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

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8.30am That's it from us this morning. Have a fab Thursday. See you tomorrow for the TGIF edition of the Rush.

8.14am Anybody reading any good books? I really need another good title to get into. Send me your suggestions!

8.12am Look away now if you don't like snakes because we've found Australia's (possibly) biggest brown snake. It's two metres long. Imagine coming across that in your yard!

8.08am Update your work wardrobe for under $10? I'm listening, particularly given I'm currently wearing PJs.

8.04am A new group of medical interns were welcomed to Wollongong Hospital on Wednesday. The 65 interns began two weeks of orientation at the hospital, and will also work in other Illawarra-Shoalhaven Local Health District hospitals during their year-long internship

8.02am WORLD NEWS: Warning alarms in AirAsia flight QZ8501 were "screaming" as the pilots desperately tried to stabilise the plane just before it plunged into the Java Sea last month, a crash investigator says.

8am Oh good lord, this looks ridiculous. A spiced chocolate brownie cake with pomegranates and raspberries. I'll just go eat my banana and dream of this....

7.58am Good morning! Welcome if you're just tuning in. We're in for a partly cloudy day with a top of 26 degrees. All good on the roads & rail.

7.56am The guys at Rookie are teaming up with Heritage Kitchen for a delicious dining experience this Saturday night. Visit their FB page for more info.

7.54am LOCAL NEWS: A specialist domestic violence and sexual assault court will be trialled in the Illawarra if Labor wins government.

*Politics reporter Andrew Pearson has the story.

7.52am Have you seen Charlie? He's been missing from Corrimal since Jan 11.

7.50am Arr the selfie, so difficult to master. But don't worry, here's a comprehensive guide of how to take selfies like a supermodel.

7.46am A weekend drawing workshop will be held at Wollongong Art Gallery on Feb 21 & 22.

7.44am NSW: The first memorial service for Anita Cobby is set to be held in Blacktown. Her murder touched a nation & the police force, the SMH writes.

7.42am Less than a week until the kiddies go back to school!

7.40am STRANGE BUT TRUE: Bruises are in vogue. At the recent London menswear collections, Chinese designer Shangguan Zhe sent models down the runway with faux bruises, black eyes and gashes, making it look as though a punch up had broken out backstage.

7.38am This picture has seriously made my morning. Hilarious!

7.36am Diary date: Guy Sebastian is playing at the WEC on Feb 12.

7.34am NATIONAL: Notorious Sydney jihadist Mohamed Elomar has boasted online about the conversion of a young Iraqi boy from the minority Yazidi sect to the brutal Islamic State ideology. Read more.

7.32am Rather than go about life like she never had plastic surgery, swimmer Stephanie Rice has celebrated 12 months since her rhinoplasty surgery by talking openly about the difference it has made to her life.

7.30am Happy birthday to Michael Hutchence. The INXS frontman would have been 55 today.

7.28am LOCAL NEWS: The case of a Barrack Heights man accused of escaping from prison officers while at Wollongong Hospital for treatment will return to court in February.

*Court reporter Shannon Tonkin has the story.

7.26am WORLD NEWS: Barack Obama briefly, but pointedly, addressed a year of tense relations with Russia during his State of the Union address this week, saying the US was "upholding the principle that bigger nations can't bully the small." Today Russia replied: Who are you calling a bully? Read more.

7.24am Head down to Kiama this weekend for the annual Kiama Show. Beaut utes! Giant vegetables! Rides! I'm excited just thinking about it!

7.22am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Oh god, my eyes, this cannot be unseen. Kim Kardashian has posed for hubby Kanye West at the snow in nothing but a fur bikini. As you do.

7.20am Love salad but love pizza? Well, now you don't have to choose! Introducing the salad pizza. Check out the recipe here.

7.18am Who doesn't love a little office humour!?

7.16am NATIONAL: Prime Minister Tony Abbott has left open the possibility of Australia withdrawing its ambassador to Indonesia if the execution of Bali nine members Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan goes ahead. (SMH)

7.14am LOCAL SPORT: Benji Marshall has been named as the St George Illawarra Dragons captain for 2015.

7.12am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Miley Cyrus has put her house on the market. You can snap up the California mansion for just under $6 million.

7.10am HEALTH: Most fish oil capsules sold in Australia and New Zealand have less omega-3 fatty acids than their labels claim, a new study shows, promoting calls for consumer watchdogs to investigate.

7.08am STRANGE BUT TRUE: Tasmanian artist Sonia Singh has given Bratz dolls a "tree change", reinventing them without makeup. Read more.

7.06am Sunrise star and new Australian Women's Weekly cover girl Samantha Armytage has rocked it in her first swimsuit spread - she's mastered the "clavicle pop", according to the SMH. See below.

7.04am LOCAL NEWS: The University of Wollongong is aiming to relieve the strain on the Gong Shuttle by introducing a new free bus route of its own.

*Transport reporter Glen Humphries has the story.

7.02am CELEB GOSS ALERT: It's been a huge few months for New Girl's Zooey Deschanel - now she's engaged & pregnant!

7am Apparently it's National Hug Day in the US! We can use that here, right!?

6.58am Good morning! Welcome if you're just tuning in. We're in for a partly cloudy day with a top of 26 degrees. All good on the roads & rail.

6.56am BREAKING: A little boy has been found wandering alone near the bodies of his dead parents after an apparent double murder on the Gold Coast.

6.54am Have you made your Australia Day plans? Don't forget there's heaps of (free!) action down at Belmore Basin and around Kiama & Shellharbour too.

6.52am LOCAL SPORT: Wollongong floor general Rhys Martin has challenged the Hawks to take charge under the boards in Friday's Heritage Week rematch with Adelaide at WIN Entertainment Centre. C'mon boys!

6.50am I love this - can anyone else relate!?

6.48am NATIONAL: Paid interviews with Sydney siege hostages should be prevented from going to air because they risk tainting future evidence and weakening the coronial process, former state coroner John Abernethy says.

6.46am Grease is the word! The sing-a-long version of Grease is set to screen at the Wollongong Sunset Cinema on Friday night. Nice!

6.44am MUSIC NEWS: Eddie Murphy is releasing a reggae single. 'Nuff said.

6.42am Double demerits come into force on midnight Friday and conclude on midnight on Monday. Stay safe!

6.40am Ready for a collective "aww?" Symbio has welcomed some baby turtles - and they are teeny tiny! Oh so cute.

6.38am LOCAL NEWS: An Illawarra man arrested for sexually propositioning a six-year-old boy in a Corrimal shopping centre was later found to have a video depicting himself having sex with a young child, a court has heard.

*Court reporter Shannon Tonkin has the story.

6.36am Don't forget Wollongong Workshop Theatre is showing play Our Neighbourhood this weekend. Tickets still available.

6.34am HEALTH: The Abbott government has been accused of exaggerating growth in healthcare spending to justify cuts to Medicare rebates. Health Minister Sussan Ley has begun consulting doctors about reforms to rein in what she has called the "rapid and unsustainable" rate of growth in Medicare spending. (SMH)

6.32am One lucky Warilla Grove shopper pocketed a cool $10 million this week via a VERY lucky Lotto ticket. Nice one!

6.30am BREAKING WORLD NEWS: The French prime minister has just announced plans to commit $1 billion to fighting terrorism over three years.

6.28am Don't forget Little Shop of Horrors is on at the IPAC. Get your tickets, you want to see the people-eating plant!

6.26am SPORT: The Aussies are ROCKING it in the Australian Open - Nick Kyrgios is one game away from a match-up with Federer while fellow Aussie Sam Groth outslugged Thanasi Kokkinakis (sadly!) in five sets.

6.24am CELEB GOSS ALERT: The cover for Kim Kardashian's upcoming book of selfies (yes, you read right) has been revealed - and it's not of her naked butt! It's actually her cleavage instead. Of course!

6.22am A little Thursday funny for you.

6.20am LOCAL NEWS: John Reisp, the former police officer with post-traumatic stress disorder who spoke out about his torment at the hands of private investigators, has finally won his fight for insurance benefits after nearly four long, dark years.

*Reporter Cyd Mardon has the story.

6.18am Anybody else starting to get excited for the opening of Mr Crown aka new Glasshouse?! I love having somewhere new to play!

6.16am TV NEWS: Rumours are starting to swirl about who's heading into the jungle for the Aussie version of I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here! Over-the-top US entertainment reporter Richard Reid appears certain to be appearing.

6.14am Don't forget the Eat Street Markets kick off in the Crown St Mall tonight. Head into town from 5pm for yummy food from heaps of local restaurants.

6.12am Check out the fur on this kitty. He's not to be messed with - clearly!

6.10am WORLD NEWS: As thousands of Nigerians and Cameroonians fled for their lives from rampaging Boko Haram fighters, the leader of the violent Islamist group reportedly bragged in a video released Tuesday about the slaughter in the town of Baga and promised that there would be more to come.

6.08am CELEB GOSS ALERT: The sex of Justin Timberlake & Jessica Biel's baby has been revealed! They're having a ... GIRL!

6.06am And in national news, via the SMH:

*Tony Abbott is facing growing backbench anger over his government's mishandling of the GP co-payment and university funding changes from last year's budget, as MPs returning from their electorates express frustration over the government's poor standing with voters.

*A washing machine repairman has become the focus of the investigation into the disappearance of William Tyrell after police discovered the man had carried out work at the home from which the toddler vanished.

*Australian households have been coping well with record high household debt but this could swiftly change should the Reserve Bank hike interest rates higher than anticipated by the end of 2016, ANZ economists have predicted. Read more.

6.04am Here's what's making news in your Mercury today:

*A Corrimal man who raped and killed an 81-year-old grandmother as she walked home on Keira Street in 1988, is likely to die in jail after falling seriously ill with more than 2 years of his sentence still to serve.

*Twenty-nine overseas workers involved in metal construction at the Manildra site on Bolong Road, Bomaderry are being paid under-award rates and living in cramped conditions, a union has claimed.

*Half of the proceeds from the long-term lease of Port Kembla port will be spent in the Illawarra under a NSW Labor government, Opposition Leader Luke Foley promised on Wednesday. Read more.

6.02am Let's kick off the morning with the latest weather & traffic.

WEATHER We're in for a partly cloudy day with a top of 26 degrees. There is a high chance of thunderstorms this morning, becoming less likely this afternoon.

TRAFFIC All looks good on our roads & for the drive to Sydney.

TRAINS There is a good service on the South Coast line.

6am Good morning Illawarra and welcome to Thursday's edition of Morning Rush. Anybody else struggling with these warm nights? Honestly, I'd kill for a breeze.