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Words: pork-barrel, adj. and n.

THE BELGIANS must lament that, despite the Common Market's federal aspirations, it lacks a pork-barrel system. Not in the OED, this is a fund which legislators draw upon to finance local matters, such as highways or even problems in the food-chain. Its origins are obscure, perhaps derived from feeding slaves with barrels of salt-pork and hence has connotations of dodgy practice, of buttering up voters.

To show as much, in Minnesota the Governor, Jesse Ventura, wields a rubber stamp of a sitting pig which he thumps upon outlandish financial proposals. The other day this porcine veto landed upon a half-million-dollar domestic violence programme; a Ramsey County prosecutor's outrage prompted him to say that he was just being humorous.