The consumer confidence index fell to an all-time low in December, the Conference Board, an independent economic research group, reported Tuesday. The drop to a 38 reading from a revised 44.7 in November was driven by concerns about lost jobs, analysts believe.

A judge overseeing the liquidation of Bernard Madoff's investment firm in New York approved Tuesday the transfer of $28.1 million to cover expenses, including employee salaries. Madoff is accused of running an elaborate Ponzi scheme that duped individual and institutional clients out of potentially $50 billion.

A lawsuit brought by Gulf Coast trailer dwellers against the federal government and several trailer manufacturers failed to achieve class-action status Monday. A US district judge in New Orleans ruled that each person's claim that the government-issued emergency housing is shoddily built and potentially dangerous is unique and must be handled separately. The plaintiffs have lived in the trailers since hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit in 2005.

The attorney for embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) told Illinois lawmakers Monday that no one knows the full context of remarks his client is heard making on FBI tape recordings that led to corruption charges. Ed Genson urged a House committee to not recommend Blagojevich's impeachment.

Three days of unusual earthquake activity in Yellowstone National Park have scientists closely monitoring what one geophysicist said might be "something precursory." The park, located in an active volcanic and tectonic area, is accustomed to small quakes, but more than 250 tremors, including one with a magnitude of 3.3 Monday, could be a sign that something bigger is coming.

The US population grew by roughly 3 million residents in 2008 and will enter the new year at an estimated 305.5 million, according to the Census Bureau.

Grammy-winning jazz musician Freddie Hubbard, whose exuberant playing style influenced new generations of trumpeters, died Monday in Sherman Oaks, Calif. During his career, which began in 1958, Hubbard played with such greats as John Coltrane and Miles Davis.

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