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More than 5 million affected by flooding in eastern China

BEIJING, China – More than 5 million people have been displaced or otherwise affected by flooding in eastern China that is also pushing up food prices, state media reported Sunday.

Torrential rains have left huge areas of Hubei and Zhejiang provinces under water, with more than 1 million acres (432,200 hectares) of farmland inundated, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Almost 1,000 businesses have been forced to suspend operations and 5.7 million people have had their lives disrupted, Xinhua said in a brief report. More than 7,000 homes collapsed or were otherwise damaged and direct financial damage was estimated at almost 6 billion yuan ($930 million).

The downpour triggered a mudslide that buried houses and killed two people in Zhejiang’s Changshan county, while two more were killed and two left missing by flooding in Hubei, Xinhua said.

Flooding in eastern and southern China this month has left more than 170 people dead or missing. Roads and railways have been blocked, but aid supplies are arriving and the country’s weather bureau says skies are expected to clear up Monday.

Farmers quoted by Xinhua said the flooding was the worst in 20 years, reducing vegetable output by 20 per cent and also causing shortages of fruits and grains. Prices for green vegetables were up 40 per cent, Xinhua said, adding to an inflation rate of 5.5 per cent, a three-year high.

The increase in the consumer price index reported last week was in line with expectations but higher than April’s 5.3 per cent and March’s 5.4 per cent. The National Statistics Bureau said the main factor was an 11.7 per cent jump in food prices.

Higher food prices blamed on flooding were also reported in the eastern provinces of Anhui and Jiangxi, Xinhua said.

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Doctor says patient who got drunk on hand sanitizer in an Australian hospital lucky to survive

SYDNEY – A man who drank six bottles of alcohol-based hand sanitizer while being treated in an Australian hospital for alcoholism has sparked calls for the anti-bacterial gels to be better secured.

Doctors said in a letter published Sunday in the Medical Journal of Australia that they were stunned to discover the man had downed six 375-millilitre (12.7-ounce) bottles of hand sanitizer, giving him a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.271 per cent. That’s more than five times higher than the 0.05 per cent legal limit for driving in Australia.

Dr. Michael Oldmeadow, an internist at The Alfred hospital in Melbourne city, said that although the incident was not the first of its kind, it was the most serious case he had seen and the man is lucky to have survived.

“It surprised us that he drank this stuff,” Oldmeadow said, according to the Australian Associated Press. “It’s horrendous. You’d think it would taste pretty bad.”

The 45-year-old had been undergoing treatment for alcohol-related gastritis when he drank the sanitizer. The gel has an ethanol content of 66 per cent and is routinely used by medical staff to prevent infection.

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The man had been admitted to hospital three days earlier and suddenly became drowsy for no apparent reason. After nurses cleaning his bed discovered the near-empty sanitizer bottles, the man admitted to drinking the sanitizer and agreed to undergo a breath test.

When the incident occurred was unclear, but Oldmeadow and three of his colleagues said in the letter that three other patients also drank hand sanitizer at The Alfred in the last six months.

They said the incident highlighted the need for hospitals to bolt hand sanitizer bottles to walls so they could only be refilled but never removed. In Australian hospitals, the bottles are commonly held in wire baskets and are easily removed, but the doctors said at least one U.S. hospital is using non-removable dispensers.

Molina homers, Blue Jays beat Reds 4-0 to keep Cincy winless in interleague play

CINCINNATI – Brandon Morrow threw everything he had at the NL’s most prolific lineup, one that was geared up to hit the hard stuff but couldn’t make its chances count.

Morrow bounced back from one of his worst starts on Saturday night by using every type of pitch he can throw, and Jose Molina doubled and homered, leading the Toronto Blue Jays to a 4-0 victory that kept the Cincinnati Reds winless in interleague play.

Morrow (3-4) gave up five hits in 6 2-3 innings, two of them by Jay Bruce. He threw first-pitch strikes to 22 of the 26 batters he faced, using his slower curve and change-up to complement the hard fastball and slider that are usually his best pitches.

“I got ahead with the curveball or the change-up,” Morrow said. “It wasn’t necessarily great results, but I put it in their heads that I’ve got those, too.”

He made a handful of runs stand up.

“When we scored, he went out and continued to put up zeros,” manager John Farrell said. “That’s a huge momentum keeper.”

Jose Bautista also had a pair of hits, including an RBI single off Edinson Volquez (5-7), who lost for the first time since he returned from a fine-tuning stint in the minors.

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Cincinnati fell to 0-5 against the American League this season. The Reds were swept in Cleveland last month.

“It’s like we take two steps forward and one back,” manager Dusty Baker said. “Now we’ve got to start moving forward tomorrow. The thing is, we’ve got to figure out these American League teams.”

The Blue Jays got their second combined shutout of the season – they also blanked Minnesota 2-0 on May 13. The Reds were shut out for the third time.

Reds first baseman Joey Votto of Toronto received the Lou Marsh Trophy on the field before the game, honouring him as Canada’s top athlete in 2010.

Votto won the National League’s MVP last season and led the Reds to their first division title and playoff appearance in 15 years. He grew up a fan of the Blue Jays, but is having a tough time against them, going 0 for 8 while getting the ball out of the infield only once.

It’s the first time Votto has failed to reach base in back-to-back games since August 2009.

He’s not the only part of the NL’s most prolific offence struggling against Blue Jays pitchers. Cincinnati has scored two runs in the series, both on homers.

Morrow wanted to rebound from his dreadful start a week earlier, when he allowed a career-high nine runs in only 4 1-3 innings of a 16-4 loss to Boston. Morrow left with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh. Jason Frasor got pinch-hitter Edgar Renteria to fly out.

The Blue Jays got a run in the third, but could have had more.

Yunel Escobar doubled to start the third. Corey Patterson pulled a drag bunt toward first, and Volquez fielded and threw wildly to first for an error that let Escobar round the bases. The ball bounced over the rolled-up tarp down the line, briefly disappeared behind it, then rolled out the far end.

Patterson thought the ball was dead, slowed on his way to third base and was tagged out. Farrell came onto the field to question the decision, which was upheld after a brief conference by the umpires.

Molina homered off the facing of the upper deck in left field to open the fourth. Rajai Davis then tripled and scored on Jayson Nix’s sacrifice fly. Bautista singled home a run in the fifth that made it 4-0, getting a ground ball through Cincinnati’s pronounced infield shift – three fielders between second and third.

Notes: Country music singer Marlee Scott of Edmonton, sang both national anthems. … The three pigeons that spent most of Friday night’s game walking around the infield didn’t return for the second game of the series … Toronto is 3-2 in interleague play. … Molina is 3 for 6 career off Volquez with a pair of homers. … Bruce snapped an 0-for-17 slump that matched the longest of his career. … Baker said RHP Homer Bailey, on the DL with a strained pitching shoulder, is expected to make at least one more rehab start. He’s 0-1 with a 7.36 earned-run average in two starts.

‘Big Man’ Clarence Clemons remembered in Asbury Park, NJ shore town where he and Bruce ruled

ASBURY PARK, N.J. – Clarence Clemons, the larger-than-life saxophone player who helped catapult Bruce Springsteen to rock fame, was known as “The Big Man,” a nod to his physical size as well as his stage presence and booming sax notes.

Outside The Stone Pony, the legendary Jersey shore rock club where Clemons, Springsteen and other E Street band mates cut their musical teeth, Clemons loomed large as ever hours after his death Saturday from complications of a stroke.

“It’s a sad day for music and for Asbury Park,” said Caroline O’Toole, the club’s general manager. “He was huge here at the Jersey shore. He was ‘The Big Man,’ but he was an even bigger man here. His presence was just enormous and unbelievable. No one who has ever played at our club in all the decades was ever like him.”

The Stone Pony will open its doors at noon Sunday to let Clemons’ fans gather and reminisce about his storied career.

Within hours of his death, fans were slowly stopping by the club, which was hosting an unrelated act catering to a younger crowd Saturday night. Flowers, a candle and a handwritten sign saying “RIP Big Man” sprouted outside the building.

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Phil Kuntz stopped to place a small yellow flower on a decorative white fence at the club entrance. Nearby, someone taped a handwritten sign that read simply “RIP Big Man.”

“I’ll never hear ‘Jungleland’ played live again, and that’s a bummer,” said Kuntz, 51, who had seen Clemons perform with Springsteen in excess of 200 times.

Brian Gay, 37, of Fair Haven, was watching a roller derby show at Convention Hall two blocks away when Clemons’ death was announced, and he, too, went to the Stone Pony to pay respects.

“You knew it was coming but it still hits you like a ton of bricks,” he said. “It just hurts. As a kid some of my earliest memories were of listening to his music. It feels right to be in Asbury Park tonight.”

John D’Esposito, a talent buyer for the concert promoter Live Nation, also stopped by The Stone Pony to honour The Big Man.

“Asbury Park is crying right now,” he said. “It’s like the whole city is one big teardrop. Our Pied Piper is gone.”

Kyle Brendle, the house promoter at the Stone Pony, said Springsteen and Clemons played routinely at the club in the 1970s – but usually as unannounced acts.

“They never performed here as The E Street Band,” he said. “It was usually that they’d jump up on stage, unannounced, and rock out, ’cause they were here so often.”

The last time Clemons played the club was at a solo show in the summer of 2006, Brendle said. O’Toole laughed as she recalled having to find a masseuse for Clemons, who complained of an aching back that night.

“It was a Saturday night in the middle of the summer, and not exactly easy to come up with a masseuse on short notice,” she said, “So I called this woman I knew, who wasn’t a masseuse. I told her, ‘If he asks if you’re really a masseuse, just say yes.’”

O’Toole said Clemons, Springsteen and the E Street Band helped rebuild Asbury Park from a struggling, faded seaside resort in the early ’70s to a rebounding, hip culture centre. His raucous sax solos helped define the Jersey shore sound of the ’70s and ’80s, a genre that also included Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, and occasionally, a young Jon Bon Jovi.

“He played a huge part in making this city what it is today,” she said. “Losing part of our musical and personal history, well, it really, really hurts.”

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Wayne Parry can be reached at 杭州桑拿按摩论坛twitter杭州龙凤/WayneParryAC

E Street Band sax player Clarence Clemons dies at 69; Springsteen calls loss ‘immeasurable’

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Clarence Clemons, the larger-than-life saxophone player for the E Street Band who was one of the key influences in Bruce Springsteen’s life and music through four decades, has died. He was 69.

Clemons died Saturday night after being hospitalized about a week ago following a stroke at his home in Singer Island, Florida.

Bruce Springsteen acknowledge the dire situation earlier this week, but said then he was hopeful. He called the loss “immeasurable.”

“We are honoured and thankful to have known him and had the opportunity to stand beside him for nearly 40 years,” Springsteen said on his website. “He was my great friend, my partner and with Clarence at my side, my band and I were able to tell a story far deeper than those simply contained in our music. His life, his memory, and his love will live on in that story and in our band.”

Known as the Big Man for his imposing 6-foot (1.83-meter)-5-inch (12.7-centimetre), 270-plus pound (122.47-kilogram) frame, Clemons and his ever-present saxophone spent much of his life with The Boss, and his booming saxophone solos became a signature sound for the E Street Band on many key songs, including “Jungleland,” a triumphant solo he spent 16 hours perfecting, and “Born To Run.”

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Outside The Stone Pony, the legendary Asbury Park, New Jersey, rock club where Springsteen, Clemons and other E Street Band members developed their craft in the 1970s, Phil Kuntz stopped to place a small yellow flower on a decorative white fence. Nearby, someone taped a handwritten sign that read simply “RIP Big Man.”

“I’ll never hear ‘Jungleland’ played live again, and that’s a bummer,” said Kuntz, 51, who had seen Clemons perform with Springsteen in excess of 200 times.

In recent years, Clemons had been slowed by health woes. He endured major spinal surgery in January 2010 and, at the 2009 Super Bowl, Clemons rose from a wheelchair to perform with Springsteen after double knee replacement surgery.

But his health seemed to be improving. In May, he performed with Lady Gaga on the season finale of “American Idol,” and performed on two songs on her “Born This Way” album.

Clemons said in a 2010 interview with The Associated Press then that he was winning his battles – including severe, chronic pain and post-surgical depression. His sense of humour helped.

“Of all the surgeries I’ve had, there’s not much left to operate on. I am totally bionic,” he said.

“God will give you no more than you can handle,” he said in the interview. “This is all a test to see if you are really ready for the good things that are going to come in your life. All this pain is going to come back and make me stronger.”

An original member – and the oldest member – of the E Street Band, Clemons also performed with the Grateful Dead, the Jerry Garcia Band, and Ringo Starr’s All Star Band. He recorded with a wide range of artists including Aretha Franklin, Roy Orbison and Jackson Browne. He also had his own band called the Temple of Soul.

The stage “always feels like home. It’s where I belong,” Clemons, a former youth counsellor, said after performing at a Hard Rock Cafe benefit for Home Safe, a children’s charity, in 2010.

Born in Norfolk, Virginia, Clemons was the grandson of a Baptist minister and began playing the saxophone when he was 9.

“Nobody played instruments in my family. My father got that bug and said he wants his son to play saxophone. I wanted an electric train for Christmas, but he got me a saxophone. I flipped out,” he said in a 1989 interview with the AP.

He was influenced by R&B artists such as King Curtis and Junior Walker. But his dreams originally focused on football. He played for Maryland State College, and was to try out for the Cleveland Browns when he got in a bad car accident that made him retire from the sport for good.

His energies then focused on music.

In 1971, Clemons was playing with Norman Seldin & the Joyful Noise when he heard about rising singer-songwriter named Springsteen, who was from New Jersey. The two hit it off immediately and Clemons officially joined the E Street Band in 1973 with the release of the debut album “Greetings from Asbury Park.”

Clemons emerged as one of the most critical members of the E Street Band for different reasons. His burly frame would have been intimidating if not for his bright smile and endearing personality that charmed fans.

“It’s because of my innocence,” he said in a 2003 AP interview. “I have no agenda – just to be loved. Somebody said to me, ‘Whenever somebody says your name, a smile comes to their face.’ That’s a great accolade. I strive to keep it that way.”

But it was his musical contributions on tenor sax that would come to define the E Street Band sound.

“Since 1973 the Springsteen/Clemons partnership has reaped great rewards and created insightful, high energy rock & roll,” declared Don Palmer in Down Beat in 1984. “Their music, functioning like the blues from which it originated, chronicled the fears, aspirations, and limitations of suburban youth. Unlike many musicians today, Springsteen and Clemons were more interested in the heart and substance rather than the glamour of music.”

In a 2009 interview, Clemons described his deep bond with Springsteen, saying: “It’s the most passion that you have without sex.”

“It’s love. It’s two men – two strong, very virile men – finding that space in life where they can let go enough of their masculinity to feel the passion of love and respect and trust,” he added.

Clemons continued to perform with the band for the next 12 years, contributing his big, distinctive big sound to the albums, “The Wild, The Innocent and the E-Street Shuffle,” ”Born to Run,” ”Darkness on the Edge of Town, “The River” and “Born in the USA.” But four years after Springsteen experienced the blockbuster success of “Born in the USA” and toured with his group, he decided to disband the E Street Band.

“There were a few moments of tension,” the saxophonist recalled in a 1995 interview. “You’ve been together 18, 19 years. It’s like your wife coming to you: ‘I want a divorce.’ You start wondering why? Why? But you get on with your life.”

During the breaks, Clemons continued with solo projects, including a 1985 vocal duet with Browne on the single “You’re a Friend of Mine” and saxophone work on Franklin’s 1985 hit single “Freeway of Love.” He released his own albums, toured, and even sang on some songs.

Clemons also made several television and movie appearances over the years, including Martin Scorsese’s 1977 musical, “New York, New York, in which he played a trumpet player.

The break with Springsteen and the E Street Band didn’t end his relationship with either Springsteen or the rest of the band members, nor would it turn out to be permanent. By 1999 they were back together for a reunion tour and the release of “The Rising.”

But the years took a toll on Clemons’ body, and he had to play through the pain of surgeries and other health woes.

“It takes a village to run the Big Man – a village of doctors,” Clemons told The Associated Press in a phone interview in 2010. “I’m starting to feel better; I’m moving around a lot better.”

He published a memoir, “Big Man: Real Life and Tall Tales,” in 2009 and continued to perform.

He is the second member of the E Street Band to pass away: In 2008, Danny Federici, the keyboardist for the band, died at age 58 of melanoma.

Rochat scores as Whitecaps end record losing streak with 1-0 win over Philly

VANCOUVER – Alain Rochat helped the Vancouver Whitecaps and their win-starved fans breathe a huge sigh of relief.

Rochat’s goal in the 12th minute gave the Whitecaps a 1-0 victory over the Philadelphia Union on Saturday.

The win, the first since the Whitecaps’ season opener on March 19, ended the Vancouver expansion side’s Major League Soccer losing streak at a record 14 games.

“For me, personally, it’s a great feeling,” said Rochat. “But, for the team, I think it’s even more important. We can build on this.”

New coach Tom Soehn picked up his first win since replacing the fired Teitur Thordarson at the end of May. The Whitecaps had gone 0-2-1 under Soehn in three road games.

Soehn and the rest of Whitecaps were happy to give the some inspiration after Wednesday’s riot following the Vancouver Canucks’ loss to Boston in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals.

“It’s been a tough week for the city of Vancouver with the Canucks having such a great year and what happened thereafter,” said Soehn. “It’s something I felt the city needed.”

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The win at Empire was also much needed for the team after the Caps went winless in six home games. Thordarson’s firing was based largely on the club’s inability to win at home before raucous, passionate fans.

“We talked about it at the beginning of the season, that we were going to make Empire a fortress and a difficult place to come and I thought we achieved that today,” said midfielder Terry Dunfield. “Everyone worked real hard for one another and everyone bought into Tommy’s system and philosophy (of staying compact). All that hard work on the training ground paid off.”

After the game, the Empire Field crowd gave the Whitecaps a standing ovation in tribute to only their second home win. The players repaid the gesture by running around the field and waving at their supporters.

“It’s a weight off our shoulders, for sure, but we’ll stay humble by this,” said Dunfield, who returned after missing the previous three games because of national team duty. “We won’t get carried away, maybe, like we did on opening day. We’re still bottom of our conference and only we can do something about it.”

The Whitecaps improved to 2-6-8 while the Union saw its record drop to 6-4-4. Philadelphia missed out on a chance to gain sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference ahead of the idle New York Red Bulls.

“We’re dropping points – we’re like a charity right now,” said Union coach Peter Nowak, vowing to “shuffle the deck.”

The goal was the second of the season for Rochat, a 28-year-old native of Saint-Jean-sur-Richeliu, Que. He scored after taking a pass from Davide Chiumiento, who made a fine run into the middle and then passed it to the defender near the corner of the 18-yard box. The ball curled into the opposite corner of the net while striker Eric Hassli tried to get his head on it.

Rochat said he and Chiumiento practised the move during the week and he told the Swiss midfielder to look for him on the left side if had a chance to take the ball from the right flank into the middle as he did.

“He gave me a great pass and it’s in – perfect,” said Rochat.

“(Rochat) was great – what a goal,” said Dunfield. “The entire back four were good. If you look at the 11 and even the subs, I don’t think there was a poor game out there. Everyone worked hard for one another. It’s great to hear the laughing and joking and singing in the change room. You need that. You need to enjoy your football. It gets you down when you don’t win every win.”

Rochat’s goal came two minutes after Vancouver captain Jay DeMerit blocked a Justin Mapp shot after he took a through ball from recently-signed striker Veljko Paunovic and raced toward the Vancouver goal.

Paunovic, a veteran of Spain’s LaLiga, played his first game since 2008, when he quit playing for family reasons but did not officially retire. He replaced Carlos Ruiz, who scored the Union’s lone goal in its 1-0 victory over Vancouver on March 26 and was away with Guatemala’s national side at the Gold Cup.

“We had good first pressure in the first 10 minutes from the left line and they’d just find a way to get from one side to the other and they crossed a great goal,” said Paunovic, who did little afterwards and subbed out in the 59th minute. “We had to change our way to play. The Whitecaps played a very good game, but we didn’t deserve to lose.”

Vancouver survived a late scare in the 81st minute as Sebastien Le Toux’s flick-on during a scramble rolled just wide of the post.

Vancouver goalkeeper Joe Cannon picked up his first shutout and win as a Whitecap. He was rarely tested but made a nice save on Brian Carroll’s straight-on shot from about 25 yards out in the 23rd minute.

Cannon said the Whitecaps can still be tougher mentally after almost letting the Union back in the game, but he could not fault the effort, which made his night “comfortable.”

The 36-year-old recorded his first clean sheet in almost a year. The last one came while he was with San Jose, shortly before he broke his leg in practice.

Cannon, the former MLS goalkeeper of the year, had been used primarily as a backup before Soehn sought to make a change four games ago and replaced Jay Nolly, who subsequently injured his foot in a workout.

“For me, it was huge, especially here,” said Cannon in his first home appearance. “I’ve been waiting since last November, since I was told I was going to play in Vancouver, to win in front of these fans. You could just a feel collective sigh of relief after the final whistle. . . . It’s been a long time.”

Notes: Real Salt Lake holds the record for a losing streak spanning more than one season. RSL set the mark of 18 between Aug. 10, 2005 and May 6, 2006. … Vancouver coach Soehn and Philadelphia counterpart Peter Nowak were teammates with the Chicago Fire and coached together at D.C. United. … Vancouver midfielder Nizar Khalfan returned after leaving to play for Tanzania in a June 5 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier. He subbed on in the 76th minute for Brazilian Camilo, who is usually a striker but played more of a midfield role under a new-look offensive scheme.

NATO struggles to wrest away Taliban stronghold, poppy profit centre in southern Afghanistan

NAWZAD, Afghanistan – There is little left of this once-violent town centre that the U.S. Marines recently pacified: a couple of dusty roads, closed shops with bare mud brick stalls, small boys herding goats through a jigsaw puzzle of ruined houses and dry irrigation canals.

Just outside the town, fields of poppy flourish, and fleets of turbaned Taliban throttle gutty motorcycles.

Nawzad’s town centre is quiet, but its desert outskirts are still contested. Separate roadside bomb attacks wrecked three armoured U.S. Marine personnel carriers in one day on one road. The Marines were unharmed, but such incidents make movement and commerce in the district risky.

“They told us, you can go if you want, but if you die, don’t blame us because we told you the Taliban hid bombs in the road,” recounted a man who identified himself as Masoud, one of the few merchants left in Nawzad’s once-bustling bazaar.

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The southwest province of Helmand, where Nawzad sits, is where the Afghan war is being fought the hardest. With a population of about 1.4 million, the majority Pashtun province is both a homeland and a thoroughfare for the insurgency. It also houses its economic base, opium. Another sign of Helmand’s strategic importance: More NATO service members, upward of 700, have died in this province than any other.

With so much at stake, Helmand is caught between the competing war strategies of the coalition and the Taliban.

The Associated Press obtained a preliminary draft of The Helmand Plan, a joint coalition and Afghan guide for the next three years. The plan makes clear that the alliance wants to follow an inkblot approach by securing population centres, especially along the fertile Helmand River Valley, and then spreading outward.

Infrastructure development would follow, along with international mentors for nascent Afghan governmental institutions, in the hope that they can then stand on their own. Licit agriculture would blossom, according to the plan, and the Taliban’s poppy industry would wilt under government eradication programs.

Speed also is part of NATO’s strategy. Much of the coalition’s limited progress in Helmand has been achieved during an 18-month military surge that increased NATO forces in the province by 11,000 troops to 30,000. But some troops probably will leave the province in the coming months, the beginning of President Barack Obama’s promised withdrawal from Afghanistan of all combat troops by the end of 2014. By then the country is expected to transition from NATO to Afghan control.

The insurgency also has a plan: resist and delay. And unlike NATO, the Taliban intend to be here long after 2014.

While the Taliban has ceded ground inside cities like Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital, it also guards opium fields and ambushes convoys in suburbs and hinterlands. It stymies provincial communication networks by forcing phone companies to shut down cellular service for most of the day. And it keeps Helmandis dependent on the poppy trade, and the insurgency, by seeding insecurity and retarding development.

Like Nawzad, the northern town of Kajaki, home of a 33-megawatt two-turbine hydroelectric dam, is an archipelago of relative security surrounded by kill zones.

“You go up to the dam, you’ll be fine because you have Bravo Battery, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, who have secured the dam,” said U.S. Marine Col. Norman Cooling, the operations chief for Regional Command Southwest, in charge of security of Helmand and Nimroz to the west. “But if you go patrolling outside the dam, you’re going to get shot at.”

NATO officials say the dam is essential to modernize Afghanistan’s agriculture. It would electrify large swaths of Helmand and Kandahar, making it possible to refrigerate goods and increase their shelf life on their way to markets. (Opium keeps for months without refrigeration.)

In 2008, a 100-vehicle convoy and thousands of British troops were required to haul a third turbine and other equipment to Kajaki. Once installed, the third generator would increase the dam’s output to more than 50 megawatts and provide more consistent electricity to Helmand and much of neighbouring Kandahar province.

The Taliban and affiliated tribes are resisting attempts to clear supply routes or install upgraded power lines between Kajaki and other towns along the Helmand River Valley. One of the most infamous towns along the way to Kajaki is Sangin, a Taliban redoubt where one-third of all British losses in the Afghan war have taken place. Firefights still break out there daily.

Nearly three years after arriving at the dam, the third generator still has not been installed, and the grid has not been upgraded.

Still, after 10 years of war, there also are fragile signs of progress in Helmand.

Governance advisers have been deployed to 10 out of Helmand’s 14 districts. District elections were held this year in Marjah, formerly a Taliban bastion. And President Hamid Karzai identified Lashkar Gah as one of seven cities and provinces ready to transition from NATO to Afghan authority, a milestone intended to set the stage for greater autonomy throughout the volatile province.

However, NATO’s commander in Helmand, U.S. Marine Maj. Gen. John Toolan, worried that the nascent provincial administration will not be up to the challenge. Only a third of Helmand’s districts have active governing councils, and links between the national and provincial agencies are weak, he said.

Due to the Taliban’s assassination campaign against perceived NATO collaborators, many local Afghan leaders cannot live in their own communities without NATO’s protection. Coalition teams are also struggling to advise provincial institutions suffering from illiteracy, inexperience, and rampant corruption, much of it fueled by the poppy trade.

“I wish I could have more time to develop the district and community level pieces of governance, because I’m forcing a face – I’m forcing something on these communities and villages that they really don’t trust right now,” Toolan said.

Provincial Chief Judge Said Hosain Najibi estimated Helmand has only a third of the 4,000 prosecutorial judges required to establish law and order. Of 13 primary court districts in Helmand, Najibi said only four were active. The weakness of the legal system in Helmand means that many residents rely on tribal dispute resolution or Taliban courts, Najibi said.

“Security conditions in Helmand are such that police cannot collect evidence,” Najibi said. “Even in Lashkar Gah the police are not able to carry out their duties because of security.”

U.S. Marines stationed at Camp Leatherneck, a massive diesel-powered regional headquarters base in Helmand, have trained about 2,400 Afghan police and soldiers. But Toolan, the NATO commander, acknowledged that most of the Afghan recruits have come from outside the province rather than Helmand’s majority Pashtun tribes.

“The Pashtuns are contributing to the insurgency and they’re probably making a good buck,” said Toolan. “So they’re saying, why join the army? It’s hard. I can make money a little bit easier by laying a couple of IEDs and spraying a patrol with a couple of rounds and drawing them into an IED attack.”

The Taliban has undermined the training process with infiltration attacks by Afghan recruits against international forces on NATO bases, including two attacks in Helmand since 2009 by renegade Afghan troops, which killed eight British soldiers. Toolan said the attacks threaten to create “an internal conflict” between NATO mentors and their trainees.

“The relationship that we had between each other – they’re eating away at it,” he said.

The Taliban also are eating away at the gossamer telecommunications networks that bind communities and struggling markets in Helmand.

For nearly all Helmandis, cellular phone service is the only service available. But coalition and Afghan officials said the insurgency threatens to shut service down in other provinces unless service is shut down in Helmand, according to Afghan and coalition officials. The phone companies oblige, and the Taliban demands payment for the limited service the companies are allowed to provide.

U.S. Marine Col. Dave Burton, NATO’s military intelligence chief in Helmand, said the practice is meant to shield insurgents from eavesdropping and from their fighters being tracked. It is also sabotage.

“We did not anticipate the negative effect that it would have on the government of Afghanistan’s ability to command and control, because really there is no infrastructure,” said Burton. “We don’t have landlines.”

One reason the Taliban fight so hard in Helmand is because they are from here. Southern Afghanistan is the homeland of the Pashtuns, who dominate the Taliban.

Another reason is because Helmand province produces more poppy than any region on earth. The United Nations says Helmand’s poppy fields alone comprise about 160,618 acres (6500 hectares) – about half Afghanistan’s opium production – and that is after a rash of poppy blight caused a 40 per cent decline since 2008.

The Helmand Plan calls for licit agriculture to sustain the economy and hobble the insurgency. But coalition-funded poppy eradication programs will affect only about three per cent of Afghanistan’s harvest this year, say drug control officials. And record high dry opium prices – ($125 a pound ($275 a kilogram) in March – are working against the plan, as are Helmand’s arid climate and dismal irrigation. Food crops like wheat and corn require far more water than poppy and yield a fraction of opium profits.

The Taliban make poppy easy. Taliban henchmen stake struggling poppy farmers, finance irrigation wells and smuggle in Iranian gasoline to power water pumps. The coalition’s goal of modernizing Helmand’s food crop distribution systems is years away, but narcotics networks are deeply rooted. The Taliban sets poppy futures markets, runs opium processing facilities, and links farmers to narco-distribution networks through Pakistan and Iran into Europe and North America.

Poppy produces profits for Helmand’s corrupt elite, but also livelihoods for many of the province’s poorest people.

The Taliban “are competing with the government for the provision of services,” said Cooling, the U.S. Marine combat operations chief in Helmand. “So they have to provide their (services) while preventing the government of Afghanistan from providing a legal replacement.”

Jamieson drives Up The Credit to victory in Pepsi North America Cup

CAMPBELLVILLE, Ont. – Jody Jamieson came through for his father Saturday night.

Jamieson drove Up The Credit to a one-length victory in the $1.5-million Pepsi North America Cup at Mohawk Racetrack. The win was the second in this event for Jamieson – he was first in ’07 with Tell All – but more importantly, he earned his father, Carl, Up The Credit’s trainer and a part-owner of the horse, his first career win in the world’s richest pacing event.

“It’s unbelievable,” an emotional Jody Jamieson said afterwards. “All I can say is, ‘Happy Father’s Day,’ dad.

“You did such a great job. It’s just unbelievable how much he has worked. I just want to show all the fans here . . . this is the 2011 Pepsi North America Up champion right here. Take a good look.”

The victory was a crowning achievement for Carl Jamieson, 60, himself a very accomplished horseman.

He recorded over 1,360 career wins and $6.3 million in earnings as a driver. As a trainer, the native of Pugwash, N.S., who now calls Princeton, Ont., home, has amassed over 900 career victories and over $20 million in prize money.

But the elder Jamieson left little doubt that Saturday’s win was the biggest of his illustrious career.

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“This means everything,” he said. “This is a new career moment for me.

“It’s surreal to win a race like this . . . it’s just great to have a special moment like this with the family. I thought we had an ace in the hold to have Jody driving him.

“But nothing bothers this horse, he just loves being here. He loves his job . . . and he can go fast.”

Jody Jamieson has successfully followed in his father’s footsteps. The 34-year-old has registered over 5,800 career victories and $79 million in earnings and twice has been named Canada’s top driver.

Up The Credit, a $72,000 yearling purchase, earned his fourth straight win and fifth in six starts this year to boost his season earnings past $880,000. Overall, the son of Western Terror has seven victories in 11 career starts and won over $920,000.

Heady stuff, indeed, for a horse that had issues with lameness last year.

“He is just an amazing horse,” Jody Jamieson said. “I said at the draw I thought my horse could go any way.

“He could go on the lead, first over, second over, it didn’t matter. I just needed to have a little bit of luck and make sure he was good. Dad had him great all week and the horse was fabulous.”

Added Carl Jamieson: “I honestly thought I was the horse to beat. I thought he was the best horse in the race.”

Up The Credit claimed the $750,000 winner’s share in 1:49.3 on a fast track. Roll With Joe was second in the 10-horse field, followed by Big Jim.

Randy Waples, the driver for Roll With Joe, was content with the second-place finish.

“Everytime you finish second you think there is something you could have done to win,” Waples said. “I was hoping at some point I could get my horse back on the front because I thought he was ready to go a big mile on the front right now.

“At the end of the day, I couldn’t be happier.”

Up The Credit, the 2/1 second choice, paid $6.60, $4.20 and $3.20 while Roll With Joe returned $9.60 and $6.80. Big Jim, a 5/1 pick, paid $4.40.

Big Jim, last year’s champion two-year-old colt pacer in both Canada and the U.S., finished out of the winner’s circle for the third straight start. But the first two of those losses were at 1-9 odds.

The remainder of the field, in order of finish, include: Foreclosure N; Big Bad John, the 9/5 favourite; Powerful Mist; Eighteen; Shadyshark Hanover; Rockabillie; and Dutch Richman.

Shadyshark Hanover came into the race as the field’s second-leading money and was a second-place finisher to Big Jim last year in both the Breeders Crown and Governor’s Cup. But trainer Erv Miller couldn’t hide his disappointment with Saturday’s result.

“I was very disappointed with him tonight,” Miller said. “Sometime has got to be wrong with him.

“There is no way he should put in an effort like that.”

On the undercard, Crys Dream captured the $519,000 Elegantimage Stakes for three-year-old filly trotters in a stakes record time of 1:53.2.

Crys Dream, the 1-5 favourite, returned $2.70, $2.10 and $2.10 while second-place finisher Beatgoeson Hanover was 2 1/2 lengths behind, paying $3.50 and $2.60. Lady Rainbow paid $3.90 in third.

Blue Porsche, the 3/5 favourite, captured the $347,000 Goodtimes Stakes for three-year-old colt trotters in 1:54.2, returning $3.20, $2.50 and $2.50.

Sim Brown, an 11-1 pick, paid $6.60 and $5.20 in second while Onrique, a 60-1 longshot, returned $14.40 in third.

Won The West raised eyebrows in the $100,000 Mohawk Cup, winning in a stunning 1:47.2, tying the fastest mile ever paced in Canada and an all-age track record.

As expected, See You At Peelers continued her winning ways in the $601,000 Fan Hanover Stakes for three-year-old filly pacers. See You At Peelers registered her 18th straight victory to remain unbeaten.

Muslim Brotherhood above ground at last but beset by rifts as Egypt seeks the democratic path

CAIRO – The night breeze blew foul wafts from a nearby canal black with garbage and pollution. The streets jammed with trucks and motorized rickshaws were so shattered that they hardly seemed paved at all.

It was to Cairo’s slum of Munib on a recent evening that the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s biggest Islamic group, brought its election campaign message: The country must turn to Islam to rebuild.

“Muslims around the world expect great things from you,” Essam el-Erian, deputy head of the Brotherhood’s new political party, told supporters crowded into a tent, with men across the aisle from women, who wore headscarves or black veils. “We have to build a nation of freedom and equality, a nation of the true Islam.”

The scene, like many in Egypt now, was inconceivable before president Hosni Mubarak’s Feb. 11 removal from power. Under Mubarak’s autocratic regime, the Brotherhood was banned. Tens of thousands of its members were arrested, many tortured, and its gatherings were held largely in secret.

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Now, with Mubarak gone, the Brotherhood is storming into the open, appealing to religious voters and trying to win over Egypt’s poor. It is likely to be part of Egypt’s next government, with a hand not only in ruling but also in writing a new constitution. Its strength has fueled fears among many Egyptians that it will turn what began as a pro-democracy uprising in the most populous Arab nation into Islamic rule.

The Brotherhood’s own identity is on the line as well, and there is pressure from inside and out for it not to go down a sharp-right Islamic road. Internally, Brotherhood moderates – many from a younger generation – are resisting control from hard-line leaders, in a struggle that could fragment the group. From the outside, a budding democracy is pushing the Brotherhood, at least in public, to present a more liberal face.

How the Brotherhood deals with its new status will be a major test of whether Islamic purists and democracy can be compatible in the aftermath of the Middle East’s wave of revolutions. With the Brotherhood involved in protests in Syria, Yemen, Libya and Jordan, the answer here could be a model across the region.

“We’re not ready for power, we don’t have the flexibility,” said Mohammed Osman, a 29-year-old pharmacist who counts himself among the Brotherhood’s new generation. “To go from prison to power, that could be extremely dangerous.”

___

In one of Cairo’s most prominent mosques, the Brotherhood’s top leader, Mohammed Badie, paused in the combination sermon-campaign speech he was delivering from an ornate niche marking the direction of Islam’s holy city of Mecca. A child next to him, with a green Brotherhood sash across his chest, took the cue to break in with a chant.

“God is great!” the boy piped up. The crowd of more than 1,000 men, seated on the carpets of the Amr ibn al-As Mosque, echoed back, “God is great, God is great!”

“Egypt’s revolution was produced by none other than God Almighty,” Badie resumed. “The days of ‘no religion in politics and no politics in religion’ ended long ago.”

The image recalls the nightmares Mubarak’s regime often evoked. Without Mubarak’s iron grip, his officials warned, the Brotherhood would seize power through the mosque. Women would be forced to wear the headscarf, clerics would hand out punishments like amputations for thieves and whippings for adulterers, and Egypt’s large Christian minority would be consigned to second-class status.

It is an image the Brotherhood is trying to shed as it adapts to the demands of a democratic system.

As Egypt races toward its first free and open parliamentary elections, planned for September, the Brotherhood’s power in the new Egypt comes down to a raw count: How many seats it wins. In this country of 80 million, Egyptians are expected to vote in unprecedented numbers. Their preferences have never been measured before.

The 90-year-old Brotherhood, with its hundreds of thousands of activists, has a leg up on more secular activists scrambling to form parties from scratch. For the first time, it has formed a political party, holding rallies nationwide, from rural towns to urban slums.

It has revved up social services that long helped build its following. In the city of Alexandria, young Brothers clean streets and fill potholes. In Kafr Mit Fatek, a tiny Nile Delta farming village, a travelling clinic of Brotherhood doctors gives families free dental work, checkups and gynecological exams.

In a sign of confidence, the group has opened a prominent new Cairo headquarters in a luxury office building proudly emblazoned with its emblem, crossed swords under a Qur’an with the word “Prepare.”

Brotherhood leaders say the new Freedom and Justice Party will run for only half of parliament’s seats so it cannot gain a majority; they predict 30-40 per cent. Nor will it field a candidate in November’s presidential election. It also is trying to form coalitions with other parties, including liberals.

El-Erian, the party’s deputy head, says parties must work together for several years to entrench a democratic system.

“Maybe after that, everyone can compete without any problems,” he told The Associated Press.

Many Brothers style their party in the mould of Turkey’s Islamic-based Justice and Development Party, which has held power for nearly a decade by improving the economy without aggressively pushing a religious agenda.

The vision they have for Egypt: a “civil state with an Islamic basis.”

It is a vague formula, and the Brotherhood is under pressure to make clear what it means. Decades of oppression provided the group an odd luxury: Barred from state-dominated media, it rarely had to sell positions to the public. It could promote broad slogans, like “Islam is the solution,” and draw support from resentment of Mubarak.

Now Brotherhood officials on Television talk shows are questioned whether they will ban alcohol or implement Islamic punishments. Their answer: It is not the time. The time may never come, they say, and if it does it will only be with voters’ consent.

In a draft, the party’s vision for a new constitution mirrors that of most liberals, a parliamentary system with limited powers for the president and guarantees of personal freedoms, a radical change to ensure that no irremovable “pharaoh” like Mubarak can rule.

Absent are past Brotherhood ideas, such as a panel of clerics to advise the government.

“We are for freedom of expression for all, even if it’s a communist, a leftist or a secularist,” says Aly Khafagy, a 29-year-old party organizer. “Ultimately, the street is the one that rules. If the street is the one that can put us in, it can also put us out.”

And “the Islamic basis?” Khafagy depicts it as a democracy that “respects Islamic values,” in the vein of U.S. conservatives who talk of America’s “Judeo-Christian heritage.” But from others it sounds far stronger.

“The Brotherhood won’t stop and won’t be silent and won’t accept anything but the complete implementation of Islamic Shariah law,” Sobhi Saleh, a former parliament member and now one of the Brotherhood’s most active campaigners, told a crowd at a rally in Cairo’s Matariya district.

At another rally weeks later, he proclaimed that the Brotherhood “doesn’t recognize liberal Muslims or secular Muslims” and vowed that the next government, “God willing, will be Islamist.”

The comments raised an uproar. Even some Brotherhood leaders distanced themselves. Opponents warned this was the true Brotherhood – intolerant, convinced it alone represents Islam and determined to rule.

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For Mohammad Osman, the pharmacist, Tahrir Square during the days of the anti-Mubarak uprising was a “Utopia.”

He and other young Brothers were in the square alongside liberal and secular protesters, in what he calls the spirit of openness of the new Brotherhood generation.

It is in contrast to the older Brotherhood leaders, bred on secrecy and tight control. Their attitude is typified in the group’s central tenet, “Listen and obey”: Once leaders make a decision, members have a near-religious duty to follow.

The rifts within the Brotherhood point to troubles in keeping together a movement that covers a range of Islamic ideologies, from the moderate to the deeply conservative. The tighter the leaders try to control, the more moderates filter away. That could make the movement more hard-line, hurting its broader public support.

Under Mubarak, unity was considered necessary for a movement under constant threat. As a result, the Brotherhood has been like a tribe.

“These are your colleagues, you study with them, you work with them, you get arrested with them. You marry from among them,” says Osman, a Brother since high school.

It cannot work that way in politics.

Osman worries election victory could bring out the worst in the Brotherhood: a domineering side, willing to go it alone. Already, he says, the group’s leadership is trying overly to control its own party.

“It’s as if they are pushing us to leave the Brotherhood,” Osman says. “But I can’t do that. I want to remain a voice of conscience within the movement.”

Despite pledges of independence, the Brotherhood has appointed the three top officers of its Freedom and Justice Party from within its own echelons. The group also prohibits Brothers from taking part in any other political party.

For Osman and some in the new generation, it felt too much like the old ways. They have decided not to participate actively in the party. A few have broken to join competing parties, or are trying to influence the party from within.

In a Nile-side social club, party members from Cairo’s sister city Giza gathered to elect their local chair. The candidates making their way to the microphone reflected the movement’s professional roots: engineers, a surgeon, a urologist, a factory owner, a woman lawyer. Several candidates were in their late 30s.

As they spoke of their goals, few mentioned Islam. Instead, they spoke of “bringing the youth into the leadership,” ”building a modern Egypt” and “working with other parties on national goals.”

Osman’s ultimate concern is that the Brotherhood’s old mindset could wreck chances for a broad-based government Egypt needs. Some Brotherhood leaders have spoken of an alliance with Egypt’s most ultraconservative movement, the Salafis, who reject anything they feel contradicts Islamic law.

The worry was palpable at the first gathering of four new secular-leaning parties. Among the crowd of more than 2,000 at a luxury hotel ballroom, the top question was whether the parties can compete with the Brotherhood.

“The time frame is frightening,” admitted Naguib Sawiris, a Christian businessman and chief founder of the Free Egyptians Party. “How do we start up a party in 90 days? I don’t sleep at night.”

The only guide to the Brotherhood’s polling strength is from 2005, when it won 20 per cent of parliament despite ruling party rigging. The assumption is it would do better in a fair race.

But after the revolution, that is far from certain, argues columnist Wael Abdel-Fattah. The Brotherhood has lost “the glamor of oppression and the protest vote,” he says. More Egyptians are politically engaged, including Christians, large parts of the middle class and business interests who worry about economic damage from a Brotherhood win.

It will likely come down to Egypt’s silent majority.

“The vast majority of the population, say 70 per cent, have nothing to do with Islamists and nothing to do with secularists,” Osman says. “Whoever wins them will be the ones who rule Egypt.”

Toronto FC surrenders late goal in losing 1-0 to ten-man Seattle Sounders

TORONTO – Conceding late goals has been a staple of Toronto FC in its brief history, and another late collapse had coach Aron Winter fuming Saturday.

Fredy Montero fired home a free kick in the 90th minute as the ten-man Seattle Sounders defeated Toronto FC 1-0 in Major League Soccer action.

The Seattle striker cleanly beat Toronto goalkeeper Stefan Frei into the top right corner after Reds defender Doniel Henry committed a foul just outside the penalty area.

“It’s incredible we lost the game. We deserved to win. We played very well and in the end we have given it away,” a stone-faced Winter said afterwards. “At that moment it’s not clever for us to foul in front of the box.”

With Toronto up a man and pressing, Henry fouled Seattle’s Mauro Rosales on a Sounders counterattack to set up Montero’s winner.

“Very frustrating. I feel like we got robbed of a pretty decent performance,” Frei said. “I don’t like the way we gave away that foul. I don’t even know if it was a foul. It’s the 90th minute, the guy goes down extremely soft. Down a man they’re looking for that.

“I think the referee falls for it.”

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Toronto (2-6-9) couldn’t take advantage of Jhon Kennedy Hurtado’s second yellow card and is now winless in eight (0-3-5). The Reds haven’t won in MLS play since a 2-1 defeat of Houston on May 7th. Seattle improved to 6-4-7.

“That goal was amazing,” Montero said. “I was looking to score in the past four or five games and I just want to keep working hard.”

The Reds came closest in the 81st minute when second-half substitute Javier Martina hammered a shot off the post before Joao Plata sent the rebound over a yawning Seattle cage.

Hurtado was harshly sent off in the 49th minute for a second yellow card after the Seattle defender clattered into Toronto FC forward Alen Stevanovic from behind.

Sounders goalkeeper Kasey Keller said his team played well after going down a man.

“I thought we played smart,” said the former U.S. international. “We rode our luck at times. They hit the post and had some other balls bounce around our box but the guys worked hard.”

The pint-sized Plata used some fancy footwork to get by a Seattle defender in the 56th minute but he couldn’t find a teammate in front of goal.

Mikael Yourassowsky was shown a yellow in the 65th but Seattle couldn’t make Toronto pay on the ensuing free kick and Frei did well to collect off the foot of an onrushing Rosales in the 75th.

Maicon Santos got on the end of a Martina cross in the 78th, but he could only head it weakly over the Seattle goal.

“It’s a tough result because we deserved the win. Not just a tie, but we deserved to win,” Frei said. “It’s going to be tough to bounce back from this. Today would have been a perfect opportunity to maybe get something going offensively.”

A spirited first half saw some decent chances on both sides but only one shot on target.

Seattle striker Mike Fucito nearly stunned the crowd of 21,839 at BMO Field in the second minute when his quick shot off a throw in beat Frei but struck the outside of the far post.

Toronto FC defender Ty Harden was cautioned in the 18th minute when he clattered into Keller off a corner. After a Santos header forced a save from Keller in the 22nd, Borman was also shown a yellow for a challenge on Rosales in the 26th.

Hurtado was cautioned in the 34th for his tackle on Yourassowsky in a dangerous area, but Stevanovic could only hit the ensuing free kick straight into the Sounders’ wall.

The Reds’ best chance of the half came in the 43rd when Nathan Sturgis’ free kick got up and over the Seattle wall but could only clip the top of Keller’s goal.

Winter’s squad is hurting with a number of injuries and the Dutchman is hoping to bring in reinforcements when the transfer window opens.

“Every week we are making improvements,” Winter said. “Right now we don’t have enough quality. We’re missing a leader on the pitch.”

Notes: Striker Alan Gordon, who scored twice in last weekend’s 2-2 draw with the L.A. Galaxy in his return from injury and was Toronto’s most dangerous player in Wednesday’s 0-0 tie at New England, didn’t even make the bench for the Reds because of an abdominal strain. … Julian de Guzman is back with Toronto FC after Canada lost out in the group stage of the Gold Cup. The Toronto-born midfielder didn’t see action Saturday. … Midfielder Tony Tchani (ankle contusion), midfielder Jacob Peterson (hamstring strain), defender Nana Attakora (quadriceps strain), defender Adrian Cann (knee sprain), midfielder Elbekay Bouchiba (knee surgery) and Gianluca Zavarise (suspended) all missed out for Toronto because of injury. Defender Dicoy Williams is on international duty with Jamaica. … Former Toronto FC striker O’Brian White (leg surgery), midfielder Steve Zakuani (leg fracture), defender Taylor Graham (calf strain), midfielder Servano Carrasco (knee contusion) and midfielder Alvaro Fernandez (hamstring strain) were out for Seattle. … Toronto’s next game is June 25 at Real Salt Lake. … Seattle next sees action Thursday at home against New York. … Coming into Saturday’s action, Toronto FC had allowed a league-high 25 goals.