Ventura silent about lung illness

St. Paul, Minn. � Gov. Jesse Ventura went back to work � and back to his tightlipped treatment of reporters � after a hospital stay for a blood clot in his lung.

Ventura had "nothing" to say as he strode past reporters, up a flight of stairs and into his office Wednesday.

The governor had been away from the Capitol for more than a week and spent four days in the hospital.

Ventura visited a doctor on Tuesday, but aides offered no more details about his medical condition. He celebrated his 51st birthday at his Maple Grove ranch on Monday.

Smoking Crowe haunts station

Sydney, Australia � A television station that aired an interview showing Russell Crowe smoking a cigarette lost its appeal Thursday against a ruling that it breached tobacco advertising laws.

Federal Court Judge Arthur Emmett upheld the Australian Broadcasting Authority's ruling against the Nine Network.

The station appealed after the authority said an October 2000 interview with Crowe on its "60 Minutes" current affairs show breached the Tobacco Advertisement Prohibition Act. The program showed the Oscar-winning "Gladiator" star holding a packet of Marlboros as he lit up.

Part of the interview was replayed the following week after viewers criticized Crowe � who was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of tobacco industry whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand in 1999's "The Insider" � for his smoking habit.

The authority said that while the original footage was an allowable "incidental accompaniment," the repeat broadcast "recklessly" constituted a tobacco advertisement.

Cruz collecting for charity

Los Angeles � Spanish actress Penelope Cruz announced plans to lead a U.S. branch of the Sabera Foundation, which supplies food, shelter and education to impoverished Indian women and children.

Cruz, 28, co-star of 2001's "Vanilla Sky," has been actively involved with the Calcutta-based nonprofit organization.

The group was founded in 1999 by Spanish musician Nacho Cano and was named after a little girl and her mother, whom he featured in a documentary about India's poor.

Sabera is planning a fund-raising event Oct. 10 in Los Angeles. Proceeds will be used for construction of new hospitals and schools in Calcutta. Charter members of the U.S. unit include actress Melanie Griffith and model Esther Canadas.

Steel's art not lost on French

Paris � The French government has honored romance novelist Danielle Steel for her contribution to the arts.

Steel, 54, author of "Sunset in St. Tropez" and other novels, was awarded the Order of Arts and Letters in a ceremony in Paris, her publicist said.

She spent most of her childhood in France, and French was her first language.


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