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

9am Ok, let's have a quick look at trains, traffic and weather and that'll be Morning Rush over for another day.

TRAINS: There are some delays on the Southern Highlands line, with those travelling on the Campbelltown to Moss Vale train on the Southern Highlands Line should allow an additional 35 minutes travel time due to the train requiring mechanical repairs at Campbelltown.

TRAFFIC: Looks all clear around the Illawarra and southern Sydney.

WEATHER: Still rainy and about 19 degrees.

Enjoy your day!

8.55am LOCAL NEWS

The roll-out of beach wheelchairs continues across the Illawarra with a new Sandcruiser chair now available for public use at Shellharbour Village.

8.51am A new study says 50 per cent of 14-17 year olds are choosing not to drink alcohol.

8.47am LOCAL NEWS

Today's front page yarn, from Dom Geiger:

An Illawarra property developer has been accused of failing to pay several contractors who worked on his housing projects in Bellambi and Wollongong.

Several irate contractors contacted the Mercury, revealing they had been left in the lurch to the tune of about $150,000.

Two contractors have since launched civil action against the developer, StromCorp, headed by Michael Strom.

8.45am LATEST NSW POLICE NEWS

* A woman has been able to fight-off a stranger who grabbed her inside a unit block near North Sydney last night. About 6.15pm (Wednesday 9 April), the 46-year-old woman was walking home along Blues Street in McMahons Point when she noticed a man following her.

* A man has been charged with murder following the death of his wife at Auburn, in Sydney’s south west. Emergency services were called to Rawson Street just before midnight on Tuesday 8 April 2014, where they found a woman with multiple stab wounds.

* Strike force detectives have charged a second person following an investigation into the alleged supply of drugs in the state’s far west. In December 2012, detectives from Barrier Local Area Command formed Strike Force Ipel to investigate drug supply in Broken Hill.

* Police are appealing for public assistance after a teenager was approached by a man on the state’s mid north coast. About 6pm yesterday (Tuesday 8 April 2014), the 15-year-old girl was walking along Macwood Road at Smiths Lake when a vehicle stopped near her.

8.40am SPORT NEWS

Test match action will return to Wollongong later this year with WIN Stadium in line to host World Cup winners Australia in the end-of-season Four Nations tournament.

The Mercury understands the city's premier sporting venue will be unveiled as a host stadium when the Four Nations tournament is officially launched in Brisbane on Wednesday.

Australia will meet the Pacific Islands representatives - either Fiji or Samoa - with the last remaining side to join the Kangaroos, New Zealand and England in the tournament.

The match will be played on the weekend of November 8-9.

8.35am Crown Street Mall retailers have been struggling in recent weeks as the council's upgrade wears on, but look what's happening on Oxford Street in Sydney:

The SMH reports:

Oxford Street landlords are receiving 30 per cent of the rental prices today that they commanded in 2008, while 89 shops on the street are vacant, for lease or closing.

Locals say the strip is in desperate need of help but, with no united voice or leadership strategy along its 4.3-kilometre length from Whitlam Square to Bondi Junction, it is in danger of declining further.

8.28am Can you spot what's wrong?

8.25am The Easter long weekend is just over a week away (woohoo!) but the Easter Show starts today.

8.22am Q: Why did the frozen chickens cross the road?

A: Because the B-double truck carrying them rolled over in wet weather on a Victorian highway.

A large truck rolled over on the Western Highway near Middle Creek, west of Ballarat, about 5am on Thursday, spilling frozen chickens across the road.

No one was injured and police have diverted traffic while the crash - and the chickens - are cleared up.

- AAP

8.18am Could be time to change your passwords.

8.15am LOCAL NEWS

Here are a few of the stories in today's Illawarra Mercury:

Therapies to prevent or treat age-related diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's are one step closer thanks to a new discovery involving scientists from the University of Wollongong.

* A 32-year-old man riding an unregistered trail bike led police on a pursuit through Wollongong’s northern suburbs on Tuesday night.

* Two Illawarra housing agencies have merged to ensure their long-term survival despite an uncertain funding future. As part of Youth Homelessness Day on Wednesday, Southern Youth and Family Services (SYFS) and Illawarra Youth Housing (IYH) announced that they would now operate jointly under the SYFS banner.

8.10am We've had cute animals, crap dead animals and now for multifaceted animals: Morning Rush, covering all your animal needs.

8.05am WEATHER

A bit cool and wet out there today - it's actually colder now than at 6am. 

Just 19.7 degrees in Bellambi, 18 in Albion Park and 18.5 in Kiama. Time for a light jacket and a brolly if you're walking to work.

8.01am TRAFFIC UPDATE

7.55am If today is your birthday, you share the date with veteran Lawrence of Arabia actor Omar Sharif - who will be 82 today - and action man Steven Seagal, who is 62, as well as Mandy Moore, who will probably be serenaded "Happy 30th Birthday" by her hubby Ryan Adams (lucky, lucky girl).

7.50am SPORT

7.48am ANZAC DAY

The 99th anniversary of the Anzac Cove landing is still a few weeks away, but there are lots of commemorative events happening in the lead-up.

Check out Wollongong City Council's service information.

And Kate Walsh reports on the school's service held on Wednesday (don't miss the gallery of pics too):

As Anzac Day falls within the school holidays, primary and secondary students from across Wollongong gathered to commemorate the anniversary with a ceremony at the city's cenotaph in MacCabe Park.

Several spoke eloquently about what Anzac Day meant to them and shared stories of their relatives who had fought in various conflicts.

7.45am LOCAL NEWS

Here are some of the top stories in today's Mercury:

* "Outrageous", "disgraceful" and "disgusting" are some of the stinging rebukes Illawarra MPs have levelled over the last-minute cancellation of a Senate inquiry into TAFE in Wollongong on Tuesday.

* More than a decade of frustration over the cost to ratepayers of The Links, Shell Cove golf course spilled onto the floor of Shellharbour City Council during a heated debate on Tuesday night.

* An Illawarra property developer has been accused of failing to pay several contractors who worked on his housing projects in Bellambi and Wollongong.

7.38am

No cute animals here. I only just discovered the Twitter account Crap Taxidermy last night and it is hilarious and hideous all at once.

If you're reading this on public transport be prepared for your fellow commuters to give you weird looks as you giggle to yourself.

7.34am TRAFFIC UPDATE

7.30am It's a little early for chocolate and beer right now, but this dinner at the Little Prince sounds delish.

7.25am Up to 20 students are reportedly injured and four are critical after a US high school stabbing. But for some there's always time for a selfie.

7.20am We haven't had a cute animal post this morning! Better put one up quickly or we'll break the internet.

This one is weird and adorable all at once - what sort of dog makes this noise??

7.15AM LOCAL SPORT

The St George Illawarra Dragons will play Melbourne Storm in Melbourne on Monday.

Adam Pengilly has the latest on the Illawarra team:

* Gareth Widdop hopes there will a hearty reception. Knows there will probably a few boos too. But as son Brayden is testament to, old habits die hard.

‘‘I’m not sure who my young fella is going to support because he keeps going on ‘I want to play for the Storm’,’’ joked Widdop, days out from his highly-anticipated return to Melbourne. ‘‘We might have to zip his mouth together.’

Michael Witt, returning to Melbourne for the first time since helping orchestrate finals history with the Warriors, has pledged to put an end to St George Illawarra’s halfback merry-go-round.

Set to be thrust back into the halves to act as Gareth Widdop’s foil for his Melbourne homecoming, Witt’s return in the No 7 will mean the Dragons have come full circle since round one.

7.10am PISTORIUS TRIAL

Pretoria: Oscar Pistorius’ declaration that his own “life is on the line” backfired badly on Tuesday, with the state’s chief prosecutor retorting: “Reeva doesn’t have a life any more ... now answer the questions and give us the truth.”

In a blistering start to his cross examination, prosecutor Gerrie Nel wasted no time in putting the Olympic athlete on the back foot, demanding he accept responsibility for his actions on the morning of Valentine’s Day 2013.

You shot and killed her ... Say it: ‘I shot and killed Reeva Steenkamp’

7.05am Minister for the Illawarra John Ajaka will be in Wollongong (which is very firmly part of the Illawarra, no doubt about that) today, using a shiny shovel to dig the first soil for the University of Wollongong's Accelerate building.

To be built at the Innovation Campus, the three-storey building will be the region’s first high-tech business ‘hub’ which is being funded as part of the $100 million Restart Illawarra Fund.

7.03am HEALTH NEWS

Wow - this is wonderful news from UOW - about a breakthrough in the prevention and treatment of age-related diseases.

Lisa Wachsmuth reports:

Therapies to prevent or treat age-related diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's are one step closer thanks to a new discovery involving scientists from the University of Wollongong.

Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute scientists have collaborated with researchers from the University of Oxford in the UK on a study that was published in a prestigious scientific journal on Tuesday.

Lead co-author of the study, UOW Associate Professor Heath Ecroyd, said the research represented a "significant finding in the worldwide race" to find new drugs to treat diseases of ageing.

7am Sorry for the slight delay in the Morning Rush feed just now, my computer just can't keep up!

It's 7 o'clock - time to do a quick whip-around of the trains, traffic and weather again.

TRAINS Good service on all lines

TRAFFIC Illawarra roads looking good, but if you're heading Sydney watch out for a snarl after an accident at Heathcote Road. One of the two eastbound lanes is closed and emergency services are attending.

WEATHER A slight update to the forecast top temp - BOM now says it'll get to 21, instead of 20 degrees. And there's quite a bit of light rain heading our way according to the radar.

6.43am ROYAL NEWS

Prince George's first visit to Australia is being reported on everywhere, but there have been some mixed views about his role in modern day Oz, and even his princely behaviour - apparently Georgie made a girl cry when he took her toys yesterday.

6.40am BREAKING NEWS

6.36am BOUNDARY LINES

I don't know about you, but I'm getting more and more confused about where exactly the Illawarra is. Here at the Merc, we generally see our region as being from Helensburgh to Gerringong, although we do keep a close eye on things happening in the highlands and further down the coast too.

But the government has so many different definitions for the boundary lines! Take the Illawarra rail line for instance - it stops at Waterfall, where it changes to be the South Coast line.

Yesterday - to make it just that little more confusing - the Minister for the Illawarra visited Nowra to launch a website for the Illawarra. Here's the story.

6.29am BREAKING NEWS

Murrysville, Pennsylvania: A 16-year-old armed with two knives went on a stabbing and slashing spree at a high school near Pittsburgh on Wednesday, leaving as many as 20 people injured, including a school police officer who eventually subdued the boy with the help of an assistant principal, police said.

6.25am NATIONAL NEWS

Here are some of the top stories from the Sydney Morning Herald today.

Bob Carr's Diary of a Foreign Minister is causing a ruckus, as it has detailed Kevin Rudd’s reputation for explosive outbursts among the world’s foreign policy elite and the widespread dislike of him in the Labor Party.

Mr Carr’s  also reveals how he told Mr Rudd’s prime ministerial rival, Julia Gillard, to step down from the leadership to save her own reputation.

* Sarah Monahan, the former co-star of Hey Dad! who was among Robert Hughes' child sex abuse victims, said she would not pursue civil action against Channel Seven, but hopes the television network apologises publicly.

* A Black Hawk helicopter has made a forced landing north-west of Sydney after sending out a distress call just after 7pm on Wednesday.

The helicopter, believed to be from the Richmond RAAF base, sent out a pan-pan alert just before it landed in a field at Wisemans Ferry.

6.18am Also in the paper today, Josh Bulter reports on the fall out over the cancelled TAFE inquiry:

"Outrageous", "disgraceful" and "disgusting" are some of the stinging rebukes Illawarra MPs have levelled over the last-minute cancellation of a Senate inquiry into TAFE in Wollongong on Tuesday.

The hearing had to be cancelled because not one Coalition senator could attend.

Greens senator Lee Rhiannon still met concerned local TAFE teachers and students, but the region's MPs were furious the formal inquiry session was cancelled.

"It's absolutely outrageous the Liberal government would not allocate someone to meet with a region so heavily reliant on TAFE," - Member for Keira and NSW opposition spokesman for education and training, Ryan Park.

6.15am LOCAL NEWS

In today's Mercury, Dom Geiger presents an investigation into Illawarra property developer StromCorp:

The company has been accused of failing to pay several contractors who worked on housing projects in Bellambi and Wollongong.

Several irate contractors contacted the Mercury, revealing they had been left in the lurch to the tune of about $150,000.

6.11am

WEATHER: Looks like it will be a little on the cool side today, with a forecast top of just 20 degrees. Although, according to the Bureau of Meteorology, it's already 20.7 in Bellambi. 

It's 17.7 degrees in Albion Park and 18.9 degrees in Kiama.

Looking a little cloudy here in Wollongong, with a forecast for 'rain at times' - so pack an umbrella today.

6.09am TRAFFIC: And the same goes for the roads today, all clear by the looks of it.

6.05am TRAINS: The problems that caused huge delays for commuters seem to have been fixed up this morning, with good service on all lines, according to Sydney Trains.

6am Good morning all and welcome to Thursday's edition of Morning Rush.

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