Nobel laureates accept awards in Sweden, Norway

Monday, December 11, 2006

STOCKHOLM, Sweden -- 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 66-year-old Bangladeshi, shared the award with his Grameen Bank, which for more than two decades has helped impoverished people start businesses by providing small, usually unsecured 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.

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. Their findings broke new ground in genetic research and explored the relationship between inflation and unemployment.

U.S. researchers have long dominated the science awards, and this year swept them for the first time since 1983.

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.

Nobel physics committee chairman Per Carlson said that with their findings, "the first step toward understanding the development of structures in the universe had been taken."

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.

In Bangladesh, thousands of people set aside the nation's latest political crisis to watch live television coverage of the ceremony in Oslo.

In Yunus' home district of Chittagong, several thousand people squatted or stood around a large screen put up at a stadium. People clapped and shouted "Long live Bangladesh" when he spoke a few words in Bengali, the national language, during his acceptance speech.

The award ceremony in Oslo was followed by a lavish banquet, and some 1,300 people, including Sweden's royal family, attended a white-tie gala dinner in Stockholm.

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