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Dylan and Eastwood snub Obama honours

US President Barack Obama has honoured actor and director Clint Eastwood and singer Bob Dylan with arts and humanities awards.

The White House called Dylan "an icon of youthful rebellion and poetic sensitivity" and said Eastwood's films and performances were "essays in individuality, hard truths and the essence of what it means to be American.

"Obviously, their careers have helped to mark the landscape of American culture for decades," Mr Obama said noting their absence from the East Room ceremony.

Others who made the event, though, were no less important to the nation's cultural identity.

Soprano Jessye Norman was recognised for "broadening contemporary operatic repertoire".

Maya Lin earned a medal for her architecture, including the National Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington.

And Mr Obama awarded composer John Williams a medal for music featured in films such as the Star Wars series and the soundtrack to the Olympics.

Mr Obama also welcomed author and activist Elie Wiesel to accept an award for his work to educate the country on the Holocaust and conductor Michael Tilson Thomas for his efforts to expand the repertoire for contemporary music.

Noting the country produced talents ranging from Mark Twain to Toni Morrison, John Philip Sousa to Louis Armstrong, Mr Obama praised the United States' diversity.

"They bring us joy, they bring us understanding and insight, they bring us comfort in good times and perhaps especially in difficult times in our own lives and the life of our nation," he said.