IRS CREDIT CARDS USED FOR WINE, PORN: WASHINGTON — Poor oversight by the Internal Revenue Service allowed workers to use agency credit cards to buy wine for an expensive luncheon, dorky swag for managers’ meetings and, for one employee, romance novels and diet pills, an agency watchdog said Tuesday. Two IRS credit cards were used to buy online pornography, though the employees said the cards were stolen. One of the workers reported five agency credit cards lost or stolen. IRS employees used agency credit cards to make more than 273,000 purchases totaling nearly $108 million in 2010 and 2011, according to the report by the Treasury inspector general for tax administration. The vast majority of those purchases were legitimate, the report said.
ARMY TO CUT BRIGADE AT 10 BASES: WASHINGTON — The Army will eliminate at least 12 combat brigades, relocate thousands of soldiers and cancel $400 million in construction projects as the first wave of federal budget cuts takes aim at military communities around the country. In a massive restructuring, Army leaders said Tuesday that they will slash the number of active duty combat brigades from 45 to 33, as the service moves forward with a longtime plan to cut the size of the service by 80,000. And they warned that more cuts — of as many as 100,000 more active duty, National Guard and Reserve soldiers — could be coming if Congress allows billions of dollars in automatic budget cuts to continue next year. The sweeping changes would eliminate brigades — which number from 3,500 to 5,000 troops — at 10 Army bases in the U.S. by 2017, including those in Texas, Kentucky, Georgia, Colorado, North Carolina, New York, Kansas and Washington.
POT FARMER GETS PROBATION: DETROIT — A southeastern Michigan farmer recovering from throat cancer was sentenced to probation instead of prison Tuesday for growing thousands of marijuana plants, due partly to many handwritten letters from supporters who described him as a modest, selfless man who helps others at every turn. “This is one that most screams out: This man deserves a break,” U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman said. Edwin Schmieding, 61, was caught growing 8,000 marijuana plants at his Lenawee County farm and greenhouse in 2011. His wife told police that they were trying to tap the state’s medical marijuana market, although production that large is illegal.
SENATOR FILIBUSTERS AGAINST ABORTION BILL: AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Wearing pink tennis shoes to prepare for nearly 13 consecutive hours of standing, a Democratic Texas Senator Wendy Davis on Tuesday began a one-woman filibuster to block a GOP-led effort that would impose stringent new abortion restrictions across the nation's second-most populous state. Rules stipulate she remain standing, not lean on her desk or take any breaks — even for meals or to use the bathroom. Colleagues removed her chair so she wouldn't sit down by mistake. If signed into law, the measures would close almost every abortion clinic in Texas, a state 773 miles wide and 790 miles long with 26 million people. A woman living along the Mexico border or in West Texas would have to drive hundreds of miles to obtain an abortion if the law passes.
FIRE, EXPLOSIONS CLEAR DOWNTOWN ST. LOUIS: ST. LOUIS (AP) — One of the largest office buildings in downtown St. Louis has been evacuated amid a fire and a series of explosions in the street outside in an area where construction work has been underway. Occasional fireballs shot out from a hole in the pavement Tuesday evening as firefighters battled flames that appeared to come from underground. The cause was not immediately known. There were no reports of injuries. The blasts happened just before 5 p.m. outside the One US Bank Plaza building, located across from the St. Louis Convention Center.