Passport

The global Twitterati

In only seven months, Hugo Chavez has passed 1,000,000  followers on Twitter. He announced the accomplishment this morning:

"Hello beautiful world. I would like to thank all my followers, We've passed the million mark! Woo-hoo!."

For comparison, U.S. President Barack Obama has almost 6,000,000 followers, though his account has been open for a much longer period of time. (Note: The White House has 1,800,000 followers -- the above figure is Obama's Organizing for America account, which was previously his campaign Twitter profile.) Dmitry Medvedev's official English Kremlin account, however, has a mere 50,000 followers. (And the Russian version has only 111,000 followers.)

If you're on Twitter, it'd behoove you to follow Foreign Policy's page, where you can stay up to date on the latest articles and news from FP. (At the moment, we've got 73,500 followers.) Furthermore, you can follow the personal accounts of FP's editors, handily compiled in the FP_Tweeps list.

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Passport

The Moroccan girl, the president, the dental hygienist, and the 'bunga-bunga parties'

Here's Italian President Silvio Berlusconi's underaged girl scandal #4,080:

At the heart of it all is a Moroccan girl nicknamed Ruby, who turned 18 on Monday, but was still a minor last May when she was held in a police station in Milan, accused of theft until Mr. Berlusconi called and demanded she be released, Italian newspapers reported.

The details of what happened that night are now in the cross hairs of Milanese prosecutors, who must determine whether laws were broken or procedures ignored when Ruby was placed into the custody of Nicole Minetti, a former showgirl and Mr. Berlusconi’s dental hygienist. In March, Ms. Minetti was elected to the regional assembly in Lombardy as a candidate of the prime minister’s People of Freedom Party....

During the past week, Ruby’s accounts of parties at Mr. Berlusconi’s private villa outside Milan have turned mainstream newspapers into the trashiest of tabloids.

Prosecutors are said to be wary of the outlandish descriptions of sexual activities that Ruby said took place during what she called “bunga-bunga” parties, a term that has now spawned several You Tube spoofs by popular Italian comedians. Ruby has also said she received money and presents from the prime minister. Mr. Berlusconi has discounted these accounts as “trash."

Berlusconi doesn't deny that he sent an aide to secure the girl's release, claiming, "I'm a person of the heart, and I take action whenever there is someone in need of help." Some Italian media have reported that the president may have told police (incorrectly) that Ruby was the granddaughter of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

This clearly isn't good. And in any normal country it would probably be enough to force the president to resign, as parliamentary speaker and Berlusconi opponent Gianfranco Fini now says he should. But Berlusconi's survived so many of these scandals already that I feel like the marginal impact of new revelations is swiftly diminishing. Most people already imagine that Berlusconi's personal life resembles a Felliniesuqe orgy of prurience and corruption. Fini and his allies are going to have to try a new approach if they're going to put an end to all the bunga-bunga.