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

8.03am That's it for Morning Rush today - stay with us for Morning Blast. We're live blogging all the action from the Port Kembla Stack demolition this morning. Send us your pics and tweets to #stackdemo

8am  Here's this morning's weather, trains and traffic.

WEATHER Finally, a sunny day! We’re looking at top temps in the mid to high 20s across the region and a moderate breeze throughout the day.

TRAFFIC It’s looking good on the roads this morning, just remember those roadworks at Gerringong and on Mount Ousley at Picton Road. There are road closures from 6am around Port Kembla in preparation for the stack demolition. Closures include Wentworth Street, parts of Military Road, parts of Darcy Road and parts of Church Street. They won’t be re-opened until the "all clear" is given. Visit the RTA Live Traffic website for more info.

TRAINS There is good service on the South Coast Line.

7.58am Come and support the best up-and-coming comedians in the region tonight as they take part in Australia’s biggest, most prestigious open mic comedy competition. 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.

7.55am PK STACK All homes in the exclusion zone around the stack will have been visited by 8am. The exlcusion zone will also be closed to exiting vehicles in the next five minutes.

7.51am PK STACK The Port Kembla Men's Group would like to see pieces of the demolished stack sold as souvenirs to people with a soft spot for the mighty chimney.

Like a less well-known Berlin Wall, the rubble could hold pride of place on the mantles of Port Kembla and beyond, to be talked over and even handed down to generations, said the group's Peter Martire.

7.49am TIARA ALERT Incoming Governor General Peter Cosgrove may have let slip Prince George will be accompanying Kate and Wills on their trip down under. When pressed on whether George was definitely joining them, he said he didn't know, as he was not yet Govenor General. SBS NEWS

7.47am PK STACK From reporter Dominic Geiger, who is at the stack this morning: Wollongong Police superintendent Kyle Stewart, who is in charge of the operation, has just addressed the media. He said the evacuation was "all but complete." He could not comment on the exact number of people inside the exclusion zone. He was not aware of anyone who had attempted to breach the exclusion zone, despite reports one man had tried to jump a fence last night.

Spt Stewart urged anyone preparing to protest that any breach of the exclusion zone could result in them being charged with a criminal offence.

Meanwhile, a group of local residents have set up chairs and tables and are eating breakfast underneath the shadow of the stack. Resident Reg McFarlane said the stack was an icon. 

"It's a symbol of the region's industrial heart," he said.

"The stack can be seen from anywhere in the Gong - it's the Opera House of Wollongong".

7.45am The Morning Rush is going to finish a little earlier that normal today, but don't despair. From 8am onwards we'll be bringing you the Morning Blast, keeping you up to date with what's happening around the Port Kembla stack. We have a team of Mercury journos and photographers at the stack this morning, so if you see them, make sure to say hi.

7.42am 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/

7.39am CELEB NEWS The younger Kardashian sisters - Kylie and Kendall Jenner - are set to launch a book this year. Called Rebels: City of Indra, the novel  is about two super-powered girls, Lex and Livia, who embark on a journey together. HUFFPOST

7.36am LOCAL NEWS The Illawarra's Telstra office is set to close, costing 10 people their jobs. The action is part of a broader move by Telstra to cut 800 jobs across Australia.

7.33am TRAFFIC ALERT An earlier breakdown on Bulli Pass has been cleared and traffic is flowing again.

7.31am WEIRD AND WACKY A Utah mother upset about "indecent" tee shirts at a regional mall went and bought all the offending items to ensure no kids could get their hands on them. The shirts featured pictures of scantily dressed models in provocative poses. SMH

7.28am PK STACK Police are doorknocking homes in the exclusion zone, asking residents to depart in preparation for the demolition.

7.25am LOCAL NEWS To continue the cute animals love, Penfold the Penguin was found wandering on an Ulladulla beach last week by Australian Seabirds Rescue South Coast. He's now being looked after by a volunteer while he finishes his moult. Check out the gallery of this adorable little guy here

7.21am Cute animal time - this pup is completely blissed out

7.18am PK STACK Reporter Dominic Geiger says the closest point to view the stack demolition is already drawing a crowd. 

7.15am TRAFFIC ALERT A car has broken down on Bulli Pass near Bulli Pass Road, affecting northbound traffic. Motorists should slow down and exercise caution.

7.12am ENTERTAINMENT NEWS I can't believe I am saying this, but I really want to watch The Real Housewives of Melbourne when it starts this weekend. It looks amazingly trashy. Apparently the ladies, led by housewife and criminal barrister Gina Liano demanded changes to the contract the other Housewives stars around the world adhere to - namely they were not to get physically hurt.

7.09am The Morning Rush is going to finish a little earlier that normal today, but don't despair. From 8.30am onwards we'll be bringing you the Morning Blast, keeping you up-to-date with what's happening around the Port Kembla stack. We have journos and photographers out in the field this morning, so if you see them, make sure to say hi!

7.06am Time for a squiz at Thursday’s national headlines, courtesy of the SMH

*Papua New Guinea locals employed by security guards at the Manus Island detention centre attacked asylum seekers with machetes, knives and rocks, an interpreter employed by the Australian Immigration Department has claimed.

Azita Bokan alleges she saw asylum seekers suffer ''massive head injuries'' when locals entered the centre after detainees had pushed down a fence within the centre on Monday night.

*Schapelle Corby's brother-in-law has met with Indonesian authorities in a bid to strike a deal and allow for a paid interview between the convicted drug smuggler and Channel Seven to go ahead.

The offices of Channel Seven’s television network and magazine arm were raided by the Australian Federal Police on Tuesday, with police looking for documents relating to possible payments Ms Corby or her family may have received for her story.

*A 75-year-old Australian man has been detained in North Korea for distributing religious materials.John Short, a veteran Christian missionary who has been working in Asia for 50 years, was caught with religious pamphlets which had been translated into Korean. He has not been allowed to leave since police started questioning him on Sunday.

7.03am Let’s take a look at the top news in Thursday’s Mercury

*The Port Kembla stack is coming down this morning, with final preparations for the demolition underway. Exclusions zone evacuations begin early this morning, with the  demolition occurring between 8.45am and 11am depending on safety checks. Check out our guide to the nuts and bolts of the felling here.

*Wollongong City Council has released its long-awaited cultural plan for public exhibition this week. Among the papers are recommendations for developing a dedicated facility for music festivals, making it easier and cheaper for council facilities to be hired for public performances and developing a creative arts "hub" in the basement of Wollongong Town Hall.

*Shellharbour City councillor Kellie Marsh will move a no confidence motion in her former Liberal colleague Deputy Mayor Paul Rankin will continue at next week's council meeting.

Cr Marsh said it was not a decision she had taken lightly and was based on "a number of incidents", but the "icing on the cake" was a recent public meeting, where Cr Rankin "threatened" his former running mate Harry Gooden during a debate.

7am Here's this morning's weather, trains and traffic.

WEATHER Finally, a sunny day! We’re looking at top temps of about 24 degrees across the region and a moderate breeze throughout the day.

TRAFFIC It’s looking good on the roads this morning, just remember those roadworks at Gerringong and on Mount Ousley at Picton Road. There are road closures from 6am around Port Kembla in preparation for the stack demolition. Closures include Wentworth Street, parts of Military Road, parts of Darcy Road and parts of Church Street. They won’t be re-opened until the "all clear" is given. Visit the RTA Live Traffic website for more info.

TRAINS There is good service on the South Coast Line.

6.57am LOCAL SPORT NEWS Organisers have not given up hope of nudging capacity at WIN Stadium after the Dragons and Rabbitohs pledged to bring full-strength sides for the first Charity Shield match outside Sydney.

 Early ticket sale figures for the traditional preseason clash have officials forecasting a crowd more than 15,000.

The match takes place this weekend, so get along and support the Dragons.

6.53am OLYMPIC NEWS Congrats ladies! It always amazes me how much seconds matter in sport

6.50am Sunday will be a paradise for hungry bellies and a nightmare for dieters as Towradgi Beach Hotel is taken over by its annual Beer, Food and Wine Festival.

More than 75 retailers from the Illawarra, across Australia and around the world will be at the car park and beer garden of the Towradgi hotel, showing off a variety of tastes and treats.

6.46am The Mercury’s sport journos will be launching some new columns this year. Watch out for some great new content

6.43am PK STACK The Mercury team is out and about early this morning. Photographer Andy Zakeli took this shot as the last sunrise rose over the stack this morning.

6.39am Preparing breakfast? Move past the porridge and plain pancakes and use some different grains like quinoa or buckwheat in your morning feast. Check out this guide to alternative grains from Good Food.

6.35am OLYMPIC NEWS Russian husband and wife Vic Wild and Alena Zavarzina both won medals in their snowboarding parallel giant slalom events on Wednesday. Wild took gold, while Zavarzina won bronze.

6.32am NATIONAL NEWS A Sydney woman arrested in Bali when drugs were allegedly found at her villa may have been dealing, police say.

Police reportedly found MDMA, marijuana and hashish at a villa in North Kuta where Leeza Tracey Ormsby, 37, was staying. SMH

6.29am Happy Birthday to everyone celebrating today. You have the same b-day as Rihanna, Cindy Crawford and David Beckham’s son Cruz.

6.25am Show Rufus and Fluffy an extra big cuddle this morning - it’s World Love Your Pet Day. This totally justifies spending money on an costume to dress your pooch up in

6.22am LOCAL NEWS A group of Jamberoo residents has been angered by comments their township is "dying" and can only be saved by a new development on its outskirts.

Kiama councillors last week gave the green light to a rezoning that could allow 62 new homes to be developed off Wyalla Road.

Some councillors have argued the new development would save Jamberoo, pointing to a decline in numbers at the school, struggling businesses and lack of a doctor and petrol station, but residents rejeceted the suggestion.

6.19am NATIONAL NEWS One of the most wanted men in NSW has been extradited from Western Australia and charged over the stabbing death of a man in Sydney’s west. The 23-year-old victim died after being stabbed at a home in Auburn on February 3, police said. An arrest warrant was issued for the alleged offender and Western Australian Police arrested the 23-year-old in Perth last Friday. He was charged with murder and refused bail to appear in Burwood Local Court on Thursday. AAP

6.16am LOCAL SPORT NEWS Check out Tim Keeble's latest Hoopla video for the latest news on-court action from the Wollongong Hawks and across the league.

6.13am PK STACK Here's the full list of road closures for this morning in Port Kembla:

- Darcy Road between the intersection of Old Port Road and the Darcy Road PKC entrance 

- Military Road between Old Port Road and First Avenue

- Wentworth Street east of number 164

·      Wentworth Lane near the intersection of Church Street

- Allan Street north of Wentworth Street 

- Fitzwilliam Street north of Wentworth Lane 

- Church Street north of Wentworth Lane 

- Military Lane north of number 17

- Third Avenue north of number 16 

- Second Avenue north of number 6 

- Reservoir Street north of number 17 

- Marne Street north of number 7 

- Electrolytic Street

- Reservoir Street Third Avenue Church Street

The roads won't be reopened until the "all clear" is given after the demolition.

6.10am PK STACK Cars are no longer allowed to enter the exclusion zone around the stack in preparation for the demolition. People can still exit, but no now vehicles are allowed in. Police will begin door knocking homes in the zone at 7.30am.

6.07am Time for a squiz at Thursday’s national headlines, courtesy of the SMH

*Papua New Guinea locals employed by security guards at the Manus Island detention centre attacked asylum seekers with machetes, knives and rocks, an interpreter employed by the Australian Immigration Department has claimed.

Azita Bokan alleges she saw asylum seekers suffer ''massive head injuries'' when locals entered the centre after detainees had pushed down a fence within the centre on Monday night.

*Schapelle Corby's brother-in-law has met with Indonesian authorities in a bid to strike a deal and allow for a paid interview between the convicted drug smuggler and Channel Seven to go ahead.

The offices of Channel Seven’s television network and magazine arm were raided by the Australian Federal Police on Tuesday, with police looking for documents relating to possible payments Ms Corby or her family may have received for her story.

*A 75-year-old Australian man has been detained in North Korea for distributing religious materials.John Short, a veteran Christian missionary who has been working in Asia for 50 years, was caught with religious pamphlets which had been translated into Korean. He has not been allowed to leave since police started questioning him on Sunday.

6.04am Let’s take a look at the top news in Thursday’s Mercury

*The Port Kembla stack is coming down this morning, with final preparations for the demolition underway. Exclusions zone evacuations begin early this morning, with the  demolition occurring between 8.45am and 11am depending on safety checks. Check out our guide to the nuts and bolts of the felling here.

*Wollongong City Council has released its long-awaited cultural plan for public exhibition this week. Among the papers are recommendations for developing a dedicated facility for music festivals, making it easier and cheaper for council facilities to be hired for public performances and developing a creative arts "hub" in the basement of Wollongong Town Hall.

*Shellharbour City councillor Kellie Marsh will move a no confidence motion in her former Liberal colleague Deputy Mayor Paul Rankin will continue at next week's council meeting.

Cr Marsh said it was not a decision she had taken lightly and was based on "a number of incidents", but the "icing on the cake" was a recent public meeting, where Cr Rankin "threatened" his former running mate Harry Gooden during a debate.

6.02am Here's this morning's weather, trains and traffic.

WEATHER Finally, a sunny day! We’re looking at top temps of about 24 degrees across the region and a moderate breeze throughout the day.

TRAFFIC It’s looking good on the roads this morning, just remember those roadworks at Gerringong and on Mount Ousley at Picton Road. There are road closures from 6am around Port Kembla in preparation for the stack demolition. Closures include Wentworth Street, parts of Military Road, parts of Darcy Road and parts of Church Street. They won’t be re-opened until the "all clear" is given. Visit the RTA Live Traffic website for more info.

TRAINS There is good service on the South Coast Line.

6am Good morning and welcome to the Rush. Today's the day the Port Kembla stack is coming down - we'll keep you updated all morning.

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