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

8.58am That's it from me this morning. I'll join you again tomorrow for another edition of the Rush

8.55am Looking for something to do this weekend? Illawarra camping, caravan, 4WD, fishing & boating show is on at Kembla Grange if you're feeling outdoorsy.

8.52am A new study has maternal grandmothers who ate well during pregnancy and kept their daughters well-nourished in their first few years had heavier, and therefore healthier, grandchildren. So maybe check with your Mum how many Tim Tams she craved during her own pregnancy! SMH

8.48am Tomorrow is D-Day: the stack is coming down. Be sure to head to the Mercury's website tomorrow morning for updates on what's going on around Port Kembla.

8.45am Google has bought an Israel-based start-up specialising in using sounds instead of passwords for logging in. Could the weird combinations of mothers' maiden names, birthdays and favourite foods to access our computers be a thing of the past?

8.40am Fancy rigging your own fortune. Good Food has a recipe for making your own fortune cookies. The secret is to work super fast. You could definitely have some fun with this at your next dinner party.

8.37am  Illawarra Lapidary Club Rock and Mineral Fair is on Sunday at Stuart Park from 9am to 2pm. Members of the club will be selling minerals, fossils, lapidary work, jewellery, books and lapidary equipment. There will be three rock scrambles this year at 11am, 12 noon and 1pm where children and young people can "bag" themselves a specimen.

8.34am CELEB NEWS As far as engagement rings go, this is a pretty big one. Christina Aguilera has announced her impending nuptials to beau Matthew Rutler.

8.30am A young stable of musicians will be flying the flag for Gen Y in the Kiama Jazz and Blues Festival next month. The free festival is on between March 7 and 9

8.27am  LOCAL NEWS A woman accused of a hit-and-run at Helensburgh that left a cyclist in hospital with a broken back has appeared in Wollongong Local Court.

Police allege Talia Jade Van-Rysewyk, 24, failed to stop after hitting Brendan Braid as he cycled along the Old Princes Highway in January.

Mr Braid suffered two fractured vertebrae, a broken femur, a cracked pelvis and fractured ankle as a result of the accident.

The Engadine woman, who is yet to enter a plea, requested an adjournment to seek advice from Legal Aid.

8.23am BREAKING WORLD NEWS At least nine people, including seven civilians and two police officers, have died during clashes between protesters and police in Kiev overnight.

8.20am Reporter Josh Butler spoke to The Chaser's Chris Taylor about he and Andrew Hansen's upcoming show in the Gong.

You'd thinki nothing could faze him after years spent bailing up pollies and celebrities, but Taylor admits to being a little nervous about the tour. Read the full story here.

8.16am 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.

8.13am TRAFFIC NEWS Anyone travelling towards or past Campbelltown this morning should expect delays on the Hume Motorway. An accident involving two trucks two kilometres south of Narellan Road earlier on has banked traffic back several kilometres. Emergency services are working to clear the wreckage.

8.09am OLYMPIC NEWS Alex “Chumpy” Pullin failed to progress past the quarterfinals of the snowboard cross. Considered Australia's best chance for a gold medal at the Winter Olympics, the snowboarder said he was "bummed" the run didn't go his way. SMH

8.06am Let's take a look at national headlines, courtesy of the SMH

*Former federal MP Craig Thomson has been found him guilty of misusing thousands of dollars of union funds for a range of personal expenses, including sexual services.

Thomson has a four-week wait to hear whether he will be jailed for up to five years for his crimes while he was the national secretary of the Health Services Union between 2002 and 2007.

*A government inquiry is to be held into violent clashes on Manus Island that left one Iranian asylum seeker dead and scores of others severely injured.

Tensions escalted between asylum seekers, the security forces, the local police and PNG residents earlier this week, with up to 77 people injured.

*Former energy minister Chris Hartcher and central coast MPs Chris Spence and Darren Webber are set to be suspended from the Liberal Party after being named in two major corruption inquiries.

The decision was taken on Tuesday night after the O'Farrell government was dragged into the scandal surrounding the family of former Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid.

8.03am Here's what's making news in today's Mercury

*Staff at Wollongong's Gladstone Street Best Western Hotel face an uncertain future as an unnamed buyer prepares to snap up 44 of the complex's 55 units.

The hotel's previous owner, Invest Serviced Apartments, which contracted Best Western as the brand/hotel group, went into receivership in July 2009.

Since then, insolvency firm PPB Advisory has managed the property on behalf of Macquarie Bank. A PPB spokesman said while the buyer wanted to remain anonymous for now, he could confirm the building would continue to be run as a hotel.

*A 90-year-old man who jumped from a balcony to escape his burning Gerringong house on Monday has died in hospital.

Eric Wagstaff was taken to Royal North Shore Hospital suffering from serious burns, but died yesterday afternoon.

His 88-year-old wife Lillian died in the house fire. A report is being prepared for the coroner.

*A Supreme Court jury has been empanelled in Sydney to hear the case against three people accused of murdering Wollongong lawyer Katie Foreman.

Bradley Max Rawlinson, Bernard Justin Spicer and Michelle Sharon Proud, from Eastern Creek, stand accused of murdering Ms Foreman by setting her Corrimal home on fire in 2011.

In a Darlinghurst courtroom yesterday, the trio formally entered not guilty pleas to a charge of murder.

8am Let's get an update on what's happening out there this morning.

WEATHER Another partly cloudy day, although it will be a bit hotter than earlier this week, reaching a possible maximum of 30 degrees in Wollongong. There will be scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms throughout the day, but those should clear by tonight. 

TRAFFIC It’s looking like a very clear run from Nowra to Sydney this morning. Don’t forget about the road works at Gerringong and Mount Ousley (at Picton Road).

TRAINS There is good service on the South Coast line

7.56am  Come and support the best up-and-coming comedians in the region as they take part in Australia’s biggest, most prestigious open mic comedy competition tomorrow night. This heat will determine who from the local area travels to Sydney for the semi-finals. Time: 8pm. Venue: Illawarra Performing Arts Centre. Tickets: $22 + booking fee at www.merringong.com.au

7.52am NATIONAL NEWS The funeral for 11-year-old Luke Batty who was killed by his father last week after a Melbourne cricket practice will be held on Friday. Luke’s funeral will be held at his former school, the Flinders Christian Community College at Tyabb, where he was in Year Six. Mourners have been asked to wear something yellow in his memory. AAP

7.48am LOCAL NEWS Illawarra TAFE has cut face-to-face teaching time for its apprentice electricians to make up a budget blow-out of $1000 per student, according to teachers.

The claim runs contrary to those of Illawarra TAFE, which says the changes are aimed at offering students greater flexibility, and are not motivated by cost-cutting.

7.45am After something to do this weekend? John Waters and Stewart D’Arrietta return to Wollongong to perform Looking Through A Glass Onion. Illawarra Performing Arts Centre. For details and tickets visit: ipac.org.au or phone: 42245999

7.41am Time for some cute animals. It's penguins - and they're wearing sweaters 

7.38am The Mercury’s sport journos will be launching some new columns this year. Watch out for some great new content.

7.35am NATIONAL NEWS The Comancheros bikie gang is being targeted in raids across Victoria. Police say they are executing a large number of warrants across the state at clubhouses and homes of Comancheros bikie members and associates this morning. Police are expected to hold a media conference later today. AAP

7.31am MORE CELEB NEWS Gossip Girl would be shocked! The OC's Adam Brody and Gossip Girl's Leighton Meester have apparently tied the knot in secret after almost a year of dating. What would Summer and Chuck have to say?

7.28am CELEB NEWS Bob Casale, one of the original members of Devo (the band that brought us Whip It), died from heart failure on Monday at the age of 61.

7.25am The crazy nail art of last year has made way for a more subdued, yet still fancy-pants, nails. Check out this gallery of perfect manis from New York Fashion Week.

7.21am Thinking of getting away? The SMH has a list of the top ten must-do excursions when you visit Asia. Top of my list is a trip to Angkor Wat in Cambodia - which I am hopefully doing in April.

7.19am I will take any excuse for cake. Port Kembla's Tonitto Cakes has marked tomorrow's PKC stack demolition in its own unique way - with a sweet creation baked especially for the occasion. Check out the delicious mudcake here

7.16am CELEB NEWS Actress Selena Gomez and One Directioner Niall Horan were spotted together in London over the weekend, causing a frenzy of Twitter speculation over whether the pair were dating. Their reps insist they are just friends, but that probably won't stop hoards of Directioners flinging their wrath at Gomez. ENEWS

7.13am NATIONAL NEWS A man has been taken to hospital after being shot in Sydney’s south. Police and emergency services were called to Fleet Street in Carlton about 4.10am On Wednesday following reports a man had been shot. Officers found the 24-year-old with injuries to his groin and wrist. He was taken to St George Hospital where he remains in a stable condition. AAP

7.10am WORLD NEWS Violence erupted in Ukranian capital Kiev on Tuesday night as riot police officers broke through barricades protecting a protest encampment.

Protests against President Viktor F. Yanukovych have been ongoing for the past two months, but reached a head when anti-government activists moved out of their barricaded zone around Independence Square and advanced into a government-controlled district

There were unconfirmed reports that at least three protesters had been killed. SMH

7.06am Let's take a look at national headlines, courtesy of the SMH

*Former federal MP Craig Thomson has been found him guilty of misusing thousands of dollars of union funds for a range of personal expenses, including sexual services.

Thomson has a four-week wait to hear whether he will be jailed for up to five years for his crimes while he was the national secretary of the Health Services Union between 2002 and 2007.

*A government inquiry is to be held into violent clashes on Manus Island that left one Iranian asylum seeker dead and scores of others severely injured.

Tensions escalted between asylum seekers, the security forces, the local police and PNG residents earlier this week, with up to 77 people injured.

*Former energy minister Chris Hartcher and central coast MPs Chris Spence and Darren Webber are set to be suspended from the Liberal Party after being named in two major corruption inquiries.

The decision was taken on Tuesday night after the O'Farrell government was dragged into the scandal surrounding the family of former Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid.

7.03am Here's what's making news in today's Mercury

*Staff at Wollongong's Gladstone Street Best Western Hotel face an uncertain future as an unnamed buyer prepares to snap up 44 of the complex's 55 units.

The hotel's previous owner, Invest Serviced Apartments, which contracted Best Western as the brand/hotel group, went into receivership in July 2009.

Since then, insolvency firm PPB Advisory has managed the property on behalf of Macquarie Bank. A PPB spokesman said while the buyer wanted to remain anonymous for now, he could confirm the building would continue to be run as a hotel.

*A 90-year-old man who jumped from a balcony to escape his burning Gerringong house on Monday has died in hospital.

Eric Wagstaff was taken to Royal North Shore Hospital suffering from serious burns, but died yesterday afternoon.

His 88-year-old wife Lillian died in the house fire. A report is being prepared for the coroner.

*A Supreme Court jury has been empanelled in Sydney to hear the case against three people accused of murdering Wollongong lawyer Katie Foreman.

Bradley Max Rawlinson, Bernard Justin Spicer and Michelle Sharon Proud, from Eastern Creek, stand accused of murdering Ms Foreman by setting her Corrimal home on fire in 2011.

In a Darlinghurst courtroom yesterday, the trio formally entered not guilty pleas to a charge of murder.

7am Let's get an update on what's happening out there this morning.

WEATHER Another partly cloudy day, although it will be a bit hotter than earlier this week, reaching a possible maximum of 30 degrees in Wollongong. There will be scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms throughout the day, but those should clear by tonight. 

TRAFFIC It’s looking like a very clear run from Nowra to Sydney this morning. Don’t forget about the road works at Gerringong and Mount Ousley (at Picton Road).

TRAINS There is good service on the South Coast line

6.58am Are you a notorious procrastinator? Thinking about what to avoid at work even though it is not yet 7am? Here are some tips to get you working to, rather than past, a deadline. Number 7: Avoid meetings. Those things can be serious time suckers!

6.55am CELEB NEWS Rumour has it actress Michelle Rodriguez and model-of-the-moment Cara Delevingne are dating. The UK Mirror is reporting the pair have been seeing each other for six weeks.

6.52am NATIONAL NEWS It hasn't been a good year on our roads so far. NSW roads have claimed a life per day since January 1, a 50 per cent increase on the same period last year. Be careful out there, folks SMH

6.49am It’s World Chocolate Mint Day. Does that mean it’s okay to devour a packet of Mint Slices for morning tea? I think yes.

6.45am Flix in the Stix is on at Glennifer Brae on Friday, March 7. This is the first year the short film festival has come to Wollongong, and also includes performances by Eskimo Joe, Illawarra bands and comedy band The Axis of Awesome. Get your tickets at http://www.flixinthestix.com.au/

6.41am Is social media ruining the experience of travelling? This writer argues that we're losing the ability to immerse ourselves in the moment and appreciate a new city because we're too busy taking selfies to upload to Instagram or check in at the Eiffel Tower on Facebook.

6.39am LOCAL SPORT NEWS Josh Dugan has joined the likes of Ben Creagh, Dan Hunt, Brett Morris and Jason Nightingale as part of the Dragons' leadership group, a position few would have predicted this time last year.

His rise caps a remarkable turnaround after Dugan was sacked for a range of off-field incidents at Canberra last year before the Broncos withdrew a contract offer because of a social media rant.

6.36am J.K Rowling is preparing to release a second book under pseudonym Robert Galbraith.

A sequel to The Cuckoo's Calling,The Silkworm sees the return of detective Cormoran Strike.

Thoughts? As an avid Harry Potter fan I read J.K's first "adult" book The Casual Vacancy, but am yet to get into her thrillers.

6.33am Carnival might still be a few weeks away, but this pooch was getting into the spirit at a pre-Carnival party in Rio. Not sure my own dog would sit still long enough to be spray painted.

6.30am Today is the first day for Pisces babies. People celebrating their birth today share it with Seal (just one name, like Madonna), Copernicus and The Newsroom star Jeff Daniels.

6.28am LOCAL NEWS Vandals targeted Warrawong Public School last Friday night, smashing windows and damaging offices.

Lake Illawarra Police said the offenders entered the buildings by smashing ground-floor windows. No property was reported as stolen.

6.25am NATIONAL NEWS Australian Federal Polices yesterday raided the offices of Channel Seven's television network, and magazine business, as well as those of a Schapelle Corby's family lawyer, searching for evidence of a suspected seven-figure deal with the convicted drug smuggler. SMH

6.23am WEATHER The sun was out for just long enough yesterday afternoon for beachgoers to soak up some longed-for rays.

But the sunny reprieve won't last long. Showers and thunderstorms are expected today, and Sydney workers are being advised to leave work early to avoid the storms expected to hit this afternoon.

6.20am Don't forget, tomorrow is D-Day - the stack is coming down. Roads in the exclusion zone around the structure will be closed from 6am, including Wentworth Street and parts of Military Road, and won’t be re-opened until the "all clear" is given. Visit the RTA Live Traffic website for more info.

6.16am OLYMPIC NEWS 18-year-old speed skating prodigy Deanna Lockett has qualified for the 1000-metre short track finals, after a collision between the two race leaders allowed her to sneak into second and then power into first place in her heat. SMH

6.13am LOCAL SPORT NEWS Saturday is Pink Stumps Day, and Wollongong's cricketers decked out in the hue to support the Glenn McGrath Foundation.

The club hopes to raise $1500.

6.10am Let's take a look at national headlines, courtesy of the SMH

*Former federal MP Craig Thomson has been found him guilty of misusing thousands of dollars of union funds for a range of personal expenses, including sexual services.

Thomson has a four-week wait to hear whether he will be jailed for up to five years for his crimes while he was the national secretary of the Health Services Union between 2002 and 2007.

*A government inquiry is to be held into violent clashes on Manus Island that left one Iranian asylum seeker dead and scores of others severely injured.

Tensions escalted between asylum seekers, the security forces, the local police and PNG residents earlier this week, with up to 77 people injured.

*Former energy minister Chris Hartcher and central coast MPs Chris Spence and Darren Webber are set to be suspended from the Liberal Party after being named in two major corruption inquiries.

The decision was taken on Tuesday night after the O'Farrell government was dragged into the scandal surrounding the family of former Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid.

6.05am Here's what's making news in today's Mercury

*Staff at Wollongong's Gladstone Street Best Western Hotel face an uncertain future as an unnamed buyer prepares to snap up 44 of the complex's 55 units.

The hotel's previous owner, Invest Serviced Apartments, which contracted Best Western as the brand/hotel group, went into receivership in July 2009.

Since then, insolvency firm PPB Advisory has managed the property on behalf of Macquarie Bank. A PPB spokesman said while the buyer wanted to remain anonymous for now, he could confirm the building would continue to be run as a hotel.

*A 90-year-old man who jumped from a balcony to escape his burning Gerringong houseon Monday has died in hospital.

Eric Wagstaff was taken to Royal North Shore Hospital suffering from serious burns, but died yesterday afternoon.

His 88-year-old wife Lillian died in the house fire. A report is being prepared for the coroner.

*A Supreme Court jury has been empanelled in Sydney to hear the case against three people accused of murdering Wollongong lawyer Katie Foreman.

Bradley Max Rawlinson, Bernard Justin Spicer and Michelle Sharon Proud, from Eastern Creek, stand accused of murdering Ms Foreman by setting her Corrimal home on fire in 2011.

In a Darlinghurst courtroom yesterday, the trio formally entered not guilty pleas to a charge of murder.

6.02am Let’s take a look at the weather, trains and traffic

WEATHER Another partly cloudy day, although it will be a bit hotter than earlier this week, reaching a possible maximum of 30 degrees in Wollongong. There will be scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms throughout the day, but those should clear by tonight. 

TRAFFIC It’s looking like a very clear run from Nowra to Sydney this morning. Don’t forget about the road works at Gerringong and Mount Ousley (at Picton Road).

TRAINS There is good service on the South Coast line

6am Good morning! Kate Walsh is joining you today for the hump day edition of the Rush.

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