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AK Beat: Former state Sen. John Cowdery passes away

Long-time state legislator Cowdery remembered: Former State Senator John Cowdery has passed away, the Alaska Senate Majority announced Sunday. His wife Juanita said Friday that Cowdery, 83, was battling cancer and receiving hospice care.  Cowdery was involved in Alaska politics over the last 30 years but left office in 2008 after being implicated in the VECO scandal. Colleagues remember him as a visionary conservative able to work with everyone despite strong political views. Sen. Kevin Meyer, R-Anchorage, wrote Sunday: “We mourn the passage of former Sen. John Cowdery. He was a strong family man and lifelong Alaskan. He fought hard on the issues facing our state. Our thoughts and prayers go to Juanita and the entire Cowdery family.”

Stranded hikers rescued by Coast Guard: Three unprepared hikers stranded by the rising tide were rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard Sunday from Tonsina Point, some five miles south of Seward. The hikers set out late Saturday night with only a half-gallon of water and a few snacks. After a rising tide prevented the trio from returning, they started a fire.  Soon it was raining, and they lacked rain gear. They had brought a cell phone, however, and called Seward Police, which notified Coast Guard Sector Anchorage. The Coast Guard Cutter Mustang’s small boat crew rescued the trio. “Alaska’s extreme environment requires thoughtful preparation,” said Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Michael McCandless. “You never know when things will take a turn for the worse.” Hikers often use a coastal trail from Lowell Point south of Seward to the Caines Head State Recreation Area along Resurrection Bay. Tonsina Point is less than half way to Caines Head, or two miles from Lowell Point. The state Division of Parks & Outdoor Recreation website notes that a tidal trail begins at Tonsina Point, and “the next one and one-half miles must be crossed at a plus-4-foot low tide or lower during the summer to avoid getting stranded between the sea and the cliffs.”

Mosquito hordes descend on Arctic scientists: Jesse Krause posted a video July 1 on his Facebook page of conducting field work in northern Alaska, where the view is obscured by countless blood-thirsty mosquitoes. "Welcome to field work in the Arctic," he writes. Check it out:

Early-morning 4.4 quake rocks Kenai Peninsula: A 4.4 magnitude earthquake struck the Kenai Peninsula early Sunday morning, about 50 miles north of Homer, Alaska. The tremor hit 1:16 a.m. Sunday at a depth of 35 miles, according to the Alaska Earthquake Information Center. No tsunami warning was issued following the earthquake. Several aftershocks followed the initial tremor; one at 3:39 a.m. with a magnitude of 1.62, another at 7:38 a.m. with an unknown magnitude, and another at 7:51 a.m. at 2.19 magnitude. Did you feel the earthquake? Leave your observations in the comments below.