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AROUND THE NATION

Dylan to receive Medal of Freedom

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The first female secretary of state, a former astronaut and a musical pioneer are among this year's recipients of the Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.

President Obama will award the medals at the White House later this spring.

Among this year's recipients are former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the first woman to hold the nation's top diplomatic post; John Glenn, the third American in space and the first American to orbit the Earth; and legendary musician Bob Dylan. "They've challenged us, they've inspired us, and they've made the world a better place," Obama said.

Among the other honorees: Dolores Huerta, civil rights workers and women's advocate; Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts; Toni Morrison, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist; Shimon Peres, Israeli president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate; John Paul Stevens, former Supreme Court Justice; and Pat Summitt, former women's basketball coach at the University of Tennessee.

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Lava flows like coils are found on Mars

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A student researcher has spotted lava flows shaped like coils of rope near the equator of Mars, the first time such geologic features have been discovered outside of Earth.

These twisty volcanic patterns can be found on Hawaii's Big Island and in the Pacific seafloor on our planet. While evidence for lava flows is present in many places on Mars, none is shaped like this latest find.

"I was quite surprised and puzzled when I first saw the coils," Andrew Ryan, a graduate student at Arizona State University, said in an email. He reported the discovery in today's issue of the journal Science.

The biggest surprise? The largest Martian lava spiral measured 100 feet across -- bigger than any on Earth. It is further evidence that Mars was volcanically active recently -- geologically speaking within the past 20 million years. Ryan analyzed about 100 high-resolution photos of the region snapped by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been photographing the Martian surface since 2006. One evening, while taking a second look at the images, Ryan zoomed in and noticed the lava coils.

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Insurer fights claim in fire killing five

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) -- An insurance company said it should not have to pay claims or lawsuits stemming from a Christmas morning fire that killed five people because a contractor renovating the house misrepresented the type and scope of work his company performs.

Utica First Insurance Co. argues in a lawsuit filed this week in New York that Michael Borcina misrepresented the number of employees with his company, Tiberias Construction, its sales and payroll, and size and type of work it performs. The insurer says if it knew the facts, it would not have issued the policies.

The fire in Stamford, blamed on discarded fireplace ashes, killed 9-year-old Lily and 7-year-old twins Sarah and Grace Badger, and their grandparents, Lomer and Pauline Johnson.

The lawsuit says those who could be affected include the girls' parents, Madonna and Matthew Badger; Madonna's brother, Wade Johnson; and the estates of the victims. The Badgers are divorced. "We are very disappointed that Tiberias Construction's insurance company is trying to get out from under its legal obligations," said David Grudberg, Borcina's attorney.