US Agency Predicts Strong Geomagnetic Storm on Saturday

The U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center has issued a warning for a strong geomagnetic storm Saturday, saying power and communications systems could be affected in the Northern Hemisphere after a significant solar flare was observed on the sun. 

In a statement on its website, the agency said G3, or strong geomagnetic storm conditions, were observed from 0900 to 1200 UTC Friday.  

A geometric storm, the agency says, is “a stronger disturbance in the Earth’s magnetic field, often varying in intensity over the course of some hours.” 

The agency said the increase in geomagnetic activity was primarily caused by a coronal mass ejection (CME) from the sun associated with a moderate solar flare observed Tuesday, which joined several other lesser CMEs that were already headed toward Earth. 

CMEs are powerful eruptions on the sun’s surface that send tons of superheated gas and radiation into space. 

These often head toward Earth, and while harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth’s atmosphere to physically affect humans, if the flare is strong enough, it can disturb the layer in the atmosphere where GPS and other communication signals travel. 

The agency said it has alerted infrastructure operators, such as power companies, to take precautions to mitigate any possible effects. 

The strong geomagnetic storm warning is valid through late Friday, with G1, or minor geomagnetic storms expected through Saturday.  

The effect from the geomagnetic storm most noticeable to the general public could be the aurora borealis, also known as the northern lights. 

The Washington Post said Friday that colorful auroras were reported at least as far south as the southwestern state of Arizona in the United States, with vibrant displays reported at higher latitudes.  

Reports of auroras from Australia were posted on social media as well. 

On World AIDS Day, Biden Vows to Stop Spread of HIV Worldwide by 2030

Friday is the 35th annual World AIDS Day, a time to remember the estimated 40.4 million lives lost to HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, since the epidemic began in 1981.

Worldwide, more than 39 million people live with HIV, upwards of 1 million Americans among them.

In a statement Friday, President Joe Biden said that America is “within striking distance of eliminating HIV-transmission.” Biden vowed that his focus is ensuring that by 2030, the immunodeficiency virus will no longer be a public health threat worldwide.

Biden said he plans to extend the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS relief, or PEPFAR, for five more years.

The White House says PEPFAR, a bipartisan initiative launched two decades ago under then-President George W. Bush, has saved more than 25 million lives in 50 plus countries and prevented millions of HIV transmissions by providing access to lifesaving treatment and testing, according to the White House.

Among Biden’s goals is to stop the anti-gay stigma surrounding AIDS, which is more prevalent among gay men than the general population. “This year,” Biden said, “my Administration also ended the disgraceful practice of banning gay and bisexual men from donating blood.”

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said in a press release Friday that PEPFAR is also investing in strategies that partner countries are taking to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Ebola, cholera, H1N1 influenza, mpox and tuberculosis, with the goal of stifling future pandemics. 

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Women Living with HIV Get Support in Mozambique

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Scientists Say 2023 Amazon Drought Most Severe in Recorded History

Scientists say that in 2023, the Amazon region experienced the most severe drought in its recorded history. Rivers and lakes reached record low levels before rising in recent weeks. Thousands of people were isolated because of the lack of water in tributaries. Scientists say this should be considered a warning of what climate change can do. Yan Boechat reports from Manaus, Brazil.

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