championships resume at Gerroa today.

7.14am A new survey has shown when it comes to a potential partner people in regional New South Wales consider nose picking worse than throwing rubbish out of a car window. Hmmm.

7.12am The Hollies will be performing at WIN Entertainment Centre on Sunday night from 8pm. Tickets are still available, visit www.ticketek.com.au to book.

7.10am BOOK NEWS: A letter in which author JRR Tolkien debates whether to change a major plot point in The Lord of The Rings is going up for auction. The note, written to Tolkien's publisher Rayner Unwin in 1955, describes the novelist's troubles while completing the third book in the trilogy, The Return of The King. Read all the details here.

7.08am CELEB GOSS ALERT: You could really start to hate Beyonce and Jay Z if they weren't so damn talented and attractive. The pair had a wonderful beach getaway in the Dominican Republic before Beyonce sets off on her latest European tour. Sigh.

7.06am BREAKING LOCAL NEWS: The sister of a double murderer has been sentenced to at least two years' jail for repeatedly stabbing her partner in their Sydney apartment. Belinda Van Krevel, 33, stabbed Marshall Gould five times in the neck, leg and arm in their Rockdale unit in June last year.

7.04am Tomorrow is the final night for the Botanic Gardens Sunset Cinema :( If you haven't been, you MUST go - it's a great night out. American Hustle is screening from sunset tomorrow.

7.02am TRAIN ALERT- Southern Highlands line: Buses are replacing the 6.09am Moss Vale to Goulburn train and the 7.40am return Goulburn to Moss Vale train.

7am Le Cirque Du Cabaret is on at the Wollongong Workshop Theatre this weekend. There's only two shows left - tonight and tomorrow from 8pm. Tickets are $15. Bookings 0455 896 501.

6.58am Even cats are sharing the V Day love. Awww, too cute!

6.56am BREAKING LOCAL NEWS: Police are investigating after a fatal motorcycle collision in Unanderra last night. About 9.30pm, emergency services were called to Princes Highway after reports of a collision between a Mazda 2 and a motorcycle. A 39-year-old man, who was riding the motorcycle, sustained serious injuries and died at the scene. The driver of the car, a woman aged 24, was not injured during the collision but was taken to Wollongong Hospital for mandatory blood and urine testing. A report will be prepared for the information of the Coroner.

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

*A rogue truckie has been caught on camera driving dangerously and smashing the side view mirror of a fellow motorist while travelling up Mount Ousley Road. Check out the video here.

*A survey of Wentworth Street shop owners and managers showed mixed feelings towards the planned demolition of the Port Kembla Copper smelter stack next week.

*Schools will pay a $20 participation fee for each student taking part in this year’s Southern Stars, an annual showcase of performing arts talent in the region’s public schools.

*The company behind once-popular Wollongong eatery Rocksalt Bar & Grill has been placed into liquidation, forcing several employees to turn to the government to help them recover nearly $30,000 in unpaid entitlements. Read more here.

6.52am TGIF and happy Valentine's Day if you've just tuned in! Let's have a look at the latest weather, traffic and trains for this loved-up morning.

WEATHER It's going to be another overcast day with rain at times. We're headed for a top of just 21 degrees. The weekend will be pretty similar - it's expected to hit 23 tomorrow and 22 on Sunday. There will be some light wind but right now it's pretty steamy again. It's 19 in Bellambi and 20 in Albion Park.

TRAFFIC Everything looks a-okay on the region's roads. There is a police operation at Caringbah (President Ave @ Kingsway) - the road is closed westbound. Expect delays.

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

6.50am CELEB GOSS ALERT: If you missed this yesterday, I'm sorry - Billy Ray Cyrus has challenged his daughter Miley to a twerking contest. And there's video of his efforts.

6.48am Is anyone else obsessed with the figure skating at the Winter Olympics? I cannot get enough - even though I have NO idea what's going on, it's the sparkly costumes, the semi-daginess of it and all the jumping. Anywho, this story is very sad - one of Russia's fave competitors had to bow out due to severe back pain.

6.46am STRANGE BUT TRUE: A Pittsburgh man is facing animal cruelty charges after he allegedly used a machete to decapitate his mother's Chihuahua. (AP)

6.44am Keen to get your littlies interested in art? A free, fun tour through Wollongong Art Gallery, designed for 3-5 year-olds, is on today. The children will explore art works through story-telling, art making and songs and games.Time: 10am-10:45am. Bookings essential.Phone 4227 8500.

6.42am Um, so some people are seriously stupidly talented. Check out these cupcakes - they are beautiful. I can't even make toast!

6.40am SPORT: Thunderbolts from mother nature brought a premature end to the second day of the first Test at Centurion Park. They arrived after thunderbolts from Mitch Johnson brought South Africa to its knees. NB Mwahahaha - we love dominating in the cricket!

6.38am LOCAL NEWS: The Environment Protection Authority is investigating the sewage seep that occurred in Belmore Basin last month.

6.36am Okay, so V Day can be a little sickly for singletons & people who just ain't into it. So, I bring you the single girl's guide to Valentine's Day - yes girlie sleep-overs are a must.

6.34am We want your selfies ... with the stack! Send in a pic of yourself with the Port Kembla stack via our iPhone app and you’ll go into the draw to win a $50 Coles Myer Gift Card. NB Most creative entries win! Entries open until Tuesday.

6.32am NATIONAL NEWS: A 16-year-old boy has been charged with one count of sexual assault by detectives investigating the alleged gang rape of a 14-year-old girl that has shocked the community and inflamed racial tensions in western Sydney. Read more here.

6.30am Speaking of V Day, Kiama Public School made their own tribute to the special love day yesterday, forming a huge heart on the school oval. Love it!

6.28am Looking to woo your lover this Valentine's Day? Here's 50 tracks to make them swoon. NB So happy to see Ryan Adams at the top of the list, the man is a GOD.

6.26am NATIONAL NEWS: This is seriously one of the saddest stories I have read - a young boy was bashed to death with a cricket bat by his mentally ill father in Victoria yesterday. Read more about his life, his father's history of family violence and his amazing mum here.

6.24am Don't forget - if you're not "show-ed out", the Kangaroo Valley show is on today and tomorrow.

6.22am LOCAL NEWS: A 14-year-old girl who suffered major internal injuries and a brain bleed in a crash at Unanderra in December has made steps on her road to recovery. Read more here.

6.20am WORLD NEWS: So the weather be getting CRAZY in the US - a thick layer of ice covered much of the deep south on Thursday and most of the cities of the south from Birmingham to Myrtle Beach were still locked down from a large winter storm that was moving up the east coast. At least 800,000 customers in the south are without power, 344,000 in Georgia alone, and at least 12 deaths have been attributed to the weather. The storm has now moved to NY, making travel virtually impossible.

6.18am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Orlando Bloom is moving on - and out - from Miranda Kerr. He was spotted canoodling with another lady! I'm still sad about this one - couldn't they make it work!? They're both so pretty...

6.16am LOCAL SPORT: The Hawks are playing at the WEC tonight - hopefully they show no love as they battle it out from 7.30pm. Basketball writer Tim Keeble has all the details on the game in this week's edition of Hoopla. Check it out.

6.14am MOVIE NEWS: This story is a CLASSIC - The dead bodies of Wolf Creek 2 are so realistic that police were called to investigate "murders" at makeup effects artist Rick Connelly's home. Read the whole story here. NB The first film scared the bejesus out of me!

6.12am It's Valentine's Day. Awww, so romantic. If you haven't got plans yet, why not head to the sunset cinema tonight at the Wollongong Botanic Gardens to see About TimeOr take your sweetie for a bang-up three-course meal at the Brewery - they're doing a special V Day dinner.

6.10am BREAKING NATIONAL NEWS: The Indonesian government has banned Schapelle Corby from doing a television interview because it will cause "restlessness" in the local community. If she goes ahead anyway, local authorities have threatened to revoke her parole and send her back to Kerobokan prison.

6.08am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Where the bloody hell is Lara Bingle? Um well she's in New York - yep, the model has traded her Sydney home for New York with actor BF Sam Worthington.

6.06am Let's check out the national headlines, courtesy of the SMH:

* Treasurer Joe Hockey has declared Sydney must have a second airport, arguing it will be an essential driver of jobs, growth and investment in the city’s west.

*The former head of the Game Council, whose illegal killing of a feral goat started a chain reaction that led to the abolition of the council, has been convicted of hunting and firearms offences.

*Treasurer Joe Hockey has signalled the federal government is ready to throw a lifeline to Qantas in the form of a debt guarantee.

*Soaring jobless numbers and soft economic data have forced the Treasurer Joe Hockey to rethink the severity of his first budget as he declares it will now be ‘‘focused on growth’’.

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

*A rogue truckie has been caught on camera driving dangerously and smashing the side view mirror of a fellow motorist while travelling up Mount Ousley Road. Check out the video here.

*A survey of Wentworth Street shop owners and managers showed mixed feelings towards the planned demolition of the Port Kembla Copper smelter stack next week.

*Schools will pay a $20 participation fee for each student taking part in this year’s Southern Stars, an annual showcase of performing arts talent in the region’s public schools.

*The company behind once-popular Wollongong eatery Rocksalt Bar & Grill has been placed into liquidation, forcing several employees to turn to the government to help them recover nearly $30,000 in unpaid entitlements. Read more here.

6.02am Let's have a look at the latest weather, traffic and trains for this loved-up morning.

WEATHER It's going to be another overcast day with rain at times. We're headed for a top of just 21 degrees. The weekend will be pretty similar - it's expected to hit 23 tomorrow and 22 on Sunday. There will be some light wind but right now it's pretty steamy again. It's 19 in Bellambi and 20 in Albion Park.

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

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

6am TGIF! We made it to the end of the week! Woohoo! Stay with us this morning for all the latest news & goss, we've got a bucketload! Oh, and happy Valentine's Day!!

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