Justice rejects bid to block Obama

WASHINGTON - Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy yesterday rejected two more efforts to get the court to consider whether President-elect Barack Obama is eligible to take office.

Kennedy denied without comment an appeal by Philip J. Berg, a Lafayette Hill, Pa., lawyer, that contends Obama is a citizen of Kenya or Indonesia and therefore ineligible to be president. An appeal from California, based on Berg's claim, also was denied.

Individual justices and the full court have turned down emergency appeals over Obama's eligibility at least seven times in six weeks. Obama was born in Hawaii in 1961 to an American mother and a Kenyan father. Reacting to Internet-fueled conspiracy theories that Obama's birth certificate is a fake, Hawaiian officials have confirmed the certificate's authenticity.

- AP

NYC fares, tolls rise in '09 budget

NEW YORK - Fares and tolls for most of New York City's bridges, buses, trains and tunnels will increase by an average of 23 percent next year under a budget approved yesterday by the transit authority.

The new fares will take effect in June unless the Legislature approves an alternative plan. Under the alternative, fare and toll increases would be held to 8 percent.

Yesterday's state Metropolitan Transportation Authority board meeting starts the process of implementing what executive director Elliot Sander called a "draconian" 2009 budget, which includes the fare boost as well as service cuts at all divisions to help fill a $1.2 billion deficit.

The cost of a single ride on New York City buses and subways may increase to at least $2.50 from $2 if the 23 percent boost takes effect, according to an analysis.

- Bloomberg News

Ga. holds Muslim for wearing hijab

ATLANTA - A Muslim woman arrested for refusing to take off her hijab, a head scarf, at a courthouse security checkpoint said yesterday that she felt her human and civil rights were violated.

A judge ordered Lisa Valentine, 40, to serve 10 days in jail for contempt of court, said police in Douglasville, a city of about 20,000 people on Atlanta's west suburban outskirts.

Valentine violated a court policy that prohibits people from wearing any headgear in court, police said after they arrested her Tuesday.

Valentine was unexpectedly released after the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations urged federal authorities to investigate the incident as well as others in Georgia.

- AP

Elsewhere:

The portion of U.S. homes

with cell phones but no landlines has grown to 18 percent, led by adults living with unrelated roommates, renters and young people, federal figures released yesterday showed. An additional 13 percent of households have landlines but get all or nearly all calls on their cells, the survey showed.

John Walker Lindh

, the so-called American Taliban captured in Afghanistan in 2001, asked President Bush to commute the 20-year sentence he is serving for helping the Taliban. The government has not acted on Lindh's prior requests for commutation since 2004.