USA

Denver bus drivers, mechanics, and light-rail operators took to the picket lines Monday in the city's first transit stoppage in 24 years. The system transports about 275,000 people a day and vowed to keep 45 percent of bus routes running. Officials of the transit union said members are weary from working long hours without a raise for three years.

All 17 people aboard a C-5 military cargo plane survived when it split into three pieces but did not explode while attempting an emergency landing at Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Del., Monday. Some were taken to hospitals and treated for injuries. The plane, the largest in US military service, tried to land after developing problems on takeoff but came up short of the runway.

Construction spending in February rose 0.8 percent to a record seasonally adjusted rate of $1.185 trillion, the Commerce Department said Monday. Home building hit an all-time high, and even though sales are expected to cool off, economists expect that construction of factories, offices, and other private buildings should remain a source of economic growth.

The death toll from weekend tornadoes and severe thunderstorms in the central US rose to at least 23 people Monday, according to emergency officials. The hardest hit area was northwestern Tennessee, where 19 people died, mostly when caught in their demolished homes.

In the latest telecommunications merger, France's Alcatel SA said it would acquire Lucent Technologies of Murray Hill, N.J., for $13.4 billion in stock. Once the deal is closed, the company plans to eliminate 8,800 jobs.

For the first time in four years, Exxon Mobil passed Wal-Mart as the largest US company in the Fortune 500 rankings, CNNMoney.com reported. The oil giant raked in $340 billion in earnings last year. Meanwhile, No. 3 General Motors reached a deal to sell 51 percent of its financing arm on Monday for $14 billion to a consortium of investors led by Cerberus Capital Management LP.

The women's teams from Duke and Maryland will face off in Tuesday's NCAA basketball championship game in Boston, their fourth meeting of the season. The others came during the Atlantic Coast Conference season, with Duke winning twice. Duke advanced to the final via a 64-45 victory over Louisiana State. Maryland upset top-ranked and fellow ACC rival North Carolina, 81-70.

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