Archive for Monday, December 11, 2006

Nobel Prize winners accept awards at ceremonies in Sweden, Norway

December 11, 2006

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— Economist Muhammad Yunus accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on Sunday for his breakthrough program to lift the poor through tiny loans, saying he hoped the award would inspire "bold initiatives" to eradicate a problem at the root of terrorism.

Yunus, a Bangladeshi, shared the award with his Grameen Bank, which for more than two decades has helped impoverished people start businesses by providing small loans known as microcredit.

"We must address the root causes of terrorism to end it for all time," Yunus told hundreds of guests at City Hall in Oslo, Norway. "I believe putting resources into improving the lives of poor people is a better strategy than spending it on guns."

In his speech, Yunus also warned about the potential costs of globalization without help for the world's poor.

"To me, globalization is like a hundred-lane highway crisscrossing the world," Yunus said. "If it is a free-for-all highway, its lanes will be taken over by the giant trucks from powerful economies. Bangladeshi rickshaws will be thrown off the highway."

"Rule of 'strongest takes it all' must be replaced by rules that ensure that the poorest have a place and piece of the action, without being elbowed out by the strong," he said.

The Nobel laureates for literature, physics, economics and chemistry accepted their awards Sunday at a ceremony in Stockholm.

The Nobel Prizes, announced in October, are always presented in the two Scandinavian capitals on Dec. 10 to mark the anniversary of the 1896 death of their creator, Alfred Nobel. The Swedish industrialist, who invented dynamite, stipulated the dual ceremonies in his will. The awards, first handed out in 1901, carry $1.4 million in prize money.

The literature prize went to Orhan Pamuk, a Turkish writer accused of insulting his country, while six Americans swept the science and economics prizes.

The Nobel Prize in medicine went to Andrew Z. Fire and Craig C. Mello for discovering a powerful way to turn off the effect of specific genes.

John C. Mather and George F. Smoot won the physics prize for work that helped cement the "big bang" theory of how the universe was created.

Roger D. Kornberg won the prize in chemistry for his studies of how cells take information from genes to produce proteins, a process that could provide insight into defeating cancer and advancing stem cell research. His 88-year-old father, Arthur, who won the 1959 Nobel Prize in medicine, attended the ceremony.

Economics winner Edmund S. Phelps was cited for research into the relationship between inflation and unemployment, giving governments better tools to formulate economic policy. The economics award is not an original Nobel Prize, but was created by the Bank of Sweden in 1968.

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