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

9.03am That's it from us this morning. Thanks for joining us. Hope to see you again tomorrow, from 6am. 

9am Yet another life claimed by a motorbike accident. 

8.56am It's back to the drawing board for the Dragons after the side's disappointing 38-20 loss to South Sydney in Saturday’s Charity Shield clash, says coach Steve Price. Mitch Jennings has the details here:

8.50am "And it ended, as all journeys of optimistic wistfulness tend to end, with a giant robot bear blowing out the Olympic flame," writes SMH Europe correspondent Nick Miller of the Sochi Winter Olympics closing ceremony. Other highlights included a choreographed dance of 62 grand pianos to a live Rachmaninov performance, a tornado of paper in a sequence honouring Russian writers such as Tolstoy and Chekov, and a 190-person circus troupe beside an impromptu big top.

8.42am To the comments section visitor who suggested a rooftop bar for the North Beach Novotel (which has just changed hands and will undergo a few changes), I salute you. 

8.37am The latest class from Illawarra skill-sharing enterprise Wild Rumpus will teach green thumbed-types how to raise seedlings for Winter

8.28am A powerful photo from last night's Light the Dark candlelight vigil in Sydney, held to draw attention to the treatment of asylum seekers in Australia's care. Vigils were held in all the capitals. 

8.24am Taxpayers are footing a bill of more than $73,400 a night for detention centre staff to stay in a floating hotel moored off Papua New Guinea's Manus Island - SMH

8.15am "Just let it go, mate." Last words of 53-year-old Bruce Steensen, of Brisbane, who died on Saturday night from head injuries. Police say the football veteran was punched in the face and hit the ground after he had turned and walked away. A 21-year-old Caloundra man will appear in Maroochydore Magistrates Court this morning charged with murder - Courier Mail.

8.08am Should Wollongong return to the all-in-together council clean-ups of the past, where everyone turfs their unwanted stuff onto the curb at once, once a year? Mayor Gordon Bradbery reckons it would be better than the current system, where households can call for a clean-up twice a year (but sometimes purge too early, so it sits there for yonks, or else the neighbours add stuff to the pile in the dead of night, or create their own piles, perhaps thinking the old system still exists). This one's attracting lots of comments on Facebook and on our website. 

8am Good morning, if you're just joining us. Some essentials: 

WEATHER We’re in for a mostly cloudy day with high humidity and a maximum of 24. Right now it’s 18.5 at Bellambi, 14.8 at Albion Park and 18.8 at Kiama. 

TRAINS There is good service on the South Coast line. 

ROADS It's looking mostly clear out there on our roads. The northbound carriageway of the M1 Princes Motorway (F6) is closed at Unanderra between Nolan St overpass and Masters Road. Diversons are via Five Islands Rd, Masters Rd and Springhill Rd. 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.

7.52am O-Week already! A big welcome to new and returning students, and staff. Tickets to the uni's annual Garden Party are on sale for $20 for students and $27 for non-students. There'll be six acts across two stages, including headliners Sticky Fingers. 

7.47am Events at Manus Island are sure to get a mention on the ABC's Q&A tonight. Clive Palmer is back on the panel, with assistant infrastructure minister Jamie Briggs, Australian Council of Trade Unions Pres. Ged Kearney, Gulf War veteran Rhonda Cornum and Shadow Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese.

7.43am Did you spot Gerroa surf pro Sally Fitzgibbons in the Herald's Sunday Life mag? Looking gorgeous, as usual. 

7.41am Congratulations to Illawarra theatre companies, which picked up 11 gongs at the Canberra Area Theatre Awards at the weekend. Story here:

7.35am Scores of copies of Anne Frank's Diary of a Young Girl have been destroyed by an unknown agitator in public libraries across Tokyo. The vandal has torn pages in at least 250 copies of the diary, or publications containing biographies on Frank, Nazi persecution of Jews and related materials. The Simon Wiesenthal Centre, the US-based international Jewish rights group, said on its website: "Only people imbued with bigotry and hatred would seek to destroy Anne's historic words of courage, hope and love in the face of impending doom. We are calling on Japanese authorities to step up efforts to identify and deal with the perpetrators of this hate campaign."

7.27am Casey the leopard seal came to Taronga Zoo in 2007 when he was found washed up on a beach with a fresh cookie-cutter shark bite to his abdomen. He was euthanised last Friday after he inexplicably stopped eating. 

7.20am The Hawks are back at the WEC on Friday to play second-placed Adelaide. Cheap tickets are on again - $40 for families, $10 for kids, from $15 for adults. This could be the one that gets them into the top four.

7.15am "They have won four straight games and are looming as a genuine threat to snatch a finals berth," writes our basketball journo Tim Keeble. "But the Wollongong Hawks still haven't managed to captivate the community in the same manner as years gone by."

7.08am Did you know we're flogging some t-shirts here at the Merc? They're Stack t-shirts, marking the jaw-dropping demolition of the Port Kembla Copper Stack on Thursday. We all wore them in the office then, and ordered in pizza for lunch. Mmmm, pizza ... Anyhoo, they're 25 clams each and are quite good quality. Here's our journo Gemma in one, with a firey friend -

7am Good morning, if you're just joining us. Some essentials: 

WEATHER We’re in for a mostly cloudy day with high humidity and a maximum of 24. Right now it’s 18.3 at Bellambi, 12.7 at Albion Park and 17.2 at Kiama. 

TRAINS There is good service on the South Coast line. 

ROADS It's looking mostly clear out there on our roads. The northbound carriageway of the M1 Princes Motorway (F6) is closed at Unanderra between Nolan St overpass and Masters Road. Diversons are via Five Islands Rd, Masters Rd and Springhill Rd.

6.44am ... more reactions from social media following the death of Charlotte Dawson.

6.39am ... and this from i98fm's Bianca Dye, who said she had herself been receiving "so many" messages of support: 

"So many of these tnite.... Listen... I need to set this straight... I have not been close to Charlotte for years but we did share a special bond 1. with Beauty & The Beast with Stan Zemanek (rip) but mainly with how we both suffered from @anxiety & she gave me beautiful advice over the years... Thanku for the kind words... They need to b directed at the victims of trolling & abuse & anxiety & depression & if ANY good is to come from this tragedy???? @anxietyfreecan we PLEASE TAKE MENTAL HEALTH issues SERIOUSLY ????"

6.29am The tragic death of Charlotte Dawson has prompted a lot of talk about the seriousness of mental illness and bullying on social media. Corrimal model Simone Holtznagel, who came under Dawson's wing during filming for Australia's Next Top Model in 2011, is among those who have posted tributes. She writes: 

"To my darling mentor, 2nd mum and my best friend. I have a Dawso size hole in my heart that's never going to be filled. I'm trying to find solace in the fact that you're exactly where you want to be, even though I desperately wish you weren't. If only you could have seen what everyone else does. Thank you for being an enormous part of my life, and letting me be a part of yours. I hope you have found the peace and eternal happiness you so greatly deserve. I love you, always and forever x"

6.22am Seven West Media commercial director Bruce McWilliam sent a scathing email to Attorney-General George Brandis asking him to ''do your job'' and hold federal police accountable for a Schapelle Corby-related raid of the network, reports the SMH. The feds apologised on Friday for stating a Seven legal representative had been ''reasonably suspected'' of committing an offence, blaming this on a ''word processing error''.

6.14am Did you catch the new Underbelly spin-off last night? Fat Tony and Co centres around the dismantling of king-pin Tony Mokbel's drug empire. Fans of the franchise's trademark sex and violence formula wouldn't have been disappointed. 

6.11am ... and in national news: 

Joe Hockey has warned Australia will run out of money for health and education and must consider unpopular options such as lifting the retirement age, introducing big new taxes, and redesigning the economic system - SMH

Qantas’ heavily unionised workforce fears up to 3000 job cuts will be announced next week when the airline’s management reveals how it plans to strip $2 billion in costs out of the business - SMH

The small community of Pitt Town in Sydney’s northwest is mourning the death of eight-year-old Bridget Wright, killed by a falling tree that injured two other children and a teacher - The Daily Telegraph

* Luke Batty was remembered as the life of the classroom as mourners, in his favourite colour yellow, gathered for his funeral yesterday.

6.04am Let's take a look at our major headlines from over the weekend. 

*  Kenneth James Bellette, 45, was charged with intentionally causing fire and being reckless to its spread near Helensburgh Railway Station on Saturday, and has been denied bail at Wollongong Bail Court -

* A historic day on Sunday, whenthe National Party formed its first Illawarra South Coast branch -

Wollongong City Councillor Vicki Curran wants an independent third party brought in to monitor the rubble of the Port Kembla Copper stack for potential contaminants -

* Can you believe it's been one year since the Kiama tornadoes? Families including the Robinsons, of Jamberoo are still rebuilding, reports Alex Arnold -


WEATHER We’re in for a mostly cloudy day with high humidity and a maximum of 24. Right now it’s 18.5 at Bellambi, 13.5 at Albion Park and 17.6 at Kiama. 

TRAINS There is good service on the South Coast line. 

ROADS It's looking all clear out there on our roads.

6am - Good morning, Illawarra, and welcome to the start of another week. 


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