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Hanging noose Halloween display a painful reminder of lynching in America, neighbor says

Halloween decorations featuring a body hanging from a noose startled neighbors in a Marietta, Georgia, community. The display includes tombstones, witches and skeletons, in addition to what appears to be a man with a hood over his head, with hands and feet tied, swinging from a rope.

>> Watch the news report here

"I just feel like Halloween is not an excuse to use that kind of symbolism," said one neighbor, who wanted to remain anonymous.

She said she noticed the display Monday while going for a walk on Caribou Place. She said she was horrified by the display, took a picture and shared it. She told WSB-TV that she wanted to start a conversation about why the display is a painful reminded of lynching in America.

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"What's even scarier is people are going to ask, 'Well, did you go up and ask them?'" she said. "I felt scared to go to their front door because I don't know what kind of people live in that household."

WSB-TV's Carl Willis went to the home with the neighbor's concerns. A man who answered the door said it was his roommate who strung up the display. He took Willis' information, but no one responded.

Several neighbors said they didn't find a problem with the imagery. That troubled the concerned neighbor even more. 

>> ‘This is Halloween decoration, not dead body,’ police warn public

"This is 2017. We need to change it, and if that is your typical Halloween decoration, then it's absolutely not OK," she said. "It was not OK when we did it back in the day, and it's not OK now."

As it turns out, the people who simulated a man being hanged from a tree may have received that message. When Willis returned to the home to follow up, the display had been taken down.

"To be quite honest with you, it's very scary that people think that's acceptable," said the neighbor.

Barack Obama’s birthday is now a holiday in Illinois

To celebrate former President Barack Obama’s 56th birthday, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner officially named the day a holiday in Illinois as a gift to Obama.

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All it took was Rauner’s signature to officially name Aug. 4 Obama Day, a day to celebrate, reflect and honor the Chicago-based former president. Ending his political career as 44th president of the United States, Obama’s rise in politics began when he was elected Illinois state senator, which led to his election in the U.S. Senate.

RELATED: Former President Obama unveiled plans for his future presidential center in Chicago

With the new holiday in place some Chicagoans may wonder about work and school closings, but life will continue on as normal on Obama Day, according to NBC Chicago. The day of honor will not get Chicagoans a day off of work or school, but it will still be there to remind them of the accomplishments made by the former president.

While Rauner’s original plan was to make the day a legal holiday, this was halted by his concerns for the economic impact it could have on the state at a time when lawmakers are struggling to pay a $15 billion backlog of bills, according to DNAinfo.

"It's incredibly proud for Illinois that the president came from Illinois. I think it's awesome, and I think we should celebrate it," Rauner said back in February. "I don't think it should be a formal holiday with paid, forced time off, but I think it should be a day of acknowledgment and celebration."

Supporters of Obama embraced the day, taking to social media with the hashtag #ObamaDay to post some of their favorite memories of the Obama term and to wish the former president a happy birthday.

World Emoji Day: Fun symbols celebrated with contests, tributes

Emoji fans, today's your day.

Tourist attractions, businesses and social-media users around the globe Monday are celebrating the fourth annual World Emoji Day, a tribute to everyone's favorite fun symbols.

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Is an emoji worth 1,000 words? Maybe not, but the smiley faces and other colorful icons have become a popular form of self-expression.

Officially, there are currently 2,666 emojis, according to the BBC.

>> Click here or scroll down for more

Woman loses fingers trying to set off fireworks

A Massachusetts woman lost several fingers while trying to set off fireworks in Wakefield on Tuesday night. 

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Police responded around 10:15 p.m. to a playground near the Wakefield Common. Officers said the woman, in her 50s, was trying to set off powerful M-100 fireworks when she lost her fingers. 

"This is the second straight year that someone has been seriously hurt while using fireworks illegally," Chief Rick Smith said. "The town goes to great lengths to put on an organized fireworks display, so there is absolutely no excuse for putting yourself and others in harm's way by setting fireworks off on your own."

No one else was injured.

>> Related: Man loses several fingers in Fourth of July fireworks explosion

A similar accident was reported Tuesday night in Quincy, about 20 miles south of Wakefield. Police said a man's hand was partially amputated when a firework exploded as he attempted to light it.

Fireworks show canceled after debris sparks brush fire

Officials in Pennsylvania were forced to cut short a Fourth of July fireworks show Tuesday after falling debris apparently sparked a brush fire, according to multiple reports.

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The fireworks show was presented by Hersheypark, one of Pennsylvania’s best-known amusement parks. The show started at 10:15 p.m. but was stopped and later canceled after the fire started around 10:30 p.m., according to the Hershey Fire Department.

Hersheypark officials apologized in a social media post Tuesday night.

"We believe that the fireworks accidentally set off the fire," Hershey fire Capt. Dennis Thompson told PennLive.com.

The fire burned less than two acres before it was brought under control, about 25 minutes after it was sparked, PennLive.com reported.

No injuries were reported.

Donald Trump supporters upset after NPR tweets quotes from Declaration of Independence

A Fourth of July celebration by public radio stirred up an online controversy over the holiday.

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NPR, on its program “Morning Edition,” has traditionally celebrated Independence Day by having its reporters, newscasters, commentators and hosts read the Declaration of Independence, one of the most important documents in the history of the United States.

>> Related: Ancestry finds, interviews descendants of the Founding Fathers

But when NPR tweeted the entirety of the Declaration of Independence line by line, some supporters of President Donald Trump mistook the act’s intention and meaning. They did not seem to be aware that the tweets were taken from the Declaration, nor that reading from the document was NPR’s holiday tradition.

RELATED: On the Fourth of July, Arnold Schwarzenegger thanks the U.S.A. for making his “impossible dream a reality”

Presumably, some of the president’s uninformed supporters on Twitter believed that NPR was showing political bias and purposefully riling the right by criticizing Trump.

One such Twitter user shot back at NPR, saying, “@NPR this is why you're going to get defunded,” in reference to Trump’s budget.

The Declaration of Independence was originally written by Thomas Jefferson and was adopted by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. It laid out the 13 colonies’ intention to separate from the Kingdom of Britain and form an independent union. It is not generally considered a partisan document.

However, tweets continued to pour in.

One woman suggested NPR’s account had been hacked, while another Twitter user told NPR, “Please stop. This is not the right place.” Another user told NPR, “Please be chill.”

“NPR is calling for revolution,” one user wrote. “Interesting way to condone the violence while trying to sound ‘patriotic.’ Your implications are clear.”

American history doesn’t seem to be a well-known topic on Twitter.

10 ways to enjoy Fourth of July fireworks safely

With the national fireworks holiday here, it’s a good time to review safety guidelines that will keep everyone safe and enjoying the show.

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Here are 10 tips to keep in mind:

1. Keep water nearby

When you light fireworks, you are literally playing with fire. Keep a bucket of water, a fire extinguisher or a working hose within easy reach just in case your clothes, the pile of dry leaves you didn’t notice, or any other flammable object gets one too many sparks.

2. Don’t let children use fireworks unattended

Children and fireworks are both miniature explosives, so putting them together is a bad idea. Even seemingly harmless sparklers can burn tiny hands and arms. If it’s hot enough to melt metal, it’s hot enough to burn your child.

3. Designate an official lighter

Choose one responsible adult to light the fuses. You avoid potential accidents with only one person in charge.

It should go without saying, but the designated lighter should not be under the influence. Alcohol, fire, and explosions are not a good mix.

RELATED: Celebrating independence with fireworks: An American tradition since 1777

4. If it’s a dud, it’s still dangerous

A dud can still explode even after it appears to have gone out. Your best bet is to soak it with water and leave it alone for at least 20 minutes.

In the case of bottle rockets that don’t ignite, DO NOT look into the opening. People have reportedly died from fireworks to the eye while making that exact move.

5. Fireworks are not throwing toys

It sounds like a story that starts with “Hold my beer and watch this,” but every year there are stories of injuries caused by people throwing fireworks.

Would you want someone throwing a lit cherry bomb at you? No, so don’t play around, even in a joking manner, with any fireworks.

6. Keep a safe space

What kind of fireworks you are using will determine how far is a safe distance for onlookers. In most cases, a distance of about 20 feet will work, but practice good judgment. Larger explosions require more distance.

7. Wear safety glasses

Safety glasses can save your eyes when sparks shoot around and jumping jacks fly into the air.

While it might not be possible for everyone to have safety glasses, the lighter should definitely have them.

8. Obey the law

Another somewhat self-explanatory tip, but obey the local laws when using fireworks. It is easy for stray fireworks to end up on a neighbor’s roof or to hit a passing car.

Check your local ordinances to find out what rules your town or city has for personal fireworks.

RELATED: Which fireworks cause the most injuries?

9. Listen to fire safety reports

If there’s a drought, it’s not a good idea to blast off fireworks. Dry leaves, trees, and grass can easily ignite if a spark from a firework lands in the right place. If those dry leaves are on the roof of your house or a neighbor’s house, you could have a fireworks display that will ruin your day.

If your local fire department prohibits fireworks until after a good rain, listen to them.

10. Only buy legal fireworks

Don’t buy explosives from an unknown vendor.

Legal consumer fireworks will have labels and instructions on them. If they don’t, then they are either for professionals or manufactured illegally. In either case, those aren’t the fireworks you want to set off around your friends and family.

Notable figures mark Fourth of July on social media

Notable figures are marking the Fourth of July holiday with special greetings on social media.

Everyone from President Donald Trump to Paris Hilton are posting videos, photos and messages showing how they are celebrating the holiday.

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Which fireworks cause the most injuries?

Independence Day is upon us, and lots of us will celebrate by watching fireworks – or shooting off our own.

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All that firepower results in thousands of injuries and a handful of fatalities each year, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

“On average, 250 people go to the emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries in the month around the July 4 holiday,” the agency notes. “Remember, fireworks can be dangerous, causing serious burn and eye injuries.”

According to a month-long report conducted by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission during the summer of 2015, of the approximately 8,000 injuries caused by fireworks, sparklers caused the most injuries and rockets caused the second most.

Here are some more of the agency’s findings:

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