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

8.57am That's it from me this morning. Have a great Monday.

8.54am The RSPCA Million Paws Walk is on Sunday, May 18, near the corner of Reddall Parade and Entrance Street, Reddall Reserve, Lake Illawarra. Make your daily dog walk count towards a good cause.

8.51am LOCAL NEWS Illawarra and Shoalhaven nurses will take time on Monday to celebrate, and reflect, during International Nurses Day.

Activities will include a pizza delivery for nurses at Bulli Hospital; a morning tea at Coledale Hospital and cupcakes for nursing staff at Port Kembla Hospital.

8.48am On this day in 2008, an earthquake measuring around 8.0 magnitude killed almost 70,000 people in Sichuan, China.

8.45am A little history to enjoy with your coffee

8.42am Did you manage to check out the performance of Lake at the IPAC over the weekend? A 70 square metre pool was erected on the stage, filled with 3000 litres of water spread two inches deep across the floor for the dance. If you missed it, the Merc photographers took some amazing images, which you can see here.

8.38am Thirroul artist and 10-time Archibald Prize nominee Paul Ryan is holding an exhibition titled Dandies and Lions at Gallery Ecosse in the Southern Highlands. Gallery Ecosse, Exeter Road, Exeter, is open Friday and Saturday 10am - 5pm and Sunday 10am - 3pm. 

8.34am Depression can have just as much of an impact on your heart as smoking 

8.30am TRAFFIC ALERT One northbound lane on the Hume Highway near the Bargo turnoff is closed following a truck accident. There is a traffic queue of up to 3 kilometres.

8.26am SPORT NEWS The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority’s inquiry into the use of prohibited substances in two football codes is set to reach new heights as 17 players from Cronulla’s 2011 squad and as many as 40 from AFL team Essendon face possible sanctions. SMH

8.23am If someone brings me one of these treats from Sandygoodwich, I will be very grateful

8.20am  Calling all comic book fans! We have the perfect event for you! Comic Gong returns on May 17 and is again promoting local comic artists and comic culture in the Illawarra. The event is based at Wollongong Town Hall and features trade stalls, comic workshops, craft activities and more!

8.15am If you've ever spotted Conrad - real name Graham Smith - walking along the Illawarra's northern beaches, picking up rubbish, have a read of this interview with the conservationist.

8.10am Surfers at McCauleys Beach captured this amazing footage of a curious dolphin getting up close and personal with the wave riders.

8.06am The Ghost of Courtney Puckey Tour is on Tuesday at 10am. Meet at Stuart Park near playground and join an interactive tour with the character of Courtney Puckey, and learn about his role in local history. $9 per person, includes tea or coffee. Bookings are essential - call (02) 4227 7667.

8.03am TRAFFIC ALERT Anyone heading near the Southern Highlands this morning be warned there is a truck accident near Yerrinbool on the Hume Highway, south of the Bargo turnoff. Traffic is affected in both directions.

8am If you're just joining us, the roads and trains are all going smoothly and it will be a mostly sunny day with top temps of about 20 degrees across the region.

7.55am LOCAL NEWS  As Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian announced last Thursday plans for a $2.8 billion rollout of 65 new trains for the Illawarra, Central Coast, Newcastle and Blue Mountains lines, the region's commuters were more in favour of faster trains that were on time than ones with all the bells and whistles. 

7.51am Australians are eating less fruit and vegetables than ever before, new data from the Bureau of Statistics shows.

In the first profile of Australia's eating habits available in 15 years, the Australian Health Survey of 12,000 people found we are eating 30 per cent less fruit and vegetables than 15 years ago.

Put down the burgers, people, and eat a banana instead. SMH

7.48am CELEB GOSS More baby news - apparently Scarlett Johansson has a baby bump too. How did I miss that one?

7.45am TV NEWS To my delight and my boyfriend's distaste, Offspring is back on Wednesday night. Hooray! Did any manage to catch episode one when it was available online last week?

7.42am WORLD NEWS After little more than a year atop the Throne of St Peter, Francis's teachings on Satan are already regarded as the most old school of any pope since at least Paul VI. Largely under the radar, theologians and Vatican insiders say, Francis has not only dwelled far more on Satan in sermons and speeches than his recent predecessors have, but has also sought to rekindle the Devil's image as a supernatural entity with the forces of evil at his beck and call. SMH

7.38am Need a laugh this weekend? Between May 15 and 17 the 2014 Melbourne International Comedy Festival Road Show comes to Wollongong. Comedians include; Tom Ballard, David Quirk, Bev Killick and Marcus Ryan. Venue: IPAC, Wollogngong. Times: Thu 15 May 6.30pm, Fri 16 May 8pm, Sat 17 May 6pm & 9pm. Tickets: $37-42, call the box office on (02) 4224 5999 or visit to book.

7.33am ILLAWARRA NEWS Fire destroyed a 50-metre high conveyor belt at the southern end of BlueScope’s Port Kembla Steelworks on Saturday morning. It was the second time in a week Fire and Rescue officers were called to a blaze at BlueScope, with a fire igniting at the site’s recycling area on May 2. 

7.30am NATIONAL NEWS Health Minister Jillian Skinner plans to establish a government-run register of sperm donor records, allowing offspring to apply for non-identifying information about their donor fathers. This could include medical history, ethnicity and physical characteristics such as eye and hair colour. SMH

7.26am MORE CELEB GOSS My favourite celeb couple, Hamish Blake and Zoe Foster-Blake, have welcomed their first son into the world over the weekend. Named Sonny, his first baby pics are just gorgeous - including a knitted beanie with teddy ears.

7.24am CELEB GOSS I think this counts as official confirmation - Mila Kunis has chatted about pregnancy cravings and her birth plan on Ellen. The actress is pregnant with her first child to former That 70s Show co-star Ashton Kutcher. Jackie and Kelso forever! Essential Baby

7.20am May 12 cherubs share their birthday with skateboarder Tony Hawk, Emily Vancamp from the TV show Revenge and the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale.

7.17am NATIONAL NEWS Tuesday’s budget will reportedly see a further 50 government agencies abolished or merged, key assets including the Royal Australian Mint sold off and 16,000 commonwealth public service jobs slashed. Those earmarked for abolition now range from the obscure Whitlam government Albury-Wodonga Development Corporation, to the more contemporary Council of Australian Governments Reform Council.The paper says a decision has also been made to privatise the mint, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission corporate register, Australian Hearing, and Defence Housing Australia. AAP

7.14am WORLD NEWS Blueprints to create a handgun with a 3-D printer were downloaded through the Internet to at least eight personal computers in Japan, a US political organisation has said. SMH

7.10am We’ve kicked off our Mercury Cartoon Competition! We want 15 - 25 year olds to produce their own cartoon or caricature that reflects a popular news topic or personality from an Illawarra Mercury news story during May for their chance to win some awesome prizes. PLUS the best entries will be printed in the Illawarra Mercury and exhibited at the Wollongong Art Gallery.

7.06am I love a good bucket list! A few SMH travel writers have compiled this set of must-do activities on all seven continents. Now, to pick a destination...

7.03am Got a few minutes of peace and quiet before the kiddies wake up? Have a look at this piece by reporter Ben Langford on bloodthirsty pirates, Ballarat gold and stolen treasure and tropical shipwrecks and their Oak Flats connection.

7am Wakey, wakey, the sun is officially up. It's a mostly sunny, if not mild day and the roads and trains are looking pretty good.

6.57am VALE Former St George Dragon Reg Gasnier died on Sunday evening, at the age of 74. The rugby league Immortal played for the Dragons during their record run of 11 premierships, including seven grand finals.

6.53am Speaking of extremely cute animals I'd like to call my own, dedicated Nowra firefighters saved a six-week old grey kitten trapped during a house fire on Friday. They carried the unconscious kitty to safety, where he was treated for smoke inhalation. Happily, he was reunited with his owners and has been given a new nickname - Smoky. 

6.50am Cute animal time - a puffling!

6.47am LOCAL SPORT South Coast Wolves moved off the bottom rung of the NSW National Premier League ladder with a 2-0 win over St George on Sunday. Great result guys.

6.43am Also, yesterday was the worst weird day ever - root canal appreciation day. Who comes up with these things?!

6.41am Time for the weird days of the year - today is both Odometer Day and Limerick Day.

On a more serious note, today is International Nurses Day, celebrating the great work they do for their patients.

6.39am TRAFFIC ALERT An earlier car breakdown on Mount Ousley has been cleared. No excuse for being late to work now!

6.35am Need some brekky inspiration? This Good Food gallery was intended for Mother's Day breakfast-in-bed, but there's no reason you can't treat yourself to something more exciting than Weet Bix every day.

6.30am THEATRE UOW law student Kyle Nozza has been cast as the half-masked man in the Arcadian Theatre Group's upcoming production The Phantom of the Opera.

6.26am The Dapto Seniors’ Mothers Day Concert is on today. It’s on at Heininger Hall, Ribbonwood Centre, Dapto. Time: 1:30pm. Entry is a gold coin donation.

6.23am STRANGE BUT TRUE A man climbed to the top of the Sydney Opera House on Sunday afternoon, but his efforts to get a better view of the harbour were thwarted by police, who escorted him down quite quickly. Police have declined to comment on the incident.

6.19am TV GOSS Austria's Conchita Wurst has won this year's Eurovision Song Contest with Rise Like a Phoenix. The 25-year-old bearded drag queen, also known as Tom Neuwirth, raised eyebrows during the initial stages of the comp, with people concerned his "look" would be too out-there for socially conservative countries. SMH

6.15am SPORT NEWS St George Illawarra officials are confident a dispute with Wests Tigers over Benji Marshall's contract won't prevent the former New Zealand skipper from playing next weekend.

6.12am How was everyone's Mother's Day? Where you a mum who traded brekky in bed for a run around Wollongong - you might spot yourself in our gallery of pics from Sunday's Mother's Day Classic.

6.09am National headlines, courtesy of the SMH

*The security firm formerly managing Manus Island camp warned the Immigration Department that fencing and other security measures were inadequate up to nine months before February's riots.

*The mother of a woman who was sexually abused by former Hey Dad! star Robert Hughes has called for an independent investigation into why police failed to charge the actor the abuse was first reported nearly three decades ago.

*One of two men charged with insider trading on the basis of advance knowledge of sensitive government statistics had a field day on March 13, police say, making nearly $2.5 million.


6.05am Here’s what’s making headlines in today’s Mercury

*NSW Planning has given in-principle support to plans to build a multimillion-dollar holistic hospital at Berkeley.

To be known as Life City Wollongong, the hospital would feature a 320-bed hospital, holistic health facilities, childcare and independent seniors' living centres, serviced apartments for patients and 580 car parking spaces.

*A shonky Newcastle builder fined tens of thousands of dollars and banned from the industry worked on at least three Illawarra properties in defiance of court orders.

*Wollongong City Council staff say the NSW government should ask for more information before approving changes to the Port Kembla outer harbour expansion.

Last month, the private consortium that leased Port Kembla in 2012 revealed plans to quadruple capacity of the first completed wharf by allowing much bigger ships - and more of them - into the harbour.

*Hundreds of senior citizens in the Illawarra have been without phone and internet services for more than a week since their provider went into administration last week.

6.02am  Let’s take a look at the roads and the skies

WEATHER Today will be mostly sunny, with a chance of showers in the late morning. Right now it’s almost 16 degrees in Wollongong, with top temps of about 21 degrees throughout the day.

TRAFFIC It’s looking pretty smooth from Nowra to Sydney, with the exception of a car broken down in a northbound lane on Mount Ousley, near Picton Road. Also, there are ongoing roadworks on the highway at Gerringong and the top of Mount Ousley.

TRAINS There is good service on the South Coast Line.

6am Happy Monday. Welcome to the start of the working weeking. Your host Kate Walsh will be bringing you the latest new, weather, traffic and goss in Morning Rush today.