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Political Notebook

Barack soars in popularity among names for baby boys

Associated Press / May 9, 2009
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A lot more parents are naming their children after President Obama, but not enough for "Barack" to make the top 1,000 boys' names list. But watch out this year.

The Social Security Administration, which tracks the nation's most popular baby names, said yesterday that Barack did set what is believed to be a record by skyrocketing more than 10,000 spots - from number 12,535 in 2007 to 2,409 in 2008. It predicts that Barack will jump into the top 1,000 for 2009.

Within the top 1,000 boys' names, the biggest jump was for Jacoby, moving up 200 spots to number 423. The agency's commissioner Michael Astrue, a die-hard Red Sox fan, attributed the rise to the appeal of Boston's fleet centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, the agency said in a news release. The largest jump within the top 1,000 was on the girl's side, for Khloe, apparently related to Khloe Kardashian from the reality TV show "Keeping Up with the Kardashians."

Overall, Emma supplanted Emily as the most popular girl's name, while Jacob stayed atop the boy's list.

Obama plans speech to mend US-Islamic ties
WASHINGTON - President Obama, who promised to lend a hand to the Islamic world if it unclenches a fist, plans a major speech in Egypt on June 4 as he seeks to repair damaged relations between the United States and Muslims.

At least two other emotional highlights seem certain on the trip, announced yesterday. Obama will visit the former Nazi concentration camp at Buchenwald in Germany on June 5. And the next day, he will be in France to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the Allies' invasion of Normandy on D-Day.

Obama, whose father was a Muslim from Kenya, said in Turkey last month that the United States "is not and never will be at war with Islam." His speech at a yet-to-be-determined Egyptian site will delve more deeply into US-Islamic relations at a time when predominantly Muslim Pakistan is a major concern to the Obama administration.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Obama chose Egypt because it "in many ways represents the heart of the Arab world."

Obama says swine flu fight won't exclude Latinos
WASHINGTON - President Obama sought yesterday to reassure Hispanics that swine flu won't lead to an epidemic of discrimination in the United States just because Mexico has been the epicenter of the outbreak. At the town hall-style meeting at the White House, Obama told about 130 Latino public health professionals and neighborhood volunteers that the nation's plan to fight the flu will not exclude their communities.

"We're one country, we're one community. When one person gets sick, that has the potential of making us all sick," Obama said. "We can't be divided by communities."