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Showing posts with label Nobel Prize. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nobel Prize. Show all posts

Friday, April 27, 2012

Ambassador Sean Penn wins the 2012 Nobel Peace Summit Award

Sean Penn gets Peace Prize

(AP) 26 April 2012 - Sean Penn gave an emotional speech Wednesday as he accepted an award from a gathering of Nobel Peace Prize laureates for his humanitarian work in Haiti, urging the world community to help the earthquake-ravaged country.

Photo: Reuters
"It's an overused phrase I know, but I trust you know its genuine today, I am humbled. I'm trembling and I like it," Penn said after accepting the 2012 Peace Summit Award from former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, who was joined on stage by the Dalai Lama and former Polish President Lech Walesa.

He used his speech at the 12th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates to urge the world community to remember Haiti and invest in the country's future and President Michel Martelly, who took office in May 2011.

"We have a very short window to support this team of the Haitian people's choosing," Penn said.

Papers in Penn's hands shook and he became emotional at times during his speech as he described conditions in Haitian refugee camps or told the story of a Haitian police officer who lost his family in the earthquake. Penn also warned that if Haiti fails it could become a harbor for narcotics trafficking and terrorism near the United States.

Penn has become a major player in efforts to rebuild Haiti after the January 2010 earthquake that devastated the island nation. Penn spends at least half his time in Haiti.

"He actually exchanged his home in Malibu for a tent," Udo Janz, United Nations high Commissioner for Refugees, said when he introduced Penn to accept the award. "Think of it as the Oscar for your humanitarian commitment Sean." - Associated Press

See photos of Sean Penn and other Nobel prize laureates present at the summit.

Sean Penn urges more aid for Haiti

CHICAGO — (AFP) Actor and activist Sean Penn urged more aid for Haiti as it struggles with the "enormous task" of recovering from the devastating 2010 quake.

"It would take a poet laureate to describe for you the courage and the dignity of (Haiti's) people," Penn said on Wednesday, after accepting an award at the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates for his humanitarian work in Haiti.

"There are no people on earth more willing to pull themselves up by their bootstraps," Penn said.

"But as Dr. Martin Luther King said, it's fine to tell a man to pull himself up by his own bootstraps, but evil to tell a man to do so without boots."

The situation for many Haitians remains horrific more than two years after the devastating January 12, 2010 earthquake that flattened large parts of Port-au-Prince and damaged much of the south of the country, Penn said.

"Take a look at Cite Soleil some time, where 240,000 Haitians -- men, women and children -- following every light rain, sleep in a black water solution of sewage and toxins, garbage and pigs," Penn said, his voice cracking with emotion.

"Where rape and gun violence are a daily occurrence."

The magnitude 7.0 quake killed 250,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands. According to UN figures, the quake killed, injured or displaced one in six of the Caribbean nation's entire population of almost 10 million.

Penn, who has been named Ambassador at Large for Haiti, expressed confidence in Haitian President Michel Martelly, who is trying to ramp up stalled reconstruction efforts.

"We have four years to solidify the seeding of institutions that can create sustainable democratic solutions. Four years that without a reinvigorated surge of support will leave the people's will up for grabs," Penn said.

"It's quite a task, but a doable one with investments in agriculture education, health care, housing, clean water and recognizing it's a country of nine million people, but it's also only nine million people."

Designated prime minister Laurent Lamothe told AFP last month that his country was seeking another $12 billion in aid.

But the head of the UN mission to Haiti has said that the political situation there remains "fragile" and that delays in forming a new government are hindering the recovery and economic development.

"Every time that Haiti is without a government, a prime minister and cabinet... violence and the feeling of lack of security grow," Mariano Fernandez, head of the MINUSTAH peacekeeping force, said in March.

Even before the earthquake Haiti was the poorest country in the Americas.

Penn insisted that failure is not an option and that the United States has a vested interest in Haiti's success.

"There is the human cost of poverty," Penn said.

"But if that on its own is not compelling, note that increased instability that attrition may bring to a Caribbean island (nation) an hour and half off our shores would be an open invitation to a new explosion of narco-trafficking, terrorist influences and paramilitaries." Copyright © 2012 AFP. All rights reserved.

Read more stories about Ambassador Sean Penn receiving the Nobel Summit Award..

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Lifetime of Achievement and Good Green Deeds


Remembering the Father of the Green Revolution

Associated Press (AP DALLAS) Sept 13: Agricultural scientist Norman Borlaug, the father of the "green revolution" who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in combating world hunger and saving hundreds of millions of lives, died Saturday in Texas, a Texas A&M University spokeswoman said. He was 95.
Borlaug died just before 11 p.m. Saturday at his home in Dallas from complications of cancer, said school spokeswoman Kathleen Phillips. Phillips said Borlaug´s granddaughter told her about his death. Borlaug was a distinguished professor at the university in College Station.

The Nobel committee honored Borlaug in 1970 for his contributions to high-yield crop varieties and bringing other agricultural innovations to the developing world. Many experts credit the green revolution with averting global famine during the second half of the 20th century and saving perhaps 1 billion lives.

Thanks to the green revolution, world food production more than doubled between 1960 and 1990. In Pakistan and India, two of the nations that benefited most from the new crop varieties, grain yields more than quadrupled over the period.

"We would like his life to be a model for making a difference in the lives of others and to bring about efforts to end human misery for all mankind," his children said in a statement. "One of his favorite quotes was, ´Reach for the stars. Although you will never touch them, if you reach hard enough, you will find that you get a little ´star dust´ on you in the process.´"

Equal parts scientist and humanitarian, the Iowa-born Borlaug realized improved crop varieties were just part of the answer, and pressed governments for farmer-friendly economic policies and improved infrastructure to make markets accessible. A 2006 book about Borlaug is titled "The Man Who Fed the World."

"He has probably done more and is known by fewer people than anybody that has done that much," said Dr. Ed Runge, retired head of Texas A&M University´s Department of Soil and Crop Sciences and a close friend who persuaded Borlaug teach at the school. "He made the world a better place — a much better place. He had people helping him, but he was the driving force."

Borlaug began the work that led to his Nobel in Mexico at the end of World War II. There he used innovative breeding techniques to produce disease-resistant varieties of wheat that produced much more grain than traditional strains.

He and others later took those varieties and similarly improved strains of rice and corn to Asia, the Middle East, South America and Africa.

"More than any other single person of his age, he has helped to provide bread for a hungry world," Nobel Peace Prize committee chairman Aase Lionaes said in presenting the award to Borlaug. "We have made this choice in the hope that providing bread will also give the world peace."

During the 1950s and 1960s, public health improvements fueled a population boom in underdeveloped nations, leading to concerns that agricultural systems could not keep up with growing food demand. Borlaug´s work often is credited with expanding agriculture at just the moment such an increase in production was most needed.

"We got this thing going quite rapidly," Borlaug told The Associated Press in a 2000 interview. "It came as a surprise that something from a Third World country like Mexico could have such an impact."

His successes in the 1960s came just as books like "The Population Bomb" were warning readers that mass starvation was inevitable.

"Three or four decades ago, when we were trying to move technology into India, Pakistan and China, they said nothing could be done to save these people, that the population had to die off," he said in 2004.

Borlaug often said wheat was only a vehicle for his real interest, which was to improve people´s lives.

"We must recognize the fact that adequate food is only the first requisite for life," he said in his Nobel acceptance speech. "For a decent and humane life we must also provide an opportunity for good education, remunerative employment, comfortable housing, good clothing and effective and compassionate medical care."

In Mexico, Borlaug was known both for his skill in breeding plants and for his eagerness to labor in the fields himself, rather than to let assistants do all the hard work.

He remained active well into his 90s, campaigning for the use of biotechnology to fight hunger and working on a project to fight poverty and starvation in Africa by teaching new drought-resistant farming methods.

"We still have a large number of miserable, hungry people and this contributes to world instability," Borlaug said in May 2006 at an Asian Development Bank forum in the Philippines. "Human misery is explosive, and you better not forget that."

Norman Ernest Borlaug was born March 25, 1914, on a farm near Cresco, Iowa, and educated through the eighth grade in a one-room schoolhouse.

"I was born out of the soil of Howard County," he said. "It was that black soil of the Great Depression that led me to a career in agriculture."

He left home during the Great Depression to study forestry at the University of Minnesota. While there he earned himself a place in the university´s wrestling hall of fame and met his future wife, whom he married in 1937. Margaret Borlaug died in 2007 at the age of 95.

After a brief stint with the U.S. Forest Service, Norman Borlaug returned to the University of Minnesota for a doctoral degree in plant pathology. He then worked as a microbiologist for DuPont, but soon left for a job with the Rockefeller Foundation. Between 1944 and 1960, Borlaug dedicated himself to increasing Mexico´s wheat production.

In 1963, Borlaug was named head of the newly formed International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, where he trained thousands of young scientists.

Borlaug retired as head of the center in 1979 and turned to university teaching, first at Cornell University and then at Texas A&M, which presented him with an honorary doctorate in December 2007.

"You really felt really very privileged to be with him, and it wasn´t that he was so overpowering, but he was always on, intellectually always engaged," said Dr. Ed Price, director of A&M´s Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture. "He was always onto the issues and wanting to engage and wanting your opinions and thoughts."

In 1986, Borlaug established the Des Moines, Iowa-based World Food Prize, a $250,000 award given each year to a person whose work improves the world´s food supply. He also helped found and served as president of the Sasakawa Africa Foundation, an organization funded by Japanese billionaire Ryoichi Sasakawa to introduce the green revolution to sub-Saharan Africa.

In July 2007, Borlaug received the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor given by Congress.

He is survived by daughter Jeanie Borlaug Laube and her husband Rex; son William Gibson Borlaug and his wife Barbie; five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

They asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to the Borlaug International Scholars Fund. It helps students from developing countries pursue graduate studies or short-term experiential learning activities at Texas A&M or other land grant universities in the U.S.

Plans for a memorial service to be held at Texas A&M were pending.

See the revised article on Wikipedia:  Norman Ernest Borlaug, Father of the Green Revolution
Norman Ernest Borlaug (March 25, 1914–September 12, 2009) was an American agronomist, humanitarian, and Nobel laureate, and has been called the father of the Green Revolution. Borlaug was one of five people in history to have won the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. He was also a recipient of the Padma Vibhushan, India's second-highest civilian honor. Borlaug's discoveries have been estimated to have saved over 245 million lives worldwide.