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Feds accuse Redding woman of faking kidnapping | Shasta supervisor wants health officer evaluation | Researcher says cities must mitigate climate change

The latest North State and California news on our airwaves for Friday, March 4.

Federal prosecutors accuse Shasta County woman of faking kidnapping

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Sacramento has accused Sherri Papini, 39, of Redding of faking her kidnapping in a case that garnered extensive media attention in 2016, according to a news release.

Papini who prosecutors said was arrested Thursday on charges of lying to federal agents and mail fraud — was reported missing in November 2016, setting off a nationwide search. She was found several weeks later in Yolo County near Woodland with bindings and injuries on her body, including a brand on her shoulder.

Papini allegedly told investigators she was abducted and held at gunpoint by two Hispanic women. Prosecutors say the story was a fabrication, alleging instead that she had been voluntarily staying with a former boyfriend in the Los Angeles area and harmed herself to support her story.

Prosecutors also allege Papini’s requests for victim assistance through the California Victim Compensation Board resulted in more than $30,000 in payments from 2017 through 2021.

The charge of making false statements to federal agents carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, and the mail fraud charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

It was not immediately clear whether Papini has an attorney.

— Andre Byik, NSPR

New Shasta supes chairman sets pandemic-related priorities

The Shasta County Board of Supervisors unanimously elected longtime Supervisor Les Baugh as its new chairman. He replaces former chairman Leonard Moty, who was recalled last month and succeeded by Tim Garman.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Baugh laid out a list of crowd-pleasing priorities, including instituting more lenient public comment protocols and several pandemic-related items.

“I would like for reconsideration and possible elimination of all Shasta County employee COVID mandates,” Baugh said to sustained cheers in the board’s chambers.

A similar item failed in a 2-2 vote last month, and the Redding Record Searchlightreports any future vote would be symbolic because the county is required to follow state health rules.

Baugh went on to request a closed-session employee evaluation of the county’s health officer. He also said he wants staff to conduct a review of the Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency for “possible efficiency changes and reorganization.”

He noted he is not looking to eliminate the health department, but he said department employees have approached him under fear of losing their jobs to voice concerns about its operation.

— Andre Byik, NSPR

Climate change is a ‘threat multiplier.’ This researcher says it’ll take cities to stop its effects

The results of this week’s United Nations climate report warn that the effects of climate change are severe, and coming faster than expected. In California, warming temperatures are already worsening drought conditions, rain storms and wildfires.

To combat these impacts, it’ll take fast, aggressive action toward cutting greenhouse gas emissions. And researchers like Eric Chu, an assistant professor at UC Davis who co-directs the university’s Climate Adaptation Research Center say cities are key to these efforts.

“Whatever risks and vulnerabilities that we're facing day to day, climate change risks magnifying that,” he said.

Chu said the options for adapting to climate change will only become more limited for cities. Read the full story.

— CapRadio News

UC Davis researchers working to adapt wheat to climate change

An ongoing program to speed up the development of new wheat strains is taking place at UC Davis.

The grain is critical to the food supply, providing more than 20% of the world’s nutrition. UC Davis researcher, Dr. Jorge Dubcovsky, said varieties are needed that are adapted to climate change.

“People don’t think about agriculture or food production when there is food,” he said. “But when there is no food, that’s the only thing they can think about.”

The breeding program was recently awarded a five-year $15 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Researchers worldwide are racing ahead on similar projects for other crops.  

— Ken Devol, NSPR

Newsom proposes plan to compel people with severe mental illness into treatment

Gov. Gavin Newsom has unveiled a proposal that would force homeless people with severe mental illness or addictions into treatment.

The plan – called CARE Court – would require all counties to set up a mental health branch in civil court to assist people in need of help but who refuse to accept services.

"I mean, we could hold hands, have a candlelight vigil, talk about the way the world should be, or we could take some damn responsibility to implement our ideals and that's what we're doing differently,” Newsom said. “And this CARE Court, it's going to be stubborn, we've got work to do, we've got to get approved by the Legislature, we want to move this in the next couple of months."

Under Newsom's plan, the state would require counties to provide comprehensive treatment to those suffering from debilitating psychosis, and they would be obligated to accept care. Some advocates for the homeless have objected to forced care. Read the full story.

— CapRadio Staff

Stories from NPR partner stations are edited by NSPR Staff for digital presentation and credited as requested.

In other news

  • Five Chico State professors analyze Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: “At the time of a panel discussion Wednesday at Chico State, the most successful Russian attack appeared in the southern city of Kherson with a population of almost 300,000 which fell on Wednesday, said John Crosby, political science and criminal justice lecturer.” — Chico Enterprise-Record

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Sarah has worked at North State Public Radio since 2015 and is currently the station’s Director of Operations. She’s responsible for the sound of the station and works to create the richest public radio experience possible for NSPR listeners.
A graduate of California State University, Chico, Andre Byik is an award-winning journalist who has reported in Northern California since 2012. He joined North State Public Radio in 2020, following roles at the Chico Enterprise-Record and Chico News & Review.
Angel Huracha has been a part of the journalism field since 2006 and has covered a range of topics. He is a graduate of Chico State with a Bachelor's degree in news-editorial and public relations with a minor in English.
Matt Fidler is a producer and sound designer with over 15 years’ experience producing nationally distributed public radio programs. He has worked for shows such as Freakonomics Radio, Selected Shorts, Studio 360, The New Yorker Radio Hour and The Takeaway. In 2017, Matt launched the language podcast Very Bad Words, hitting the #28 spot in the iTunes podcast charts.