LAURELS & DARTS- Opinion from the Editors: Wednesday, November 27

DART to the four Rikers Island CORRECTION OFFICERS who allegedly stood by as a teenaged inmate attempted suicide last week. According to a New York Times report, 18-year-old Nicholas Feliciano tried to hang himself on Thanksgiving in full view of a guard desk and several cameras. Video footage reportedly shows officers watching as the teen hung from a pipe for seven minutes, at one point trying to reverse his decision by stepping back onto a partition, as the officers failed to intervene. One officer is allegedly shown opening the door to the pen where Feliciano was hanging, closing the door and walking away. The teen is now at a nearby hospital in a medically-induced coma with no brain activity. The four officers have been suspended as the Department of Investigation conducts an inquiry. At least 372 people have died in Department of Correction custody since 2001, the Queens Eagle reported in October. 

LAUREL to the CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS who proposed a package of laws to do away with paper receipts, which not only consume roughly 3 million trees each year, but are also typically coated with BPA or BPS, chemicals linked to hormone disruption, cancer and brain damage in humans. Under the new law, merchants would be required to offer customers email receipts or those not coated with the chemical. In Europe, the EU has already passed laws banning BPA-coated receipts by 2020. “Buying a candy bar shouldn’t require a 4-foot receipt, yet many retailers burn through unnecessary amounts of paper while exposing New Yorkers to harmful toxins,” said Councilmember Costa Constantinides in a statement. New York State recently passed another piece of environmentally-friendly retail legislation banning plastic bags from most shops. That law takes effect in March 2020. 

DART to the TRUMP ADMINISTRATION, for pushing forward a new rule that will cut access to food stamps for thousands of poor Americans in areas with high unemployment. Under previous rules, states could grant childless adults a waiver to continue receiving SNAP benefits past the 90-day cutoff if unemployment or underemployment in the area was above 10 percent. With that exception eliminated, the USDA estimates that around 688,000 people will lose food stamps. The change has been finalized by the Department of Agriculture and will go into effect unless it faces a congressional or court challenge before April 1, 2020. 

LAUREL to FERAL CAT PATROLS, which prowl the city’s bodegas, church grounds, construction sites and warehouses to curb the growing rat population. The NYC Feral Cat Initiative traps wild cat colonies, spays, neuters and vaccinates the animals, then returns them to their home turf, where they get back to work hunting the disease-carrying rodents. “We used to hire exterminators, but nature has a better solution,” Rebecca Marshall, sustainability manager at the Javits Center in Manhattan, told NBC4. A team of four cats from the program — Sylvester, Alfreda, Mama Cat and Ginger — patrol the center’s loading dock, repelling rats with their feline odor, but ready to pounce when necessary. With a volunteer team, the Feral Cat Initiative teaches New Yorkers how to trap feral “community cats” for vaccination and sterilization, return them to their territory and care for the working colony. 

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