Media Watch

Terrorism Rocks Philippine Island

XINHUA NEWS AGENCY, March 19 –– Two attempted terrorist attacks were recently thwarted in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, the news agency reported.

On March 18, an army unit detonated an improvised bomb found in Immaculate Conception Cathedral in the southern city of Cotabato. The previous night, another explosive fired from a grenade launcher landed on the roof of a house in the same city. No one was hurt in either incident.

The Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force in Mindanao said officials are still examining the incidents carefully. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the country's largest armed rebel group, has been fighting for more than two decades to establish an independent Islamic state in the island. Philippines President Gloria Arroyo has declared a unilateral truce with the group and freed a number of jailed rebels to convince them to restart peace negotiations.

Lebanese Catholics Operate TV Network

THE DAILY STAR, March 17–– Tele-Lumiere, now in its 10th year, is the Middle East's first Catholic television station. And, according to the Lebanese daily, it's thriving.

What began as a one-room, part-time operation in 1991 has blossomed into a multi-story, 24-hour-a-day affair thanks to a mega-antenna on top of a mountain near the station's studio in the Lebanese city of Dora. TeleLumiere now reaches homes from Syria to Jordan and Palestine, and has viewers as far south as Alexandria, Egypt.

Known in-house as the “Continuous Miracle,” Tele-Lumiere has obtained funding by selling videocassettes at $20 each as well as religious paraphernalia such as rosaries, books and pictures of the saints. It also has a travel department that organizes pilgrimages to Medugorje.

Donations come from individuals both in Lebanon and abroad and take various forms. Marie-Therese Kreidy, head of Tele-Lumiere's public relations department, said she “honestly doesn't know” where money to support the station comes from, adding, “somehow, it always comes when we most need it.”

Portugal Grants Homosexuals Rights of Marriage

ASSOCIATED PRESS, March 16 –– Same-sex Portuguese couples who have lived together for more than two years have been granted the same rights as married heterosexual couples in the predominantly Catholic country, the news service reported.

The Portuguese National Assembly voted March 15 to extend some legal and tax benefits to homosexual couples. The vote, which pitted the left-of-center majority against the right-of-center opposition, came after years of lobbying by homosexual groups.

A proposal to include same-sex relationships in common-law marriage legislation was rejected in 1999, according to the Associated Press. But it picked up support after alterations were made to the tax provisions of the bill.

Like most of Europe, Portugal does not allow same-sex marriages. But, as part of the European Community, it must grant the rights for homosexuals outlined in the Community's statutes.

Last December, the Netherlands became the first nation in the world to include homosexual couples in its definition of marriage.