Washington in brief

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BUDGET CRUNCH FOCUSES ON FEDERAL AGENCIES

WASHINGTON - The federal budget to be unveiled in early February by
President George W. Bush will seek savings from the elimination of
superfluous federal agencies and commissions, Indian Country Today has
learned. The emphasis on shrinking government will be welcomed in many
quarters, but it may not deflect attention from Indian country in the
administration's effort to pay for the occupation of Iraq by reducing
domestic expenditures.

Cutbacks can be expected in Indian programs as in many other domestic
discretionary programs. But whether the cutbacks will be extraordinarily
steep, or simply in keeping with budgetary circumstances all around, is
another question. Last year, congressional allies of Indian country
restored many of the program cuts proposed by the Bush administration.

MCCAIN REVERSES HIMSELF ON AKAKA BILL

WASHINGTON - Sen. John McCain's reputation for straight talk is in no
danger, but let the record show that he seems to be of two minds on the
Akaka Bill.

A week after Associated Press reported his opposition to federal
recognition for Native Hawaiians, AP now reports that McCain does not
oppose the Akaka Bill that would accomplish it. The bill is named after
Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, the lead sponsor.

The reversal is cause for elation in Hawaii, where recognition as a
political entity would end court challenges to race-based preferences for
Native Hawaiians. As chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs,
the Arizona Republican has all the authority he would need to table the
Akaka Bill in committee and keep it from coming to a vote. But in his
latest position statement, McCain said he will not keep the bill from
coming to a vote in the committee or on the Senate floor.

NEW DIETARY GUIDELINES

WASHINGTON - The new evidence-based U.S. Dietary Guidelines call for the
consumption of more fruits and vegetables and whole grains, avoidance of
added sugars, fats and sodium - and exercise, lots of exercise.

Thirty minutes of moderately-intense exercise on most days, on top of
ordinary activity in getting about the home or the office, will help to
ward off chronic disease, according to the guidelines. Losing weight will
take up to 60 minutes of same, and maintaining weight loss will take 90.

The guidelines, issued jointly by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and
the Department of Health and Human Services, are the most detailed ever.
They relied on graded studies from the scientific literature on health,
eating and exercise, enabling the guidelines to transcend the clamor from
popular dietary programs. Sure enough, the evidence shows no real shortcut
to health - it takes judicious food selection and regular exercise.

Even members of the advisory committee on the guidelines expressed doubts
that Americans would respond to the 60- and 90-minute exercise standards
for weight loss and maintenance of weight loss. But the 30-minute standard
for warding off disease is both effective, according to the evidence, and
within reach of most people according to the experts.

The consumption guidelines will be implemented in school lunch programs and
federal nutritional programs, including the commodity foods long criticized
on reservations for their high fat, sugar and sodium content.

ZUNI MARCHING BAND AT INAUGURATION

WASHINGTON - The Zuni Marching Band took part in the 55th Presidential
Inauguration Parade on Jan. 20, a testimony to the pueblo-based youth
group's commitment to traditional music, customs and costumes - and to Sen.
Pete Domenici's fundraising prowess.

The band's selection for the parade was a rare honor in itself. But the New
Mexico Republican knew the group would face financial obstacles in making
the trip, and made every effort to raise donations from the community and
outside benefactors. Among the latter are Wells Fargo Bank, California
SuperMart and the New York firm Park Strategies; each donated on the basis
of longtime Domenici friendships.

Zuni Marching Band thus joined many youth groups across the country, sent
to participate in the quintessential parade of American democracy with the
best wishes of sponsors.