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July 8, 2014
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"West Springfield police have two grenade launchers — why?"

That's the question the ACLU of Massachusetts posed in a Facebook post advertising its recently released annual report. The West Springfield Police Department currently has two M79 grenade launchers as well as seven M14 rifles, thanks to a Department of Defense excess property program. The department obtained the grenade launchers and rifles in the late 1990s at no cost.

Police Chief Ronald P. Campurciani told Mass Live that the grenade launchers have never been used, and they won't ever be, because their technology is now so "antiquated." "I cannot think of a scenario where we would employ those weapons," Campurciani said.

If the department doesn't plan to use the grenade launchers, though, the ACLU's question is perhaps even more valid. After all, is there really a need for a small town's police department to keep such dangerous weapons? Meghan DeMaria

7:49 p.m. ET
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President Trump is annoyed with several Republican senators doing things he believes might damage him, like working on bipartisan bills sanctioning Russia, and he called two of them to privately vent his frustrations, several people familiar with his conversations told Politico.

In late July, Trump called Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and tried to convince him that the bill sanctioning Russia was bad policy and unconstitutional, three people with knowledge of the call told Politico, but Corker made it known the bill would pass and there wasn't anything Trump could do about it. On August 7, Trump rang Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), who is working with Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) on a bill that aims to protect special counsel Robert Mueller should Trump attempt to fire him, one person familiar with the call told Politico. Trump let Tillis know he wasn't happy about the legislation, and didn't want it to pass.

One senior GOP aide told Politico it seems Trump is "just always focused on Russia," but it's now going to be a lot harder for him to make surprise phone calls to Republican senators — senior administration officials said John Kelly, Trump's new chief of staff, has been trying to get a handle on the president's impromptu calls with legislators by requesting that senior White House aides be notified and present for all conversations. Catherine Garcia

6:54 p.m. ET

When 1,500 self-described Republican and Republican-leaning voters were asked who they would vote for in a hypothetical GOP presidential primary held today, with three established senators and a governor facing off against President Trump, 50 percent said they would cast their ballot for Trump.

GOP pollster and strategist Tony Fabrizio of Fabrizio, Lee & Associates posted the survey results on Twitter Wednesday, commenting that Trump was "crushing a hypothetical GOP primary field. So much for the 'buyer's remorse' the D.C. insiders are convinced the GOP has." In this match up, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas came in second place with 14 percent, followed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich with 10 percent and Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas each with one percent. The poll found that 42 percent of respondents said they would "definitely" vote for Trump, while 24 percent were undecided.

Several Twitter users questioned why Fabrizio would say Trump was "crushing it," since he's only at 50 percent just seven months into his presidency, and he defended his word choice, arguing that it was a five-way field with "several well-known opponents, two of which ran against him previously. He is crushing Kasich or Cruz nearly 4 to 1." Others wondered why Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida wasn't part of the equation, along with the always popular "literally anyone else." Catherine Garcia

5:26 p.m. ET

A New York City councilman is urging police to investigate the property manager of a condo building in Queens that's adorned with images of guns, a swastika, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Josef Stalin, and Robert E. Lee.

The building's entryway features two 10-foot-tall statues of Uncle Sam and a crucifix. Once inside, residents are confronted with National Rifle Association stickers, a tribute to President Trump, and an array of images that includes Martin Luther King Jr., George Washington, and Jim Crow. The directory lists everyone from Nazis Rudolf Hess and Josef Mengel to rappers LL Cool J and Biggie Smalls.

In a rally Wednesday outside the building, Queens City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer declared the lobby "a hate crime." "I see and have had them tell me personally how afraid they are, and they're literally unable to speak out for fear of retaliation from this man, so we as a community have to speak out for them," Van Bramer told Gothamist. "If you put it all together — the images in the lobby with the fear I've been told firsthand by people who live there — you realize there's something much larger going on."

Residents say they believe the decor is the work of the building's property manager and board president, Neal Milano, who apparently has a track record of harassing tenants and condo owners. A lawsuit has been filed against Milano and the condo board, and the New York City Police Department's Hate Crime Unit has been alerted.

CBS New York reported that Milano is "currently out of the country, but his attorney said the murals were approved by the board" and that the posters are "patriotic and historical." Becca Stanek

4:11 p.m. ET
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For $1,000, you can buy a five-night cruise to the Bahamas, a new laptop, or a king-size mattress. Or, you know, you could buy Samsung's Galaxy Note 8. Shortly after debuting the new phone Wednesday, Samsung revealed that people are going to have to shell out a hefty $930 to get it.

Crazy as that price may sound, it's not wildly out of the range of what phones are costing nowadays. The upcoming iPhone 8 is estimated to cost more than $1,000. The Samsung Note 7, infamous for sometimes spontaneously combusting, cost more than $800 before it was discontinued.

The Verge noted that Samsung hasn't been selling its new Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus for full price "all that often," thanks to frequent deals. The phone also boasts some pretty high-tech features, like a massive infinity screen, dual mega-pixel cameras, and an S Pen Stylus that can translate complete sentences.

Still, watching $930 hit the ground when you inevitably drop your phone couldn't feel good. Becca Stanek

3:43 p.m. ET

Reuters had a bit of trouble writing a tweet on Wednesday about ESPN pulling announcer Robert Lee from covering a Virginia college football game because his name sounds too similar to the Confederate general's.

In their multiple attempts, Reuters both claimed that Lee — who is Asian-American — is a look-alike or supernatural twin of General Robert E. Lee, or had been directly named after him (he wasn't):

Writing, of course, is not easy, especially as ESPN's decision to pull Lee from the broadcast has been mocked as an overreaction to a non-controversy. "We're watching Reuters headline writers in real-time trying to figure out what was wrong with Lee broadcasting the game," joked one Twitter user.

In the end, Reuters offered a helpful clarification for anyone they might have confused. Jeva Lange

3:16 p.m. ET
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An estimated 25 million viewers tune in every Sunday for the latest episode in Game of Thrones' seventh season, but George R. R. Martin isn't among them. The author of Game of Thrones admitted in a recent interview with Metro U.K. that he has stopped watching the show.

Martin blamed his busy schedule of writing, travel, and speaking engagements for the lapse in his viewing, but Inverse pointed out he's been doing those things during the show's previous seasons and he's still tuned in. Admittedly, he is pushing to get the last book in the series, The Winds of Winter, out by next year, but he also said he is "in no rush to hit a particular deadline."

Up until the fifth season, Martin was still writing an episode per season, a commitment that would seemingly necessitate, well, watching the show. "The book series and TV adaptation go their separate ways," Martin said in his recent interview with Metro U.K. "On the screen characters are killed right and left. About twenty of them have died already, which are quite alive to me and will appear in a new book."

Perhaps Martin, like some other Game of Thrones fans, isn't pleased with this season's shaky logistics? Becca Stanek

2:54 p.m. ET

President Trump delivered a subdued teleprompter speech on Wednesday at the American Legion's national convention in Reno, Nevada, causing some people to marvel at the president's ability to change gears after his off-the-script rally on Tuesday in Phoenix, Arizona. "I have whiplash," said CNN's Brooke Baldwin. "It's which president will show up today?"

In Reno, Trump applauded "incredible progress" on reforming the Department of Veterans Affairs and called for a "new unity," telling Americans that "we are one people with one home and one great flag."

"This is the spirit we need to overcome our challenges, to pursue our common destiny, and to achieve a brighter future for our people," Trump went on. "We will win."

Watch below, and read more about Trump's wild Phoenix rally here at The Week. Jeva Lange

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