Stripping for political change

WITH so much political turmoil, violence and potential for disaster sweeping across North Africa at the moment, let's give thanks for Belgium.

Not only has this brave little country sandwiched between France and The Netherlands given us the world's best beer, chocolate and the Smurfs, its people have shown the best way to achieve political change is stripping.

Hundreds of frustrated Belgians divested themselves of their outer garments in the freezing cold to show their displeasure at the failure of their politicians to form a government, more than 50 days after a general election.

No need for a violent uprising when you can ridicule your elected representatives with a gratuitous display of flesh.

I don't suppose the Arabs will agree, however.

Now you might consider that we have some Grade-A clowns in the state and federal parliaments, but in Brazil voters have placed their trust in a real clown.

Francisco Everardo Oliveira Silva, better known by his clown name Tririca, won a place in Brazil's lower house with the campaign slogan “It can't get any worse”.

But it did. Tririca messed up his first ever vote in Congress by accidentally pressing the wrong button on a computerised voting system. His mistake almost gave the tick to a proposal for a big pay rise for MPs – precisely the opposite of what he intended.

Meanwhile, over in Germany where most things are forbidden by the nation's rule-obsessed politicians, there's a proposal that will cause much tut-tutting.

The Fatherland is so desperate to encourage people to have more children that the government is proposing to allow citizens under six to laugh, shout and play at any volume.

Germany has many noise-suppression regulations. You can't mow your lawn on Sundays, for example, and kindergartens are often banned from residential areas because they might be too loud.

Finally, over in Uganda the 67-year-old president, Yoweri Museveni, is planning to release a rap album.

According to Reuters, a rap Museveni used to entertain supporters at political rallies became a smash hit on Uganda's radio stations and is getting plenty of a play in night clubs.

The gravelly voiced leader, whose nickname is M7, might open a new route for Julia Gillard to reach young, streetwise voters. Can't wait.

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