President Obama recognized 17 Americans with the nation’s highest civilian award, including the first black woman elected to Congress, one of the greatest catchers in baseball history and a “Funny Girl.”

“Today we celebrate some extraordinary people: innovators, artists and leaders who contribute to America’s strength as a nation,” Obama said.

Obama presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Tuesday to filmmaker Steven Spielberg, musicians Gloria and Emilio Estefan, singer James Taylor, composer Stephen Sondheim, violinist Itzhak Perlman and actress Barbra Streisand, who won an Academy award for her performance in the classic film, “Funny Girl.” The sports honorees were Baseball Hall of Famers Willie Mays and Yogi Berra, who died in September. Mays was among the first black players in Major League Baseball. “It’s because of giants like Willie that someone like me could even think about running for president,” Obama said.

Other honorees include: Sen. Barbara Mikulski; former Rep. Lee Hamilton; the late Rep. Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to Congress; Bonnie Carroll, a veterans advocate; Katherine G. Johnson, a NASA mathematician, whose calculations influenced every major space program; and William Ruckelshaus, a former chief of the Environmental Protection Agency. Posthumous recipients include Indian tribal advocate Billy Frank Jr. and civil rights leader Minoru Yasui.

Signed ‘Watchman’ going for $1,500

How much is a signed Harper Lee novel worth? Her publisher is offering 500 leather-bound collector’s edition of “Go Set a Watchman” for $1,500. HarperCollins said Lee, 89, signed the books over the past few months.


star power: The little-known Cambodia International Film Festival is getting a star-powered boost from Angelina Jolie Pitt. The star, who is in Cambodia filming a movie, will serve as president of the festival’s honorary committee, organizers said. The festival held in the capital, Phnom Penh, runs Dec. 4-10.


Probation: John Stamos was sentenced to three years of probation after he pleaded no contest to driving under the influence of a drug earlier this year. Stamos was ordered to attend 52 Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and a counseling session.


Responsible: Television personality and actress Sherri Shepherd has been found legally responsible for a child born to a surrogate she and her ex-husband hired before they divorced, a Pennsylvania appeals court ruled. The ruling means she must continue paying $4,100 a month in child support, according to a lawyer for ex-husband Lamar Sally, who is raising the 1-year-old boy in Los Angeles.

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