Despite the specter of a strike, 24,000 unionized oil refinery workers were expected at work Monday at facilities on both coasts and along the Gulf of Mexico. The United Steelworkers, which represents thousands of oil workers nationwide, agreed to a rolling 24-hour strike-notice extension in the event contract negotiations break down. Should a walkout occur, the biggest US refiner, Valero Energy Corp., said it would shut some facilities. Altogether 60 producers could be affected.

A hole emitting gases and steam through a glacier on Alaska's Mount Redoubt grew to the length of two football fields over the weekend. Geologists continued to monitor the situation, which raised concerns the volcano might be on the verge of erupting for the first time since 1990.

Bird collisions with commercial airliners have caused more than two dozen serious incidents in the past two years, including emergency landings, according to reports filed with NASA's Aviation Safety Reporting System. Meanwhile, voluntary reports to the Federal Aviation Administration show nearly 80,000 instances of birds striking nonmilitary aircraft from 1990 to 2007, or about one strike per every 10,000 flights.

The US military is looking to reduce the loads combat troops carry in Iraq and Afghanistan as the number of weight-related injuries grows, leading to more "nondeployable" soldiers, The Washington Post reports. Commanders are considering body armor that weighs less than 20 pounds, instead of the 35 pounds common today.

Michael Steele was elected the first black to lead the Repub-lican National Committee during voting late last week that went to a sixth ballot. Steele , the former lieutenant governor of Maryland, vowed to expand the reach of the party by "competing for every group, everywhere," he said in accepting the two-year term.

The unmarried woman who gave birth to octuplets last week in Bellflower, Calif., has had 14 children through in vitro fertilization, but her mother says the childbearing is over because the daughter has no more frozen embryos.

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