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

9.01am Well that's it from us for another morning. Thanks for joining. Hope to see you back again tomorrow, from 6am. 

8.59am "The fun-loving, charismatic grandmother has graced the stage and small screen for decades, and is remembered by many for her long-running role as Madge the manicurist on a Palmolive liquid detergent ad," writes Lisa Wachsmuth of Corrimal actor Robina Beard, whose latest role is as a NSW Seniors Week ambassador. bit.ly/1dqza8r

8.55am A one-month-old baby who was on life support after he was allegedly assaulted in Bunbury, WA, last week by his 15-year-old father, has died in hospital. The teen has been charged with causing aggravated grievous bodily harm.

8.50am Reviews for Aya, the second independent release from Cronulla gypsy-ska-surf rockers Caravana Sun: "Chilled but never laconic, fun but never disposable, infectious but never overbearing" 4/5 - The Music "Where are we? Spain? Greece? Mexico? Who cares. Let’s dance!" - BAY FM, Byron Bay. They're at Beach Bar, March 14. 

8.42am 

8.35am They're awaiting O-Week newbies in UOW's social science faculty.

8.30am INTERNATIONAL NEWS "She bullied her way through life," said Sandra Parriott, a lifelong resident of Cedarville and owner of two downtown markets. "But I would never think she would start blowing people away in a meeting." Cherie Lash Rhoades is accused of turning a gun on her neighbours, shotting four dead, during a meeting on whether to evict her from a nine-house rancheria - SMH

8.23am Police are appealing for assistance after an 18-year-old woman was assaulted at Heathcote on Sunday. The woman stopped at reserve near Copeland St to help a young boy who told her he needed assistance, at about 1.15pm. The woman has told police she was then pushed to the ground by two men, who she managed to fight off, before running away. The first man is described as 20-25 years of age, with a large build, tanned skin and a black/red beard. He wore a dark cap, red t-shirt, dark jeans and dark blue sneakers. The second man was aged in his thirties, with a very thin build and tanned skin. He wore a dark-coloured t-shirt and green cargo shorts. Police are also keen to speak to anyone saw two men in the company of an 8-10 year old boy in the area at the time. Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000

8.19am Northern Illawarra comedian Ben French (of S--- You'll Never Hear In Wollongong fame) has appeared in another hilarious online vid. This one's an O-Week release, called S--- Australian Uni Students Say. Language warning, obviously.

8.11am Spotted at Thirroul train station - the Opal card reader has arrived.  

8.06am Shellharbour Councillor Peter Moran wants to see a phone survey carried out by a polling company to provide council with an accurate gauge of opinion towards the controversial City Hub project. Story here - bit.ly/1hj2fa6

8am Good morning, newcomers. A quick update: 

TRAINS There is good service on the South Coast line. Buses replace trains between Bondi Junction and Central, if you're headed that way. 

ROADS All is clear on Illawarra roads. Scheduled works are happening on Mount Ousley Rd at the Picton Road northbound on-ramp. Light vehicles travelling north on Mount Ousley road will be detoured via Mount Keira Rd and Clive Bissel Dr. Heavy vehicles will need to use the Hume Hwy or Appin Rd.

WEATHER We're in for a mostly sunny day with a maximum of 25. It's 17 in Albion Park, 22 in Bellambi and 21 in Albion Park. 

7.54am Are you a subscriber to the Mercury's Digital Edition? Sign on this week and get a free Lagoon Seafood Restaurant Voucher (plus you'll go in the draw to win a romance package at the Hilton Sydney Hotel). Costs three clams a week (and the voucher is for 50 clams!). Details are here - bit.ly/1cIHvHz

7.49am Giant mango stolen in Queensland. Clive Palmer named (on Twitter) as person of interest.

7.44am From our classifieds: GINGER CAT, Female, pale in colour. Lost in Woonona last Wednesday 5th Feb. Reward. Ph 0424 599 083

7.39am Grant Denyer has denied claims he has a serious drug problem. He and his wife are considering legal action against a women's mag, which claimed they attended a Thai facility to receive treated for methamphetamine addiction.

7.34am The poor Illawarra Stormchasers have been a bit bored by the recent sunshiney weather. They wrote yesterday: "The anniversary of the Kiama and Shoalhaven tornadoes will be marked by weather that would be flat out generating a storm in a bathtub." 

7.28am ABC Fact Check has disproved Liberal MP Kelly O'Dwyer's claim that Australia has one of the highest per capita refugee intakes in the world. The analysis found Australia ranked 22nd in the world on a per capita basis. 

7.24am ... not all are pleased. 

7.20am A promotion for Cardinal George Pell.

7.16am BlueScope Steel has achieved a half-year profit for the first time in five years, but its Australian operations continue to lose money - bit.ly/OuytFY

7.11am  ... but we'll always have the Bum Tree Song - by the Nowra Ukulele Movement. They sing: "Take a stand for the land, and be the trigger/ That stops my rear end landing in the chipper." Check it out here (WARNING: very catchy). 

7.07am The end is nigh for the beloved Gerroa Rd bum tree.

7am Good morning Illawarra. If you're just joining us, an update: 

TRAINS There is good service on the South Coast line. Buses replace trains between Bondi Junction and Central, if you're headed that way. 

ROADS All is clear on Illawarra roads. Scheduled works are happening on Mount Ousley Rd at the Picton Road northbound on-ramp. Light vehicles travelling north on Mount Ousley road will be detoured via Mount Keira Rd and Clive Bissel Dr. Heavy vehicles will need to use the Hume Hwy or Appin Rd.

WEATHER We're in for a mostly sunny day with a maximum of 25. It's 15 in Albion Park, 21 in Bellambi and 19 in Albion Park. 

6.57am Happy O-Week to all our uni students out there. The team behind UOW's student newspaper, The Tertangala, will begin fortnightly meetings from today, for any budding journos wanting to make their mark. 

6.52am Vodafone is said to be feeling the effects of a customer backlash, losing more than one million customers in 2013. The Telco's total customer base declined 1,231,000 to just over 5.3 million  - SMH

6.47am Charlotte Dawson's former husband Scott Miller has been ''deeply shocked and saddened'' by her death, his spokesman said. Dawson's death came as a ''real shock to him, he was genuinely upset, even though they had not been in contact for some period of time'' - SMH

6.42am "During another conversation between the pair, Mrs Coulthard said Evans told her: "Katie f---ed with the wrong family. Every dog has its day." Shannon Tonkin has the latest from the Katie Foreman trialbit.ly/1hqpAFA

6.37am The 50 Shades of Grey film poster is out and it's rather, um, grey. There are 355 days until the movie will hit cinemas, causing it to flood with excitable lasses. This is going to get embarrassing. 

6.32am SPORT NEWS: St George Illawarra fullback Josh Dugan joins a long list of NRL stars set to miss the opening four rounds after a preseason marred by high-profile injuries - bit.ly/1pkJ8Ra

6.28am Celeb crime writer/journalist Tara Moss has used Facebook to tell the inside story of "what happened on Manus Island", based on the account of one of her long standing crime research contacts, who claims to have tried to save the life of slain asylum seeker Reza Berati.

6.23am Have you seen the new interiors at Wollongong fine dining haunt Caveau? Very. Fancy. There's a gallery here:bit.ly/1fj2OvZ

6.18am CELEB GOSS: Aussie Avatar actor Sam Worthington has been arrested for punching a photographer, but only after the snapper kicked his lady, Lara Bingle. news.com reports Worthington said "he kicked my wife", and that they therefore must have married in secret!

6.15am Looks like they got things over and done with preeetty quickly last night at Wollongong Council. That doesn't sound right at all.

6.10am ... and in national news

* Arborists are calling for the state’s public schools to actively inspect the health of trees on their properties, after an eight-year-old girl was killed by a falling branch on Friday - SMH

*  Television star Robert Hughes’ lawyer has told a Sydney court that being tried for sexually and indecently assaulting young girls is the ‘‘worst nightmare’’- SMH

The new operators of Manus Island detention centre will continue to use local security staff even though they are implicated in last week’s deadly clashes with asylum-seekers - SMH

Scott Morrison has hit back at calls for his resignation over his handling of the Manus Island detention centre death, turning the attack back on Labor over the Nauru detention centre fire - The Australian

6.04am Let's see what's making news locally.

* Wollongong residents could soon be forced to travel to Sydney to get a marriage licence or a copy of their birth certificate, with the Wollongong Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM) office slated to shut on March 28.

The closure would force its five full-time staff to take up positions within the department's Chippendale operation.

* The Illawarra has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the state, second only to the Parramatta area, according to a new analysis. bit.ly/1bGmEXb

* Deaf students have complained their access to essential note-takers has been scrapped as a cost-cutting measure by Illawarra TAFE. Details here - bit.ly/1eqduZv

* Sickening footage of a man breaking a pool cue over the head of a patron at an Oak Flats pub  - knocking him out cold - was played in Wollongong Local Court on Monday.

6.02am 

TRAINS There is good service on the South Coast line. Buses replace trains between Bondi Junction and Central, if you're headed that way. 

ROADS All is clear on Illawarra roads

WEATHER We're in for a mostly sunny day with a maximum of 25. It's 15 in Albion Park, 21 in Bellambi and 19 in Albion Park. 

6am Good morning Illawarra. It's Tuesday, February 25. Rise and shine!

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