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Drought blankets Beijing in thick, yellow dust storm

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BEIJING (AFP) – Beijingers woke up Saturday to find the Chinese capital blanketed in yellow dust, as a sandstorm caused by a severe drought in the north and in Mongolia swept into the city.

The storm, which earlier buffeted parts of northeastern China, brought strong winds and cut visibility in the capital.

Authorities issued a rare level five pollution warning, signalling hazardous conditions, and urged residents to stay indoors.

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Sandstorms frequently hit the arid north of China in the spring, when temperatures start to rise, stirring up clouds of dust that can travel across China, to South Korea and Japan and even as far as the United States.

Scientists blame a combination of deforestation and prolonged drought in northern China for the phenomenon.

Saturday’s storm was expected to last until Monday, the meteorological agency said in a statement on its website.

“I was amazed to see the ground had turned yellow overnight,” Beijing salesman Li Ming told the official Xinhua news agency. “It reminds me of the dirt road of my rural hometown.”

Another resident said the storm was worse than those in recent years.

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“Severe sandstorms like this happened very often in the 1980s and 1990s,” Beijing retiree Song Xiurong told Xinhua. “It hasn’t been that serious in the recent two or three years, as far as I remember.”

Xinhua reported that the storm, which came after an unusually humid winter and numerous blizzards, caught residents of the capital by surprise.

“The snow has certainly curbed local dust from flowing but sandstorms cannot disappear altogether as long as their origins still exist,” meteorological agency chief Guo Hu told the agency, adding that the vast deserts of China’s Inner Mongolia region were just 800 kilometres (500 miles) from Beijing.

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A sandstorm four years ago dumped at least 300,000 tonnes of sand on the capital.

China has 2.6 million square kilometres (one million square miles) of desert, an area nearly 2.5 times the country’s total farmland, according to government statistics released at the time.

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In the southwest of the country, drought has left 16 million people with a shortage of drinking water, according to a statement issued by the State Commission of Disaster Relief.

Since late last year, the provinces of Yunnan, Sichuan and Guizhou, have received only half their annual average rainfall, leaving water supplies severely depleted.

More than four million hectares (10 million acres) of land were affected and 4,000 troops have been deployed to help distribute emergency water supplies, Xinhua said.

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Trump supporter complains about being socially toxic: ‘People unfriend you’

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Fox News anchor Jeanine Pirro on Saturday complained about being judged by the content of her character.

"People unfriend you!' Pirro complained. "They don't want you to be a -- they don't want to communicate with you."

"People I've had at my wedding don't talk -- my children's weddings actually, they don't talk to me anymore," she explained.

"It's not usually the right or the left, I mean, the intolerance is on the left," she argued.

The longtime Trump friend was harshly criticized for her complaints. Here's some of what people were saying:

https://twitter.com/joshtpm/status/1282132522332282880

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Trump disappointed conservative media isn’t praising him enough for letting Roger Stone walk: report

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President Donald Trump has been disappointed in right-wing media for not giving him more credit for pardoning longtime advisor Roger Stone.

"A senior administration official said there were serious divisions among Trump’s aides and allies over Stone’s case, with some cautioning that keeping him out of prison could be politically risky. Among those opposed was Attorney General William P. Barr, who called the prosecution 'righteous' in an interview Wednesday with ABC News, the official said, adding that those pushing Trump to show loyalty to Stone included Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who is close to the president," The Washington Post reported Saturday.

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2020 Election

WATCH: GOP congressman suffers coughing fit — while praising Trump at mask-optional GOP convention

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Republicans in the swing state of Wisconsin gathered in Green bay for a mask-optional convention on Saturday.

"Speakers at the convention also praised Trump's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the president's push to reopen the nation's economy and schools. More than 300 people attended the GOP state convention, with few in attendance wearing face masks, as [recommended] by public health officials," the State Journal reported Saturday.

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