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Saturday, May 26, 2018

VENEZUELA: US missionary Josh Holt, wife home after 2yrs in jail



WASHINGTON/CARACAS (Reuters) - American missionary Josh Holt, held by Venezuela without trial on weapons charges since 2016, returned home with his wife on Saturday after the South American country’s socialist government unexpectedly released him.

They were being accompanied by U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, who met on Friday with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Corker’s office said.

The freeing of the Mormon missionary from Utah came despite deepening U.S.-Venezuelan tensions that in the last week saw tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats, Washington’s refusal to recognize the May 20 re-election of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, and the imposition of new U.S. sanctions on Caracas.

Speaking at a news conference in Caracas, Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez said Holt and his wife, Thamy, were freed as part of efforts by Maduro’s government to maintain “respectful diplomatic relations” with Washington.

“This type of gesture ... allows us to consolidate what has always been our standpoint: dialogue, agreement, respect for our independence, respect for our sovereignty,” Rodriguez said.

Holt and his wife had been charged with espionage, violence and spreading activities against Venezuela’s constitutional order, he said.

Utah Senator Orrin Hatch posted video on Twitter of the pair being reunited with Holt’s parents on Saturday evening, sharing hugs and tears.

Hatch said in a statement that Holt’s release followed two years of intense lobbying, working with two presidential administrations, countless diplomatic contacts around the world, and Maduro himself.

“I could not be more honored to be able to reunite Josh with his sweet, long-suffering family,” Hatch said.

In a statement, Holt’s relatives had earlier given thanks “to all who participated in this miracle.”

A source familiar with the issue who asked to remain anonymous said there was no quid pro quo or agreement to ease U.S. sanctions tied to Holt’s release, and that Trump was not involved in the final negotiations.

SANCTIONS TO STAY

“Very glad that Josh Holt is now back home with his family – where he has always belonged,” U.S. Vice President Mike Pence wrote on Twitter. “Sanctions continue until democracy returns to Venezuela.”

Matt Whitlock, a spokesman for Hatch, said the Utah Republican called Maduro last week after hearing of riots by inmates at the intelligence agency headquarters where Holt was held. In a Facebook post during the uprising, Holt had pleaded for freedom and said people were trying to break into his cell to kill him.

“Josh had posted videos and pled for help so Senator Hatch made one final plea directly to President Maduro that set wheels in motion,” Whitlock wrote in an email to Reuters. “Chairman Corker went down mid-week to close the deal, and his staff have been instrumental in moving the ball forward.”

Venezuelan authorities arrested Holt in June 2016 while he was in Venezuela for his wedding, and he was held without trial at the headquarters of intelligence agency Sebin, a Caracas complex known as the Helicoide.

His family says Holt was framed on the weapons charges and the United States accused Caracas of using him as a bargaining chip in sanctions talks.

In televised comments earlier this month, the No. 2 official in Venezuela’s ruling Socialist Party, Diosdado Cabello, described Holt as “the head of U.S. espionage in Latin America” and said that he would remain behind bars.

The United States accuses Maduro’s government of stifling democracy, repressing the opposition and massive corruption. Maduro says Washington is conspiring to topple him and seize the OPEC member’s large oil reserves.

He blames a U.S. “economic war” for Venezuela’s fiscal woes, including hyper-inflation and food and medicine shortages that have triggered mass emigration.

UGANDA: Entire govt needs to be probed, Makerere students learn to steal

Entire government needs probing, not just lands

KAMPALA (DAILY MONITOR) -Commissions of inquiry are now a fairly common feature in Uganda. In the past 15 years, we have seen inquiries, almost always led by a (female) judge, into, among others, the police, Uganda Revenue Authority, Global Fund, and Uganda National Roads Authority.

The impact of the findings of these commissions is debatable. What is not is that they are revealing of the corrupt workings of big people and their cronies. They provide a glimpse into how Uganda works or doesn’t work.
Justice Catherine Bamugemereire, having presided over the UNRA inquiry starting in 2015, is now looking into lands.
The script is repeated. Politicians, pastors, businessmen and women, plus a host of other politically exposed persons are shown to plunder public resources for private gain.

There is a casualness to the corruption that is intriguing. You would think some arrests and convictions and previous commissions would scare the rest. Not at all. Why, because even those who have suffered any punishment, it has been minimal, not deterrent. Over time people figure that they can essentially absorb the punishment and live to enjoy the loot. But, overall, a sense of impunity has taken hold.

Those who run the government, on behalf of tens of millions of Ugandans, seem to hear a voice that tells them they are entitled to use their positions to do as they please. They believe that voice. Public resources are their personal resources; after all they are the ones in charge.

The current lands probe is demonstrating one more time how public officials treat public resources. You want a billion shillings from the land fund, why not. A letter or a word from somewhere important is enough. Then the shillings are shared all around. Just like that.

The wetlands? You can be a self-proclaimed man of God while at the same time destroy God’s creation in the form of wetlands, all in pursuit of earthly wealth. Cruel irony is for us small people.
Uganda scores quite poorly on a number of global indices compared to its neighbours and other such peers. This is inevitable because instead of a minister focusing his or her creative energies on serving Uganda, he or she focuses on the corrupt self.

To some, corruption never stopped a country from developing. Probably, except that I suspect the country could have hit various development milestones faster were it not for the grand larceny.
And the perception that we are a corrupt society is widespread and enduring, suggesting that the commissions of inquiry and what crackdown happens against the corrupt are simply not having the big effect hoped for. I would like to think that corruption has stifled investment, both foreign and domestic. It has messed up the State institutions that should be facilitating growth and transformation.

In 2002, as Justice Julia Sebutinde was beginning to look into URA, Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index had Uganda at rank 93 out of 102 countries surveyed. The latest numbers, released early this year, have us at rank 151 out of 180 countries. We are languishing down there, just like we are on a whole range of other measures.
And this is the deal: “Even more alarming, further analysis of the index results indicates that countries with the lowest protections for press and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) also tend to have the worst rates of corruption.” That’s Transparency International, in a write-up to the 2017 report.

It elaborated: “Transparency International also looked at the relationship between corruption levels and the freedom with which civic organisations are able to operate and influence public policy. The analysis, which incorporates data from the World Justice Project, shows that most countries that score low for civil liberties also tend to score high for corruption.”
I know of a certain country that fits the bill. So do you.

All right, here is what Mr Peter Eigen, chair of Transparency International, said when the 2002 rankings were released: “Corrupt political elites in the developing world, working hand-in-hand with greedy business people and unscrupulous investors, are putting private gain before the welfare of citizens and the economic development of their countries.”
Every sector you look at could do with a commission of inquiry. The rot is so widespread we actually need the entire government probed. To what end? Well… let’s probe the whole thing first.

University students must learn to steal food

DAILY MONITOR - I don’t know what is wrong with students, especially university students. They are such a pain.  If I believed in demons, I would have said that the moment our university gates are thrown open and the students flock in, God or his Son goes out on a hunt around the city, as well as door to door through the country’s mental asylums, capturing as many demons as He can stuff in His holy bag, before invading the campus in question and unleashing the spirit nasties among the students.

I remember one crazy day when I was a university student (you may not believe it, but I was once a university student), I and hundreds of other students stormed the city and attacked every creature on the streets that looked like a White hominid.
Because of some unjust action that had been perpetrated by the then apartheid regime in South Africa, we assumed (or at least acted as if) every White hominid walking or driving on Kampala’s streets was an enemy of every blinking Black hominid. We were so stupid!

Many years later, I still do not understand who university students think they are. Now they want food for a full stomach; or, instead, enough money to buy three square meals. And all that in this land, the pearl of abominable holes discovered by one Mr Trump!

Food. In those ancient days, I remember the late Sulaiman Kiggundu, who later distinguished himself as a scholar, Bank of Uganda governor and Greenland Bank honcho. During Kiggundu’s failed campaign to become guild president, he was greeted in the Northcote Hall dining-room by a din of heckling inspired by UPC/Obote anti-Baganda hatred.
Kiggundu waded through a furious storm of food missiles. When he came out, the whole of his head and striped grey suit were dripping with gravy and lumps of rice and exploded Irish potatoes.

It was an extraordinary sight. Most of those ageing fat ‘ndugus’, doctrinaire ‘comrades’, ‘revolutionaries’ and all manner of liberators, who are now imposing a frugal existence on students and every Ugandan except themselves, were beneficiaries in the times of tax-funded abundance and food abuse at university.
But times change. This is the Age of the Thief. To achieve one’s objectives, one is generally expected to steal, especially from public funds.

At a function in Kigali, President Museveni was once reported to have turned to his host, president Paul Kagame, and (with pride or sadness?) inquired whether Rwanda had as many thieves as Uganda.
When doctors, teachers and other government-employed professionals demand enough pay to sustain even a basic bread-without-butter existence, the ruling NRM solution is to import higher-paid Cuban expatriates.

The Ugandans, I suppose, are expected to steal drugs, stationery, or cheat in other indirect ways to make ends meet.
In the Age of the Thief, understandably, university halls of residence cannot properly prepare meals for the students who reside there. Half of everything in the catering system gets stolen. So, why not give the students cash?
With a huge chunk of government expenditure already going to theft and official extravagance, the government has reportedly proposed giving only Shs4,500 for a day’s meals to every student on government sponsorship.

Hardly the purse for three square meals. Shs4,500 will buy one bland meal in a dingy place in university neighbourhoods.
You are protesting? Who are you, students, not to live like other Ugandans? If you cannot steal any-which-way to get your three square meals, our ageing revolutionaries may consider replacing you with Cuban students.

FRANCE: Fierce blaze in Bordeaux forces evacuations - VIDEO


BBC - Dozens of firefighters have been tackling a blaze in a residential area of Bordeaux, in south-western France.

The fire, which broke out in a car dealership near Rue Fondaudège, threatened nearby homes and several buildings were evacuated, local media report. No injuries were reported immediately.
Some explosions were heard, believed to be the fuel tanks of cars trapped in the flames.

BURUNDI: 20e Sommet du COMESA / BURUNDI: 20th COMESA Summit



THE ENGLISH VERSION FOLLOWS THE FRENCH ONE

BUJUMBURA (IWACU) - Difficile de comprendre la communication qui se fait entre Bujumbura et le secrétariat général du Comesa, Marché commun de l’Afrique orientale et australe.

Pendant plus d’une année, Bujumbura se prépare à accueillir le Sommet des Chefs d’Etat de la Communauté. Tout est mis en œuvre et les autorités ne lésinent pas sur les moyens. Ce qui est normal, quand un pays accueille une rencontre d’une telle ampleur.

Ainsi, des panneaux et banderoles annonçant la tenue du Sommet sont fixés sur quelques grandes artères, les drapeaux des Etats membres du Comesa flottent le long de la route menant à l’aéroport international de Bujumbura, des hôtels sont rénovés, des véhicules de l’Etat réquisitionnés. Les dates sont connues. On attend le jour « J ».

Et voilà que le 21 mai, une correspondance du secrétaire général du Comesa au ministre burundais du Commerce, de l’Industrie et du Tourisme vient doucher l’effervescence de Bujumbura. Elle annonce « qu’en raison de circonstances imprévues », le sommet est reporté vers Lusaka en juillet 2018.

Bujumbura rétorque que «les fonctionnaires de l’organisation n’ont aucune prérogative de changer le lieu du déroulement. Cela incombe aux chefs d’Etat du Comesa». Dixit le secrétaire général du gouvernement de la République du Burundi. Bujumbura dit « poursuivre les préparatifs ».

Comme disait avec un peu d’humour quelqu’un « même un Chinois et un ouvrier burundais finissent par se comprendre sur le chantier ». Car depuis ce courrier annonçant la délocalisation, nous allons basculer dans une autre dimension, dans la confusion la plus totale, le non-dit, les interprétations.
Les réseaux sociaux ne sont pas en reste. Les comptes twitter des autorités vont entrer en activité. Sur son compte twitter, l’ombudsman burundais ne mâche pas ses mots : «L’accueil du sommet est un droit et non une faveur destinée à prouver au monde que nous avons la paix. »

Dans cet imbroglio, il y a tout de même un fait : ce courrier envoyé aux autorités burundaises.
Admettons que Bujumbura pourrait déplorer la forme. Mais les autorités burundaises devraient également noter que « les Chefs d’Etat » du Comesa, en tout cas au moment où nous mettons sous presse, n’ont pas encore remis en question la correspondance qu’elles fustigent.

Au lieu de continuer les préparatifs, comme si de rien n’était, ce qui peut apparaître comme un déni de la réalité, Bujumbura serait mieux inspiré d’user des canaux diplomatiques classiques pour comprendre les vraies raisons derrière cette délocalisation. En langage diplomatique, il y a un message. Ce serait une question à poser aux chefs d’Etat . Directement. Les yeux dans les yeux.

BURUNDI: 20th COMESA Summit

BUJUMBURA (IWACU) - Difficult to understand the communication that occurs between Bujumbura and the Secretariat General of COMESA, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa. 

For over a year, Bujumbura is preparing to host the Summit of the Community of Heads of State. Everything is implemented and the authorities do not skimp on the means. What is normal when a country hosts an event of such magnitude. 

Thus, signs and banners announcing the Summit are fixed on some major arteries, the flags of Comesa Member States float along the road to Bujumbura international airport, hotels are renovated, vehicles of State requisitioned. The dates are known. Waiting for the "D" day.

And now May 21, a letter from the Secretary General of COMESA to the Burundian Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism has showered the excitement of Bujumbura. She announced that "due to unforeseen circumstances," the summit is postponed to Lusaka in July 2018. 

Bujumbura replies that "the organization's officials have no prerogative to change the location of the course. It is the responsibility of heads of state Comesa. " Dixit Secretary General of the Government of the Republic of Burundi. Bujumbura says "continue preparations".

As said with some humor someone "even a Chinese and a Burundian workers end up understanding on the construction site." Because since the letter announcing the relocation, we'll switch to another dimension, in total confusion, not said, interpretations. 
Social networks are no exception. The twitter account of the authorities will become operational. On his twitter account, the Burundian ombudsman does not mince words: "The top of the home is a right and not a favor intended to prove to the world that we have peace. 

In this imbroglio, there is still a fact that mail sent to the Burundian authorities.
Say Bujumbura could lament the form. But the Burundian authorities should also be noted that "Heads of State" Comesa, at least at the time of going to press, have not yet questioned the correspondence they criticize. 

Instead of continuing the preparations as if nothing had happened, what may appear as a denial of reality, Bujumbura would be better advised to use the classic diplomatic channels to understand the real reasons behind the relocation. In diplomatic language, there is a message. It would be a question to ask the heads of state. Directly. Eye to eye.

TANZANIA: Lake Manyara National Park full documentary - VIDEO



Planet Doc Full Documentaries Published on 24 Feb 2018

Following the formation of the Rift Valley two or three million years ago, currents of water began to descent along the walls of the gigantic escarpment to form a lake. Although its greatest extension took place some 250,000 years ago, the lake still exists today and, under the protection of the Rift from which it received water, has generated a mosaic of diverse habitats offering refuge to wildlife. Between the escarpment and the salty waters of Lake Manyara there are thick rain forests, acacia forests, savannahs and wetlands with their own particular flora and fauna. There are few places in Africa where one can find in scarcely 300 square kilometres the variety of ecosystems found in the Lake Manyara area, one of the most beautiful national parks in Tanzania. The lake, measuring 390 square kilometres, occupies 230 of the national park’s 330 square kilometres. The Manyara area has a very unstable level of rainfall, which varies between 250 and 1,200 mm. per year, which causes years of intense draught followed by heavy flooding. With these fluctuations it would be impossible to develop the jungle and rain forest bordering the lake, but Manyara receives the waters which spring forth from the base of the ridge and are filtered through the 600 metres of uneven land from the highlands of Ngorongoro. The rain forest is populated by a very high number of animal species, although the number of individual specimens of each species is lower than that found in open areas. Camouflaged amidst the dense vegetation, the Manyara forest houses an authentic collection of Tanzanian snakes. Many of them are inoffensive to man but some, although timid and evasive, have a mortal bite. The green mamba is one of the most venomous snakes on the entire African continent. Although not as powerful as that of the black mamba, the venom of this mamba acts quickly. Just before reaching the lake, the Simba River forms a natural pool where a group of hippopotami live permanently. The place, known as the hippo-pool, shelters the great animals during the hottest hours of the day. Despite their size and strength, the hippopotami’s skin is very sensitive to the sun’s rays and so they protect themselves by spending the day submerged in water. The name Manyara comes from an indigenous word. The Masai use the word manyara to refer to an euphorbia with which they raise palisades to protect their livestock. It is a harder and more resistant plant than any other hawthorn they use in their bomas and protects the livestock contained inside better than any other. In the same way, the Manyara National Park protects a mosaic of ecosystems which represent the biological variability of Tanzania and give shelter to the animal species living there. Today, this former hunting preserve has become an inviolable refuge for the animal species which, not long ago, attracted hunters from all over the world.

KENYA: Govt gives foreign workers 2 months to register or will be deported - VIDEO (so much for EAC integration)


Kenya moves to flush out illegal foreign workers

THE EAST AFRICAN-Kenyan immigration authorities this past week began fresh registration and issuance of work permits to foreigners to weed out illegal foreign workers.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i said illegal workers cost the economy millions of dollars in unpaid taxes and deportation costs every year.

As at Wednesday, 13 people with fake work permits had been nabbed in the 60-day registration drive that began on Monday.

“If we have nabbed 13 people by the third day, there are indeed many people with illegal work permits in this country,” Dr Matiang’i said.

At the launch of the registration, the minister said there were more than 100,000 foreign workers in Kenya, way more than the 34,000 foreigners registered with the Foreign Ministry.

Expatriates are required to verify their details at the Directorate of Immigration using a valid work permit, an official endorsement on the passport, an alien ID and a Kenya Revenue Authority Personal Identification Number.

The ministry is also preparing to issue foreigners with foolproof electronic cards as work permits to reduce the paperwork and to improve efficiency.

“The country loses a lot due to unpaid taxes, job opportunities going to illegal foreigners at the expense of citizens, terrorists capitalising on this loophole to carry out their atrocious activities in the country, and expenses incurred in deportation,” Dr Matiang'i said.

He said the government spends up to $3.6 million every year to deport illegal foreign workers.

According to Dr Matiang'i the majority of the foreign workers in the country are doing jobs that can be done by Kenyans thus worsening the country’s unemployment situation, which is estimated to be at about 40 per cent.

Expatriates now have to update their details with the department of Immigration, after which a swoop would be carried out to flush out those who are working in the country illegally.

“After the 60 days, if you do not have the legal work documents you will be arrested and locked up. From there, you will have to find your own means of coming up with the amount needed to get back to your country,” Dr Matiang'i warned.

According to statistics by the Immigration Department, 8,366 new work permits were issued to foreigners in 2017, a slight increase from the 5,851 permits given in 2016.

FOOTBALL: Real Madrid beat Liverpool 3-1 in Champions League final


DW - Gareth Bale came off the bench and did the damage for Real Madrid, including a sublime overhead kick moments after his substitution. In the Liverpool goal, Germany's Loris Karius had a night to forget.
Full match report to follow shortly, all the action as it happened below in our live ticker. 
FULL TIME. Real Madrid win the Champions League for a third time in a row.
90+3' — Ronaldo making his way through on goal as a fan charges into the penalty area, being promptly rugby tackled by a steward.
90+1' — Feels like we're just marking time at this point. Three additional minutes; Loris Karius still presumably hoping for the ground in front of his goal line to swallow him up.
88' — Another sub for Real, Asensio replaces Benzema up front. Just before Bale's second goal, German international Emre Can replaced Milner for Liverpool.
83' — GOAL! Real Madrid 3-1 Liverpool. Gareth Bale. It's not a good night to be Loris Karius. Gareth Bale with a speculative shot from miles out, Loris Karius flaps at it and it slithers from his grasp into the goal.
82' — Mane booked for a frustrated foul on Ramos. A bit of revenge for his buddy Salah too, perhaps.
82' — Good save from Karius to deny Ronaldo, arriving at the back post.
79' — Spaces are opening up late in the game but neither side seems to have enough fuel left in the tank to exploit them, judging by the las few minutes. Real seem to have more than one eye on the clock, while Liverpool have been struggling to keep hold of the ball.
74' — Ronaldo breaks free in the box, looking to put the game to bed. But Andy Robertson gets in a huge tackle to put him off his shot.
73' — Firmino's appealing for a penalty for handball but to no avail. It did hit Casemiro's elbow, but would have been a fiercely cruel call.
69' — Sadio Mane rattles Real's post! His left-footer from around 18 yards out just wouldn't turn inside the post. There's life in this one yet.
64' — GOAL! Real Madrid 2-1 Liverpool. Gareth Bale with a bicycle kick to remember. Within minutes of coming into the game, he elevates and loops Marcelo's cross into the top corner.
Real Madrid's Gareth Bale scores their second goal with a overhead kick (Reuters/K. Pfaffenbach)
Bale had so little time to decide on and execute a bicycle kick
60' — Karius with a strong save low to his left there, as the goalie seeks to make amends for his Benzema blunder. And, speaking of top knots, Gareth Bale is coming on for Real, replacing Isco.
56' — Jürgen Klopp, never one for a low key touchline celebration, let it all vent after those five hectic minutes, leaping around and pumping his fist after the goal.
55' — The Reds claw one back from a corner. Milner delivered, Lovren headed back across the box, and Mane slid in to put the ball home. As you were, gentlemen.
 
 
4 - Sadio Mané 🇸🇳 is only the 4th African player to score in a European Cup/Champions League final after:🇩🇿 Rabah Madjer 🇨🇲 Samuel Eto'o 🇨🇮 Didier Drogba Diamond. @LFC
55'  GOAL! Real 1-1 Liverpool. Sadio Mane.
51' — Good grief, you don't see that every day. Karius collects a loose ball in the Liverpool goal, and tries to roll it straight out to his right back. Benzema read the keeper's mind and stuck his leg out, making contact with the ball and redirecting it into the net. Horrible moment for the keeper.
51' — GOAL! Real 1-0 Liverpool. Karim Benzema.
47' — Crossbar! Isco hits the bar after 30 seconds of slapstick stuff from Liverpool. Lovren, Alexander-Arnold and Lovren again all played their parts in ensuring Real had a shot at goal.
46' — We're off again. Second half begins.
HT analysis: Tears, but not that many thrills in the opening period. Those 45 minutes will stay in the memory mainly for the injuries to Mohamed Salah and Dani Carvajal. Nacho very nearly used his chance off the bench within seconds of joining the fray for Carvajal. England international Adam Lallana, recovering from a long-term injury, also has a major chance on the biggest stage that he may not have been expecting tonight. On the pitch, the early phases of play belonged to Liverpool, while the last 10 minutes of the half was one-way traffic for Real.
Liverpool fans sang YNWA at half time. They need a huge effort from their team in the second half. How much did they expend in that first 45?
HALF TIME. Real Madrid 0-0 Liverpool.
45+3' — Shot Benzema, the tank got rolling in the final third and saw a chance to fire his big cannon. A well-hit strike, but wide of the mark. Klopp won't have enjoyed the last few moments of this half.
45+2' — Corner for Real as they turn the screws before the break. Kroos takes it, but Andy Robertson heads clear at the near post.
45' — Sub Nacho arrives unmarked at the back post and volleys into the side netting. Strong finish to the half for Real.
42' — Disallowed goal for Real Madrid! Offside flag calls it back. Ronaldo's header was only parried by Karius and Benzema followed it in. We're not 100 percent on which Real player was offside, Ronaldo or Benzema. Both were tight calls.
38' — So, it's time to take stock "sans Salah." Lallana seems to have taken up Mane's spot on the left wing and Mane has moved across to Salah's right flank. With the ball, no notable change in shape from Liverpool.
36' — Substitution: Nacho replaces Dani Carvajal. Liverpool are down an attacker, Real are down a defender.
35' — Dani Carvajal is the next player to have taken a knock, after Andy Robertson clipped his heels with his studs.
31' — Substitution Liverpool: Salah off, Lallana on. Half the world tears up their "Salah to score" betting slips.
Ukraine, Kiew: Champions League Finale : Mohamed Salah verletzt (Imago/Gribaudi)
It looked like the damage was done when Ramos landed on Salah after the incident
29' — Salah's on the ground again, it's looking like Liverpool's star attacker won't be seeing out the season's grand finale. Adam Lallana's warming up. A tearful Salah is escorted off by the physio after a brief Klopp hug.
28' — Salah's back on, still holding his shoulder.
26' — Salah off, holding his shoulder, after tumbling with Sergio Ramos. The big Spaniard landed on the little Egyptian king, and there is a weight imbalance there.
23' — Two good chances for the Reds; Milner found Firmino in the box, whose shot was blocked. Trent Alexander-Arnold followed up on the loose ball; his shot was kept low and on target but wasn't enough to truly test Navas.
22' — Milner trips Carvajal, no card.
19' — Vigil van Dijk gets his head to a Liverpool corner ahead of goalie Navas, but can't keep the ball down.
15' — Cristiano Ronaldo's first big chance, made by some fine work from Dani Carvajal. He blasted the ball over the bar. Andy Robertson will thank his teammates, after he was skinned on the half-way line by Carvajal to carve out the opening.
14' — Navas punches clear after a period of Liverpool pressure with no real end product. But the quick Reds attacks are unsettling the Spanish giants.
13' — Free kick Liverpool as Kroos fouls Mane. It looked painful, but not malicious — the ref just gives Kroos a talking-to.
11' — Real's left back Marcelo wriggles free in midfield and tries a shot from range, not unlike the one he netted against Bayern in the semis. But he drags it wide of the post.
7' — Scary moment for Keylor Navas, coming to claim a bobbling ball as Salah and Alexander-Arnold bear down on him in the Real goal. Strong start to the game from the Reds.
6' — Liverpool tried a fancy set piece, with Milner squaring the ball so Salah could shoot. It wasn't executed that slickly, and Real's defense were able to block the shot.
4' — First chance for a decent cross falls to Liverpool's homegrown youngster Trent Alexander-Arnold. His delivery didn't pose much of a threat. Second later, Salah wins a free kick after a foul by Marcelo.
2' — Offside flag breaks up Real's first dangerous attack. Loris Karius dived to punch the ball clear, but his defense did not have to worry about the loose ball as Mazic blew his whistle.
KICK OFF!
20:42 — Pennants exchanged, time for the coin toss. Cameras catch Salah in a pregame prayer, and Kroos fixing his hair.
20:40 — Players in the tunnel. Captains Jordan Henderson and Sergio Ramos share a handshake. Ronaldo looking pensive, number 11 Mo Salah at the back of the Liverpool queue, to walk out 11th.
20:34 — Barely 10 minutes remain, and some scantily-clad ladies in pink are doing a thing with a rapper in the pregame show. Meanwhile, in more important matters, Serbia's Milorad Mazic will be the referee this evening.
20:25 — Huddersfield's manager David Wagner, Klopp's former second-team coach at Borussia Dortmund, is in the stadium, talking to Germany's Sky Sports. Asked what's possible for Liverpool, he says: "I think anything's possible. The game's totally open. (...) I certainly don't think it will finish 0-0."
20:15 — Half an hour until kickoff in Kyiv. Time for us on the sports desk this evening to make fools of ourselves and offer up our predictions.
  • Our social media wizard Felix Tamsut has it as 3-2 Real Madrid in 90 minutes.
  • Michael da Silva in Berlin is "going with my heart over my head," saying Liverpool, 2-1, after extra time.
  • And I (Mark Hallam) will go for Real Madrid, 3-1 in regular time. But that's mainly out of a silly superstition that I never predict a win for teams close to my heart.
20:03 — If you're looking for the dark horses in Liverpool's side to keep an eye on, you could do worse than focusing on James Milner in midfield and left back Andrew Robertson. Milner has more assists (9) than any other player in the history of the competition. As for Robertson, he was a fairly low-profile summer signing for around 8 million pounds (roughly €9 million, $10.5 million) but has developed in leaps and bounds this season. The Scot has plugged a crucial hole for Liverpool, actually freeing Milner up to return to his natural midfield home after spending much of the past two seasons covering the left back spot.
19:52 — If you fancy some borderline sacrilege before kickoff, we also took a look at the several similarities that bind Liverpool's current Swabian manager with the club's most famous Scottish mastermind, Bill Shankly.
19:50 — This chap, Toni Kroos, could pick up his fourth Champions League title tonight, having won in 2013 with Bayern Munich and the last two seasons at Real. Not bad work for a 28-year-old — and it would be a record for a German in the Champions League/European Cup.
HalaMadrid!
19:40 — Real, meanwhile, line up with Benzema and Ronaldo in attack. Gareth Bale is only on the bench, making space for Isco, Modric, Casemiro and Toni Kroos. That's looking like a hard night's work for Liverpool's midfield containing all that creativity.
19:36 — It's starting lineup time! No surprises in the Liverpool XI. Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane lead the line. German international Emre Can, who was thought to be ruled out of the game with injury, has made a speedy recovery, but is only on the bench.
19:33 — One trouble spot for Klopp at Liverpool has been between the sticks. He's flitted between Loris Karius and Simon Mignolet ever since the German joined from Mainz in 2016. But it's Karius minding the goal tonight in surely the biggest game of the uncapped 24-year-old's career. You can read more about his sometimes turbulent time in red here:  Loris Karius: Liverpool's thick-skinned first-choice keeper
19:28 — Fancy a whistle stop tour, in pictures, through Jürgen Klopp's footballing career? Say no more...
19:21 — Hard to predict how things might evolve this evening. Both Real and Liverpool tend to attack rather better than they defend, a promising sign for the neutrals, but then finals have a habit of being tense and nervy affairs. What's certain is that Liverpool's supporters have been keeping themselves entertained in Kyiv.
Liverpool supporters celebrate in central Kyiv ahead of the Champions League final, 26.05.2018. (picture-alliance/dpa/A. Kravchenko)
Reds fans last won the Champions League in 2005, and were on the losing end in the 2007 final; both games were against AC Milan
19:08 — What's so special about the 2012 German Cup? Well, it was the last final a Klopp team won, smashing Bayern Munich 5-2 and claiming the German double. But since then, Klopp's teams have been beaten in a total of five finals. Still, the German has a trademark response to talk of this curse: "If you want guarantees then don't qualify for a final. Stay at home or go on holiday! It is not nice when you lose a final, but I will always try again."
19:06 — Zinedine Zidane's feeling confident, Jürgen Klopp wants to show his team that bravery's best in the big games. Watch more here:
Watch video01:39

Stage set for Champions League showdown in Kiev

 
19:04 — Here's some recommended reading designed to get you in the mood. First up, a look at the key players for bookmakers' favorites Real.
19:02 — Tonight's game in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv is a replay of the 1981 European Cup final, which ended 1-0 in Liverpool's favor at Paris' Parc des Princes.
19:00 — Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the 2018 Champions League final. Real Madrid take on Liverpool, seeking a hat trick of Champions League wins. Meanwhile, Jürgen Klopp's Reds play the role of dangerous underdogs, as the German manager seeks to end a run of five finals without a win at Dortmund and then Liverpool.