Federal murder charges were to be filed against sniper suspect John Allen Muhammad Tuesday. Justice Department officials said they'd also add extortion and use of a firearm in a crime causing death to the charges brought against Muhammad and teenager John Lee Malvo by states. Meanwhile, authorities in Tacoma, Wash., linked Muhammad and Malvo to two shootings there earlier this year. A friend who said he'd loaned guns to the men turned the weapons over to the FBI, which determined they were used in the murder of a woman in February and a shooting at a synagogue in May. No one was injured in the latter incident.

One week before Election Day, President Bush signed reform legislation designed to avert many of the problems that marred the 2000 vote. The measure authorizes $3.9 billion in federal spending to help states replace outdated voting equipment, train poll workers, and maintain statewide voter-registration lists on computer by 2004.

Consumer confidence fell for a fifth straight month to the lowest level since 1993, the Conference Board reported. The research group's index – widely watched as an indicator of consumer spending – declined more than 14 points to 79.4 in October. The unexpectedly large drop sent stock markets down sharply by midday Tuesday.

The National Transportation Safety Board began a public hearing into the crash of American Airlines Flight 587, the second-deadliest air disaster in US history. All 260 people on board and five others on the ground were killed when the plane went down after takeoff from New York's Kennedy International Airport for the Dominican Republic. The crash occurred a month and a day after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Serious crime in the US increased in 2001 for the first time in a decade, according to an annual FBI report. The nation's crime index rose 2.1 percent last year, with 11.8 million murders, armed robberies, rapes, burglaries, and other crimes reported to police. Some experts noted the rise coincided with an economic slump.

Three University of Arizona professors were shot and killed by a student in the school's College of Nursing, who then took his own life. Robert Flores Jr., a Gulf War veteran who was failing his classes, launched the attack during an exam Monday.

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