Major earthquake in northern Philippines: serious damage and casualties

Today's headlines: Pakistan Supreme Court confirms election of Imran Khan's ally as Punjab leader; in less than a month, 60 seminars in Hong Kong on Xi Jinping's speech; Family of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in Washington to demand justice; Massive increase in military spending in Kazakhstan.


A strong earthquake measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale struck Abra province in northern Luzon this morning. At least two people are reported dead so far, and damage to structures is extensive. The tremor was also felt in Manila. 


In a much awaited verdict, the Pakistan Supreme Court confirmed the election of Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi as Prime Minister of the Punjab region. The inauguration - awhich the ruling party in Islamabad had appealed against - marks a point in favour of Imran Khan's party in the country's ongoing political power struggle.


The 72 year old Syro-Malabar archbishop Antony Kariyil, archiepiscopal vicar of Ernakulam-Angamaly, has tendered his resignation to the Pope. The prelate had been the reference point for those opposed to the 'unified liturgy' that came into effect with the support of Pope Francis after a long clash that divided this ancient Eastern-rite Church. 


In less than a month, the Hong Kong government and pro-Beijing organisations have already held more than 60 seminars to extol the virtues of Chinese President Xi Jinping's speech on 1 July, when he visited the city and officiated at the swearing-in of the new administration led by John Lee.  


China has stopped funding and investing in Russia for the 'Belt and Road' project for the first half of 2022. Saudi Arabia is the largest beneficiary for this period, with .5 billion received from Beijing out of a total budget of .4 billion, slightly less than last year's .6 billion. In all since 2013, the project has moved 2 billion.


Family members of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, killed on 11 May during an Israeli army raid in Jenin, met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington to renew their demand for the truth about her death. "Since President Biden did not come to us in Jerusalem to listen to our grief, outrage and concerns about his administration's lack of response to the extrajudicial killing of Shireen, we have decided to address him," the Abu Akleh family said in a statement. 


Kazakhstan has suddenly increased its military spending considerably, expanding its spheres of cooperation with both NATO and China, fearing to be the next target of Russia's geopolitical ambitions. Over 900 million dollars more were allocated to defence, out of the country's total budget of 1.7 billion dollars.