Moses ignites Parramatta’s finals charge

Mitchell Moses has discovered career-best form in Sydney’s west and has Parramatta daring to dream.

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The Eels provisionally moved into the NRL top four with a comprehensive 20-4 dismantling of Canterbury in wet conditions at ANZ Stadium on Thursday night.

After being 13th through six rounds, the Eels have lost just three times since then and are on a six-match winning streak to be peaking at the right time of year.

The catalyst behind the Eels’ surge has been Moses’ controversial mid-season shift from the Wests Tigers.

After being maligned throughout his career for his failure to regularly deliver, he has found consistency under Brad Arthur.

His kicking game has come along in leaps and bounds, as demonstrated on Thursday night when he strangled the life out of the Dogs with his short game and regularly gave his team field position with his long kicking.

The Eels forced Des Hasler’s side to make nine drop-outs and Moses made good use of the advantage, setting up two tries to spearhead an important victory.

“We had a bit of a target on our kicks and what we wanted to achieve and where they started their sets and the boys did a really good job,” Arthur said of his halves Moses and Corey Norman.

The Eels are now assured of playing finals football for the first time since 2009 and have rivals looking over their shoulder.

Eels great Peter Sterling said during the Network Nine broadcast that the blue-and-golds could do anything in the finals if they finish in the top four.

“You wouldn’t want to be playing Parramatta in the last month,” Sterling said.

Arthur has been reluctant to talk up his side’s finals hopes, arguing their spot in the top eight wasn’t yet assured.

He said there was no reason they couldn’t compete with the best sides in the competition if they keep putting in performances similar to what they did against the Bulldogs.

“We’ve still got a bit to work on,” Arthur said.

“If we can continue to improve every week and stick to our plan like we did tonight with our discipline, and not get carried away, we can make some real noise.”

Brazil police arrest ex-Rio infrastructure head in Olympics graft probe

Police and federal prosecutors said in statements that 35.

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5 million reais (8.67 million pounds) in bribes were paid by companies that built a bus rapid transit system linking Rio’s main airport to Olympic areas, as well as works to clean sewage-infested waters near the Olympic village, which remain badly polluted.

Federal prosecutors said a consortium led by construction firms OAS SA and Carioca Engenharia paid bribes to officials at the federal Cities Ministry so they would free up funding to city officials for the projects. They also allegedly paid bribes to city officials once the firms were paid for their work.

Police arrested Alexandre Pinto, head of infrastructure in the government of former Mayor Eduadro Paes, who oversaw much of Rio’s Olympic efforts.

Brazil’s Supreme Court opened an investigation in April into Paes, accused in plea bargain testimony of taking at least 15 million reais in bribes related to Olympic contracts. He denies any wrongdoing.

Paes said in a statement on Thursday that it would be “a great disappointment” if the accusations against Pinto and about the overall scheme were found to be true. The former mayor underscored that Pinto was not a political appointee, but a career bureaucrat.

Pinto could not immediately be reached for comment. It was not clear who was providing legal counsel for him.

Thursday’s accusations were not the first to be made in connection with Brazil’s hosting of the world’s two largest sporting events – the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Games.

In April, federal investigators alleged that contracts to build or refurbish at least six soccer stadiums, including Rio’s famed Maracana, were alleged to have been won by firms paying bribes to officials.

In March, investigators made arrests in connection to alleged bribes paid in connection to the extension of Rio’s subway line to the main Olympic area.

Investigators in France are probing whether money was doled out to members of the International Olympic Committee to vote in 2009 for Rio to win the right to host the Games.

(Reporting by Pedro Fonseca; Writing by Brad Brooks; Editing by Andrew Hay)

Truce begins in another Syria ‘safe zone’

Russia’s defence ministry has announced a ceasefire for a third safe zone in war-torn Syria, paving the way for the delivery of sorely needed humanitarian relief to rebel-held areas north of the city of Homs.

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In central Syria meanwhile a swap between Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group and Syria’s al-Qaeda affiliate ended with more than 7000 fighters and civilians crossing into rebel-held parts of northern Syria in return for the release of five Lebanese militants who arrived in government-held parts of the country.

Military spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said Russia would deploy military police in the area on Friday and set up two checkpoints and three observation points around its borders.

It is the third of four planned ceasefires reached in recent months under an agreement brokered by Russia, Iran, and Turkey in May that aims to “de-escalate” the violent and prolonged Syrian civil war.

Russia and Iran are providing military support to President Bashar al-Assad, while Turkey sponsors some of the opposition forces arrayed against him.

Pro-government forces have besieged the enclave north of Homs for years, but have been unable to capture it from the opposition even as it recovered territory elsewhere.

Shelling and air strikes against the enclave have eased since the May agreement was signed, said Khaled. Residents will now be expecting further relief.

The agreement, according to notes leaked by the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group, follows the model of another ceasefire zone for the suburbs of Damascus.

Both truces were negotiated in Cairo between Russia and what the ministry of defence described as the “moderate opposition”.

The agreement also prescribes the release of political prisoners, long a demand of the opposition.

The government’s air force has cut back its attacks on the four “de-escalation zones” designated in the May agreement.

The Philippines open to ‘fresh perspectives’ from ADF in fight against IS in Marawi

The Philippines government says it is open to learning from the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to aid its fight against IS in Marawi.

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“We are always open to learning the best military practices around the world so that we can incorporate them in our own doctrines,” Defence Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana told SBS World News from Manila.

“Australia would be able to provide us fresh perspectives drawn from its own operations across the globe.”

IS rebels in the southern city of Marawi continue to hold out against Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s forces since first claiming the city earlier in the year.

The Defence Secretary said the need to defeat IS in the region was vital.

The Philippines Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. (AAP)AAP

“Our collective victory on this front will also benefit Australia and the rest of the world as a single foothold of IS in this region will surely affect other countries,” he said.

Secretary Lorenzana did not confirm whether the Philippines had officially requested Australian soldiers to help train its forces, but said the two countries already shared military bonds.

“The Status of Visiting Forces Agreement between both governments enables the ADF and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to regularly conduct joint exercises and training in order to increase interoperability, familiarisation and goodwill.”

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Australia recently sent two AP-3C Orion surveillance aircraft to support the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“The regional threat from terrorism, in particular from Daesh and foreign fighters, is a direct threat to Australia and our interests,” Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne said when announcing the deployment.

Secretary Lorenzana said the Philippines is open to international support.

“We welcome any technical assistance that our allies can provide while the Armed Forces of the Philippines in the process of developing its own capabilities,” he said.

0:00 Fighting in Marawi, The Philippines explained Share Fighting in Marawi, The Philippines explained

“Australia can share vital information and intelligence, provide technical assistance to our operating units, and combat the spread of violent extremism by helping the Philippine government target its root causes – poverty and underdevelopment that breed social injustice.”

Approximately 300 Australian soldiers have been deployed to Iraq to train and advise the Iraqi military in the fight against IS.

The ADF is also mentoring its counterparts in Afghanistan.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is due to visit Manila over the weekend to meet with government officials.

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Webb well off pace at Women’s British Open

Australia’s Karrie Webb heads into the second round of the Women’s British Open in Scotland a whopping 11 shots off the pace following a round to remember from Michelle Wie.

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The American finished with three straight birdies to finish eight-under-par. She took until the par-4 fourth to record her first after bogeying the second but that was the last of her mistakes. The 27-year-old from Hawaii shot 30 on the back nine.

Wie has a one-shot lead over In-Kyung Kim who shot 65. American Lindy Duncan is a shot further back and England’s Mel Reid and Jodi Ewart Shadoff part of a five-strong group on five-under.

“I felt like I struggled in the last couple of British Opens and made it a point to come over early,” Wie, who is seeking a first victory since the 2014 US Open, told Sky Sports.

“I felt the Scottish Open (where she was 19th) was a great way to get into links golf. It’s a different way of playing so it was good to hit a couple of shots I haven’t hit before but I love it, it’s so much fun.

“It makes it a little tougher with the hard lies, it jars it a little bit, but I felt great.”

Webb, who finished tied for second at last week’s Scottish Open, was unable to back up that form on day one at Kingsbarns, carding a three-over 75 alongside compatriot Sarah Jane Smith.

The seven-time major winner had two bogeys in her first three holes and recorded two more in her round with the only highlight a birdie on the par-4 ninth.

Whitney Hillier is the best-placed Australian at one-under after a 71, one shot clear of Minjee Lee. Stacey Peters dropped two shots late to card a 74.

Webb wasn’t alone among big names struggling. New Zealand’s Lydia Ko is nine shots off the lead.

The world No.5 managed one early birdie, followed immediately by two bogeys and played to par for the rest of a one-over 73.