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What Baby Names Say About America

“Emma” rules the West Coast, while “Liam” reigns supreme in the American Midwest.

In the southeastern part of the United States, parents prefer the name “William” for boys and “Ava” for girls, according to the U.S. Social Security Administration, which compiled a list of 2018’s most popular baby names.

At the top of the list nationwide are “Liam” for boys (for the second year) and “Emma” for girls (continuing a 5-year streak). The names “Noah” and “Olivia” come in second.

While naming a child might feel like one of the most personal decisions a person can make, that choice is often heavily influenced …read more

Kenyan Author, LGBT Activist Binyavanga Wainaina Dies at 48

One of Africa’s best-known authors and gay rights activists, Binyavanga Wainaina, has died at age 48, a colleague and friend said Wednesday.

The Kenyan author died Tuesday night in Nairobi after an illness, Tom Maliti, the chairman of the Kwani Trust which Wainaina founded, told The Associated Press.

Wainaina, who won the 2002 Caine Prize for African Writing, was a key figure in the artistic community who promoted local authors. Friends and supporters in an outpouring of tributes on Wednesday shared his work including his biting essay “How to Write About Africa.”

“Always use the word `Africa’ or `Darkness’ or `Safari’ in your …read more

Jamie Oliver’s British Restaurant Chain Collapses

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s restaurant chain in Britain has filed for bankruptcy protection, closing 22 of its 25 eateries and leaving some 1,000 people out of work.

The remaining outlets, two Jamie’s Italian restaurants and a Jamie’s Diner at Gatwick Airport outside London, will stay open, the financial firm KPMG, which will oversee the process, said in a statement Tuesday.

Oliver said on Twitter he was “devastated that our much-loved UK restaurants have gone into administration,” a form of bankruptcy protection, and thanked people “who have put their hearts and souls into this business over the years.”

​Oliver gained fame as “The Naked …read more

Germany Hands Israel Thousands of Kafka Confidant’s Papers

German authorities on Tuesday handed over to Israel some 5,000 documents kept by a confidant of Franz Kafka, a trove whose plight could have been plucked from one of the author’s surreal stories.

The papers returned include a postcard from Kafka from 1910 and personal documents kept by Max Brod, which experts say provide a window into Europe’s literary and cultural scene in the early 20th century.

They are among some 40,000 documents, including manuscripts, correspondence, notebooks and other writings that once belonged to Brod, which are being brought together again in Israel’s National Library. They had ended up in bank vaults …read more

Playing Music to Ease Pain, Nourish Social Connections

Music has long helped people express their emotions and connect with one another. Over the years, medical studies have proved that music has many health benefits, too. They range from facilitating regular breathing and lifting mood to improving emotional function and motor control in patients. Faiza Elmasry tells us more about music therapy. Faith Lapidus narrates. …read more