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AK Beat: Chemical and Engineering News chimes in on McCandless death

Craig MedredAlaska Dispatch
Be sure to check out the Chemical and Engineering News' timeline of the constantly-fluctuating theories about what killed Chris McCandless more than 20 years ago at a now-famous abandoned bus along Alaska's Stampede Trail. Wikimedia user Erikhalfacre photo

Deeper into the rabbit hole: The debate over what killed Chris McCandless continues. After Jon Krakauer, bestselling outdoors writer and author of "Into the Wild," proposed yet another theory for what killed the 24-year-old in Alaska's backcountry in 1992, Alaska Dispatch writers Craig Medred and Dermot Cole questioned Krakauer's new conclusionKrakauer responded, and even got into a debate in the reader comments attached to the end of that story with organic chemist Thomas Clausen over the new theory. Now, Chemical and Engineering News has taken the controversy to a new level, with an in-depth analysis of the potential for the neurotoxin ODAP to be present in the seeds of the wild potato (it has to do with something called High-Performance Liquid Chromatography). It's all charts, graphs and wonk, so read the article for yourself and be sure to check out the timeline of the constantly-fluctuating prevailing theories of what killed McCandless more than 20 years ago.

Going with the flow: The state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities is going to try to clean out the Fox community well near Fairbanks by pumping forced air into it, hoping the pressure will dislodge debris and get the water flowing again from the 27-foot well. Bids on the job are to be opened Wednesday. The traditional watering hole dried up earlier this month.

Mental health nonprofits face criticism: In a House Finance Subcommittee meeting for the Department of Health and Social Services Monday, nonprofits told legislators that regulatory burdens have hampered their ability to effectively provide services. Some legislators fired back, questioning whether the programs -- like the Fairbanks-based Family Centered Services, Interior AIDS Association and AKEELA -- are making effective use of their funds, given their high administrative fees and employee payrolls. Some legislators argued that criticism was misdirected, since it's difficult to gauge a mental health program's effectiveness. The subcommittee hearing is the latest in a series of interim meetings to get a better understanding of the DHSS budget -- the state's largest.