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Brothers in gaffes

Madrid, Feb. 17 (Reuters): Jeb Bush came to Madrid looking forward to trade ties but ended up looking back to the violent past, mistakenly calling Spain a republic.

the kind of gaffe his brother George has been famed for, the governor of Florida temporarily forgot King Juan Carlos I as he complimented Jose Maria Aznar, the Prime Minister whose title in Spanish is President of the government. “I would like to finish by thanking the President of the Republic of Spain for his friendship with the US,” Bush said today in fluid, Miami-accented Spanish.

has not been a republic since the late 1930s, when Gen. Francisco Franco crushed Republican troops in the Civil War. His nationalist dictatorship, on paper a kingdom for most of its life, lasted until his death in 1975, when Spain became a constitutional monarchy. Jeb Bush need not worry his faux pas will damage relations.

His older brother George W. Bush referred to Aznar as “Anzar” ahead of his first visit to Spain as US President in 2001, but the two became personal friends and close allies.

Potter name

Kiev (AFP): A 41-year-old Ukrainian psychiatrist turned fantasy writer has changed his name to Harry Potter, after the intrepid boy wizard whose tales have conquered the world, Interfax news agency said on Monday. “A British detective came to check if the change of name in my passport was legal,” Harry Potter, who lives in the eastern Ukrainian town of Kharkiv, told Interfax. “There are as many Potters in Britain like Ivanovs in Russia,” he added.

Daring Ben

Los Angeles (Reuters): Actor Ben Affleck switched from tabloid star to box office superhero over the US holiday weekend as his new action movie Daredevil topped the North American box office in its first outing. According to studio estimates, Daredevil grossed $43.5 million its first three days of release, while last week’s champ, How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days, made $19 million. Based on an obscure Marvel comic book first published in 1964, Daredevil stars Affleck as a blind attorney who is a crime-fighting vigilante by night.

Famine ship

Dublin (Reuters): Thousands lined the quay at Fenit harbour in western Ireland to bid “bon voyage” to a replica famine ship setting sail to recreate the journey of its predecessors across the Atlantic to North America. Up to two million Irish escaped the country’s potato famine in horrifying conditions on what became known as “coffin ships”, while back in Ireland more than a million died of starvation.

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