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Sina Odugbemi's blog

Quote of the Week: David Brooks

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David Brooks"Politics is the process of making decisions amid diverse opinions. It involves conversation, calm deliberation, self-discipline, the capacity to listen to other points of view and balance valid but competing ideas and interests."

- David Brooks, a New York Times Op-Ed columnist, who writes about politics, culture and the social sciences. He has also written several books, including The Road to Character, The Social Animal, and Bobos in Paradise.

Quote of the week: Novak Djokovic

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Novak Djokovic“Everyone feels fear. I don’t trust a man who says he has no fear. But fear is like a passing cloud in the sky. After it passes, there is a clear blue sky... If you can channel it in the right way, fear will turn to strength.”

- Novak Djokovic, a Serbian professional tennis player who is currently ranked world No. 1 in men's singles tennis by the Association of Tennis Professionals.  He is generally considered to be one of the greatest tennis players of all time and a top 5 player in the Open Era (since 1968). Djokovic has won 10 Grand Slam singles titles and has held the No. 1 spot in the ATP rankings for a total of 172 weeks.

A Life Adventured: The migrant/refugee

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In the current migration and refugee crisis, is scale trumping humanity?

Refugee crisis in EuropeSomething about the way the story of the ongoing epic migration and refugee crisis is being told perturbs. Scale trumps humanity. Overwhelmingly, the focus is on the sheer girth and amplitude of the crisis. Mind-numbing statistics tumble from the mouth of broadcasters, and the cameras pan over and around scenes of multitudes on the move almost the same way that documentary makers film the flight of sky-darkening flocks of migratory birds or the earthquake mimicking stampede of wild bulls across a great river. The tragedies that occur with saddening frequency are anonymous: another boat sinks in the Mediterranean, hundreds are dead. We don’t see victims; we don’t know them. We see pictures of the flotsam and jetsam, of the foul detritus of failed voyages. And the cameras move on.

Until the picture of the lifeless body of little Aylan Kurdi on a Turkish beach turns up and the world is stunned and horrified. For instance, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi of Italy recently told Fareed Zakaria of CNN that that picture transformed policymaking in parts of Europe from indifferent to totally engaged. That, I would argue, is because that picture foregrounded a powerful truth.

What is this truth? It is this: while this migration and refugee crisis might be on a biblical scale, it is still about discrete, distinct, singular human lives. Each one of these people on the move is an individual, a bundle of consciousness, a brain, emotions, feelings, deep needs and aspirations, parents, families, friends, the whole nine yards. Above all, the truth is that each one of these individuals has chanced, gambled her life. In other words, each life caught up in this crisis is a life adventured. And when a human life is adventured a tragic ending is often the result.

Quote of the week: Sepp Blatter

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Sepp BlatterMy reputation is spoiled, because I was bitterly attacked, as responsible for everything. But it will not damage my legacy.

- Sepp Blatter, in reference to the corruption scandal that has damaged both the reputation of himself and FIFA and the enduring FIFA Goal development program, which has built more than 700 facilities for its member associations around the world and provides funding for “essential football projects” including pitches, technical centers, youth academies and IT. The development program was launched in 1998, the year that Blatter became President of FIFA. This work, he believes, will outlast the corruption charges.

Swiss prosecutors have accused Mr Blatter of criminal mismanagement or misappropriation over a TV rights deal and of a "disloyal payment" to European football chief Michel Platini. US authorities have indicted a total of 14 current and former FIFA officials and associates on charges of "rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted" corruption following a major inquiry by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Quote of the week: Ben Bernanke

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Ben Bernanke“Individually rational behaviour can be collectively irrational. And that’s why the regulators have to do what they can to constrain individual behaviour, so that it doesn’t lead to collectively irrational outcomes.”

- Ben Bernanke, an American economist currently working at the Brookings Institution. He served two terms as chairman of the Federal Reserve, the central bank of the United States, from 2006 to 2014. During his time as chairman, Bernanke oversaw the Federal Reserve's response to the late-2000s financial crisis. Bernanke wrote in his 2015 book, The Courage to Act, that the world's economy came close to collapse in 2007 and 2008 and that it was only the innovative efforts of the Federal Reserve, in cooperation with other agencies and agencies of foreign governments, that prevented an economic disaster greater than the Great Depression.  Prior to serving as chairman of the Federal Reserve, Bernanke was a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System from 2002-2005 and proposed the Bernanke Doctrine concerning the source of deflation.  

Has the governance agenda lost its mojo globally?

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Romanian RevolutionWhen I started work in international development in London in the late 1990s, a more experienced colleague gave me the following insight. At some point, she said, I would either catch the bug and stay in the field or I would not and leave it to go and do something else. And it is usually some agenda within the broad field that would get you hooked, she added. She was right. I caught the bug and stayed in the field, and the agenda that excited my passion was and remains governance: efforts to improve governance systems in developing countries in order to do real and permanent good. The reason was obvious. I had moved to London from Lagos, Nigeria, having participated actively in the public affairs of the country; and I had left thoroughly convinced that unless governance improved in Nigeria there was no way that the abundance in the country would lead to improved welfare for the vast majority of its citizens. That remains my conviction.

In those days working on governance issues was exciting; for, it was like joining an army on the march, one that appeared ready to sweep everything before it. There was definite intellectual energy in the field. Practitioners had poise and confidence. Initiatives were being dreamt up by different donor agencies. Funds were pouring into the field. And we began to see a new breed of development professional: the so-called ‘governance advisers’. But behind it all, I suppose, was a powerful zeitgeist: the Berlin Wall was down, communism was on the ropes, and liberal constitutional democracy appeared to have triumphed with resounding finality.

But now, in late 2015, it all feels very different globally. In the words of the B.B. King classic: ‘The thrill is gone’.

Quote of the week: Justin Trudeau

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Justin Trudeau“Conservatives are not our enemy. They are our neighbours.”

-Justin Trudeau, a Canadian politician and the prime minister-designate of Canada. When sworn in, he will be the first child of a previous prime minister to hold the post; he is the eldest son of the 15th Prime Minister of Canada, Pierre Trudeau, and Margaret Trudeau. Trudeau was elected in the 2008 federal election to represent Papineau in the House of Commons. He won the 2013 Liberal Party leadership election, and in 2015 federal election, he lead the Liberals to a majority victory, moving the party from third-place with 36 seats to first place with 184 seats. It was the largest-ever numerical increase by a party in a Canadian election.

Quote of the week: Kenneth Branagh

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Kenneth Branagh“I am very happy to go missing. I take myself out of the electronic loop as often as I can. I am not a fast responder. I do search for the silence.”

-Kenneth Branagh, a director, producer, and screenwriter from Belfast, Northern Ireland. At 29, he directed and starred in the film Henry V (1989), which brought him Best Actor and Best Director Oscar nominations.  In April 2015, he announced he would form the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company, with which he will present a season of five shows (The Winter's Tale, Harlequinade/All On Her Own, The Painkiller, Romeo and Juliet and The Entertainer) at London's Garrick Theatre from October 2015 - November 2016.

Quote of the week: Jancis Robinson

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Jancis Robinson at a Financial Times Charity Wine Dinner in 2010"Since word of mouth is the most powerful sales tool in the world, its power amplified exponentially by social media, what is the role of those of us who make our living giving out expert advice in this new, democratic, much more populated landscape of opinion?"

- Jancis Robinson, a British wine critic, journalist and editor of wine literature. She currently writes a weekly column for the Financial Times, and writes for her website She also provides advice for the wine cellar of Queen Elizabeth II. She is also responsible for many of the standard reference books on wine, including The Oxford Companion to Wine and, with Hugh Johnson, The World Atlas of Wine.

Quote of the Week: Matteo Renzi

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Matteo Renzi"We’re a young team— we want to invest in the new generation— but we’re not simply a young team.  Youth is the man of whatever age who risks believing in the possibility of change.”

- Matteo Renzi, Prime Minister of Italy since February 2014. Previously, he was the President of Florence Province from 2004 to 2009 and the Mayor of Florence from 2009 to 2014. At the age of 39 years and 42 days, he is the youngest Italian Prime Minister since unification in 1861 (he was younger than Benito Mussolini when he took office in 1922 by 52 days).  He is also the first to be elected Prime Minister as a Mayor and the second youngest leader in the European Council.