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A big donation from Oprah

Philanthropist and media mogul Oprah Winfrey is donating $12 million to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, officials announced Tuesday.

Combined with the $1 million she gave in 2007, it is the museum’s largest donation, and Winfrey’s name will go on a 350-seat theater in recognition. The chairwoman and chief executive of the Oprah Winfrey Network has been a member of the museum’s advisory council since 2004.

“I am so proud of African American history and its contributions to our nation as a whole,” Winfrey said in a statement. “I am deeply appreciative of those who paved the path for me and all who follow in their footsteps. By investing in this museum, I want to help ensure that we both honor and preserve our culture and history, so that the stories of who we are will live on for generations to come.”

“Every donation, whether $25 or a $10 million corporate donation, is important. But truly, there’s only one Oprah Winfrey,” says the museum’s founding director, Lonnie G. Bunch.

Winfrey has been with the museum as an adviser and supporter for nearly a decade, he says.

Ground was broken on the five-acre site, adjacent to the Washington Monument, in February 2012. Congressional funding accounts for half of the museum’s $500 million design, construction and exhibition costs.

Douglas calls for policy change

Michael Douglas’ son is speaking out from behind bars, calling for treatment rather than jail time for non-violent drug offenders.

Cameron Douglas wrote an essay published Tuesday by the Huffington Post that says United States laws impose tougher penalties on addicts than violent criminals. The 34-year-old is serving a 9½-year prison sentence after various drug violations.

Douglas was first convicted in 2010 of selling methamphetamine, and a judge nearly doubled that sentence after he was found guilty of repeatedly breaking prison rules by arranging to get drugs.

Douglas writes that he “seem(s) to be trapped in a vicious cycle of relapse and repeat, as most addicts are.” He says a long prison sentence without adequate treatment “does absolutely nothing but temporarily deter them from succumbing to their weakness.”

Starr song gets book treatment

Ringo Starr is turning an old Beatles favorite into a children’s book.

The drummer has a deal with Simon & Schuster’s Children Books for “Octopus’ Garden,” based on one of the few songs the drummer wrote and sang while with the Beatles. The publisher announced Tuesday that the book will come out in Britain this fall and in the U.S. in early 2014. The book will be illustrated by Ben Cort, whose credits include “Aliens Love Underpants.”

Starr, who turns 73 next month, first wrote the song while on Peter Sellers’ yacht in 1968.

“Octopus’ Garden” first appeared on the Beatles’ “Abbey Road” album, released in 1969.

From News and wire service reports.