Author Archives | jmt2180

New Name For Asperger’s, Same Challenges For Sufferers

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INTRO: The new handbook for mental illnesses is coming out later this month — and with it comes changes to the understanding of Asperger’s Syndrome. It’s a disorder on the Autism spectrum. And has been recognized that way by American doctors since 1994. But new terminology in the manual will eliminate Asperger’s as its own disorder. Jeff Tyson reports that it doesn’t change the experience for those who have it.

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Suspects’ Ethnicity Forces Chechnya Into The Spotlight

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Ever since the two suspects of the Boston Marathon bombing and shootout were identified as Chechen, attention on their ethnic identity. Chechnya is a small region in southwest Russia that was split into two parts after the fall of the Soviet Union. It’s part of an area known as the Caucasus. Lincoln Mitchell is a professor at Columbia University who studies the region.

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Politics And Activism Divide New York Clergy Members

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HOST: The tension between religion and politics is fundamental to America’s identity. According to a survey conducted by the National Opinion Research Center, more than 60 percent of Americans say religious leaders shouldn’t try to influence government. This issue is sure to come up as New York City prepares for a heated mayoral race. As Jeff Tyson reports, religion and government are frequently interacting, but their relationship is not so simple.

NARR: It’s 11am on a sunny April Sunday. At the Park Avenue Christian Church on the east side of Manhattan,
Reverend Peter Heltzel is in the pews, singing, and worshipping with the congregation.

Sound of singing and tapping

But as a religious leader, Heltzel does more than preach and worship on Sunday. In his office at the
Union Theological Seminary, he says when it comes to politics, he can’t sit on the sidelines.

HELTZEL: What we have going on is a system that is producing oppression, exploitation, greed,
consumerism… It’s time for faith leaders to wake up. Preachers have to be involved in politics.

Heltzel says Mayor Bloomberg is running the city like a business…that he’s lost touch with the plight of
the poor. He says his controversial policy of stop and frisk is immoral and sinful.

HELTZEL: Do we sit here, and go to our synagogues, our mosques, and our churches, and simply worship the divine through our symbols, or do we leave these houses of worship, and go out into the streets of the city, and do something that’s gonna affect positive change?

For Mayor, Heltzel wants Democrat Bill DeBlasio. He thinks he’ll stand up for New Yorker’s whose backs
are up against the wall. But speaking on the phone with another faith leader, he says that what’s most
important to him is that clergy members unite to support one candidate.

HELTZEL: At the end of the day, off-line, down by the riverside, back room, we gotta decide as clergy who we’re gonna back up, and we’re gunna have to all go with that. Follow what I’m sayin’?

But other New York religious leaders feel politics shouldn’t mix at all with their religion. One with this
view is Cameron Kelly, who is First Councilor to the Bishop in the Harlem ward of the Mormon Church.

KELLY: If there were something like a rally, I wouldn’t go to that rally in my church clothes, in my suit and tie, as a leader of the latter day saint community in Harlem. I would go as me, Cameron Kelly, Harlem resident.

Other faith leaders take a stance somewhere in the middle.

Clapping sound

At a clergy luncheon at the Latino Pastoral Action Center in the Highbridge section of the Bronx, about
20 members of New York clergy gather to discuss how to create positive community change. And after
two hours, there’s very little consensus. Many agree with Reverend Jennifer Kottler, who says that as a
religious leader, she makes a distinction between endorsing policies, and endorsing candidates.

KOTTLER: I get into uncomfortable waters when we start talking about particular parties, or individuals within parties.

Even academics struggle with how to think about religion in the scope of politics.

Charles Dunn, a professor of Government at Regent University in Virginia, says it’s not easy to set a line
in politics that religious leaders can’t cross.

DUNN: If there is a line, it meanders, it wanders around.

Legally, churches can lose their status as non-profits if their clergy are actively endorsing candidates
from the pulpit. But still, in New York City, black religious leaders are some of the most politically
powerful. And according to Dunn, political endorsements in churches are not new.

DUNN: Particularly in the black church, those endorsements have been made for many years, from the pulpit.

Dunn says that in fact, the constitution doesn’t mention separation of Church and State. He says that
was an idea that originated from Thomas Jefferson in his letter to the Danbury Baptists. And he says
while it’s important to exercise caution in what you say, we have to look at the First Amendment.

DUNN: I think we run into trouble when we try to limit what religious leaders can say.

But Cameron Kelly, the Mormon community leader in Harlem points out.. some political ideas are more
easily expressed than others in New York City.

KELLY: New York is a great place to be a believer because people have so much respect for other
people’s beliefs. But, it’s not always an easy place to be a Republican, which is kind of funny to me.

Republicans have been saying that for a while, and so far in the upcoming mayoral election, that have
just three declared candidates.

Jeff Tyson, Columbia Radio News.

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Former Counter-Terror Official Talks Police Playbook

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As police in Boston conduct their manhunt for the final suspect in the marathon bombing, I spoke with Nicholas Casale. He’s a former MTA Deputy Director of Counterterrorism. He gives us the behind the scenes perspective from the police on what’s happening right now in Boston.

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U.S. Soccer Centennial Takes Manhattan

U.S. Soccer Centennial Takes Manhattan

U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati poses with coaches, players, and former players in the lobby of the Empire State building to celebrate the 100th anniversary of U.Ss Soccer, Apr. 5, 2013. (Jeff Tyson/Uptown Radio)

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One hundred years ago today, soccer became an official U.S. sport. The U.S. soccer Federation is marking the centennial with a week of activities in lower Manhattan. As Jeff Tyson reports.

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An Unlikely New Church In The Home of The Vatican

An Unlikely New Church In The Home of The Vatican

The building site of the first Mormon temple in Rome, Italy. (Jeff Tyson/Uptown Radio)

HOST INTRO: Italy — a country known for its strong Catholic presence, also is home to nearly 25,000 Mormons. Jeff Tyson reports Rome will soon become the site of country’s first Mormon Temple.

Francis was officially inaugurated as pope on March 19th and Catholics in St. Peters Square celebrated.

Sound of cheering/singing

But just 8 miles away, within the city limits of Rome, a Mormon Temple is being built—the first in the
city, the first in Italy, and the first in the entire Mediterranean region. Italian Mormons already gather at
numerous chapels for Sunday worship. But a Temple is something different.

Lacey: It’s literally heaven on Earth.

Clay Lacey is a twenty-year-old Mormon from California. Like many Mormons his age, Lacey is a
missionary. He has been in Italy for almost 2 years. He says according to Mormon belief, a Temple is a
link between Earth and the afterlife.

Lacey: The whole point of the Temples is to seal us for eternity with our families, to really connect us,
cause one thing that’s inevitable in life, is death, and something that we don’t really understand as
human beings, but with the Temple kind of gives us an eternal perspective of things.

The Mormon Temple in Rome will be the twelfth in Europe. It will be 40,000 square feet, with an
exterior of white granite and marble. Right now, slabs of the granite stone are being attached to a still
rising frame. Lacy says when it’s done, he hopes the Temple will clear up confusion Italians have about
his faith.

Lacey: There are a lot of wrong ideas that Italians have about our church. They think we’re.. the
Mormons run around with long beards, and still live, you know, back in the sixteen hundreds, or the
seventeen hundreds, I don’t know. Almost everybody is like that almost.

There have been Mormons in Italy since the 1850s, but due to local opposition, they were banned
from proselytizing until 1965. Even more significantly, the Italian government just last year recognized
Mormonism as an official religion. For Italian Mormons like Alessandro Dini Ciacci, the new Temple is a

Ciacci: To me, as a Mormon living in Rome, this is a dream come true.

Ciacci is the Director of Public Affairs for the Mormon Church in Rome. He was raised in a Catholic family
in the south of Italy and he converted to Mormonism when he was 18. He says right now, to worship in
a Temple, he has to drive or fly to the nearest one in Bern, Switzerland.

Ciacci: Having a Temple here, close by, it means that if I’m feeling down, if I need answers, if I just
want to go worship my lord, or perform ordinances for my family or my ancestors, I can just drive
there in less than an hour.

Having a Temple close by is also exciting for Fausto D’Apuzzo. He is a 26-year-old Italian who grew up
Mormon, and since he was twelve, he would take a bus every summer to the Temple in Bern—a trip
that took 15 hours. He says a new Temple near the center of Catholicism is a pride thing for Mormons.

D’Apuzzo: It’s funny I heard some tourists, Mormon tourists thinking, oh, so is the Rome Temple right
in front of the Vatican? It’s like no, it’s kind of far away.

But he hopes the Temple will still be near enough to help Italians understand the Mormon Church.

D’Apuzzo: Strong Italian Catholics sometimes are not very open to other religions, and maybe there
will be rumors about some bad things happening in the Temple, but I’m hoping that most of the
people will actually get to know the truth, what we are, and what we do.

D’Apuzzo says many of his friends just don’t know anything about Mormonism. But he could talk about
his church forever. He says that because it’s been his whole life. Now he even jokes that he and his
Canadian girlfriend will be the first couple to get married in the new Temple when it is completed in

Jeff Tyson, Columbia Radio News.

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Discovering My Father’s Legacy

Discovering My Father’s Legacy

Ave Maria Oratory nave

The nave of the Ave Maria Oratory in Florida. (Jeff Tyson/Uptown Radio)

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Jeff Tyson’s father spent much of his career as an engineer designing ordinary structures.

But after he died at age 50, Jeff saw that his dad had built something timeless and extraordinary.

Narration time (2:49)

I rarely asked my dad about his job. He worked long hours, but when he came home he wouldn’t talk about it with me and my sister. He knew we were more interested in our band concerts and soccer games. What I did know was that he was a structural engineer. He designed common necessities, like trusses for highway bridges, and parking garages. Sometimes he would design the steeples of local churches. I knew he was good at his job, and I was always proud of

what he did, but I wasn’t very interested in what I knew about his work. And he didn’t mind. He would smile when I told him I dreamed of being an archeologist digging up lost treasures, not working with rulers, triangle tools and calculators the way he did. We laughed about our differences.

When I was in middle school, my dad took a job offer from a company two hours away from where we lived. All I really understood at the time was that he took the new job because of a project the company was planning to work on—building a church in Florida or something like that. For five years he commuted two hours each way to and from work. He often wouldn’t come home at night. Moving closer to his new job would have been a lot more convenient, but he worried about forcing me to change schools. I could see his devotion through the sacrifices he made, but during those five years, I asked him more about the audio books he would listen to on his drive than I would about his work once he got to the office.

When I was 18, my dad was diagnosed with cancer. He went through one major surgery, and two years of painful treatments. Eventually he stopped going to work, and before he passed away, my mom, my sister and I spent as much time with him as we could. After his funeral, my dad’s company got the three of us plane tickets to Florida, to see the result of this project my dad had completed shortly before he died—this church he had built over the course of five years.

It was one year later when we hopped on a plane to Naples Florida and drove to the Ave Maria Oratory. The pictures we’d seen were impressive, but they didn’t do justice to what we saw in person. My dad had built a Cathedral, more or less,– a 27,000 square foot structure with steel beams intertwining in arches within a towering nave. It won an award for engineering innovation, and a stone plaque near the entrance read, “In Memory of Thomas R. Tyson, Structural Engineer of the Oratory.” In the middle ages, a feat like this was the height of human accomplishment and ingenuity. I realized my dad had built something that people would be able to admire for centuries.

As I walked under the beams my dad had engineered, I tried to picture him laboring over drawings or consulting with architects before a two hour commute back home. I longed to go back to one of those days, so I could wait for him to pull his car into the driveway, sit him down at our kitchen table and ask him all about his day. I’d ask him detailed questions, the way a journalist would, and I wouldn’t let him sleep until he told me everything.

Back announce: Jeff plans to revisit the Ave Maria Oratory, and would go back every year if he could. (5

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Group Says City Shelter Population Reaches New High

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Host Intro: The Coalition for the Homeless released an annual report on Tuesday that showed that a record average of 50,000 people stayed in homeless shelters during the month of January. I spoke with Giselle Routier, who is a policy analyst at the Coalition for the Homeless.

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U.S. Catholics Prep For New Pope and New Possibilities

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On Monday, Roman Catholic Cardinals will meet to organize the election of a successor to Pope Benedict the 16th. Some U.S. Catholics see the upcoming transition as an opportunity for the church to make some changes, especially when it comes to matters of sexual orientation and the roles of women. Jeff Tyson reports.

On Sunday evenings, Saint John’s in the Village Episcopal Church on West 11th Street becomes a house of worship… for Roman Catholics.

(Church music fades up)

These worshipers are Lesbian, Gay, bi-sexual, and transgender Catholics who say they can’t
find the support they need at their own churches. They are members of an organization called
Dignity that helps LGBT Catholics express their sexual orientation and their religious beliefs. Jim
Supp is a member of the group. He feels that if the Catholic Church is going to move forward on
gay issues, it has to first look backward to a progressive Pope of the 1950s and 60s.

SUPP: One always lives in hope, and I believe if we have another Pope like John XXIII, then we will have
some changes in policies relating to all sexual ethics in the Roman Catholic Church. [12 sec]

But Church scholars say that isn’t going to happen.

HORNBECK: I think it’s important for folks interested in LGBT equality not to get their hopes up. [4 sec]

Fordham University Professor of Theology Patrick Hornbeck says that’s because all but one
of the Cardinals who will be voting for the new pope were appointed by either John Paul II, or
Benedict XVI, both of whom held conservative stances on church policy. But Hornbeck says that
while the hierarchy has become more conservative, the Catholic laity has moved in the opposite

HORNBECK: One of the most fascinating things about Catholics in the United States, is that of all the different
Christian denominations, Catholics are already more favorable toward LGBT concerns than any other
Christian group in the US. [11 sec]

Some members of the LGBT Catholic group Dignity would also like the Church to take a more
favorable view of gay members of the clergy. They make up between 20 and 50 percent of the
clergy according to Alexander Stille, a professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of
Journalism who has reported on Vatican and Papal affairs. Yet Stille believes that even with those
numbers, the Catholic Church isn’t likely to change.

STILLE: The effect of changing policies within the gay community would probably result in major battles and
divisions within the church. [11 sec]

Reform minded Catholics also hope a new pope might address the Church’s prohibition
against ordaining women as priests. Fordham Professor Patrick Hornbeck says that has been a
hot topic among priests and bishops.

HORNBECK: Over the last five, six, seven years in particular, a number of Catholics, very prominent Catholics,
have questioned the church’s position on the ordination of women in very significant ways. [9 sec]

Hornbeck says they were fired from their positions.

HORNBECK: So certainly there is a lot of pressure not to talk about this. [4 sec]

There is one significant change that Hornbeck believes the church might make in the near
future, and that is to allow straight priests to get married.

HORNBECK: Unlike the ordination of women, the Catholic Church has never said this is an absolute no no. [4 sec]

Hornbeck says that celibacy is simply designed to help priests dedicate their whole lives to
their flocks.

HORNBECK:But in the history of Christianity it has been very clear that there have been married priests and I
think its much more likely that Catholicism will go in that direction than go in the direction of a female
priesthood. [9 sec]

Vatican officials hope the cardinals choose a new pope by Easter, which falls at the end of
this month.

Jeff Tyson, Columbia Radio News

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A Cold Winter Day in Little Senegal

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The frigid temperatures this winter have made many New Yorkers bundle up for their jobs and commutes, but for West African immigrants in Harlem, the brisk air can be especially grueling. Jeff Tyson went to Little Senegal on West 116th Street to gather African perspectives on the cold.

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Mixed Feelings About Cardinal Dolan’s Papal Candidacy

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In less then two weeks, Pope Benedict XVI will resign from the Papacy. The Vatican is now preparing for a March conclave to choose a new Pope. And on this first Friday of Lent, New York Catholics wonder if their own Archbishop might become the first American to hold the Papacy.

Jeff Tyson reports from Blessed Sacrament Church: 

Fasting was the topic of this early morning Mass at Blessed Sacrament Church on West 71st St. But for Catholics at this parish, Lent is not the only thing worth talking about. The charismatic Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, is among the names being mentioned as potential candidates for the Papacy. Father John Duffell is a pastor at Blessed Sacrament Church. He has worked with Dolan, and feels he would make a good Pope.

“He’s personable, he’s interesting and exciting in certain ways, and he can attract attention. He’s charismatic, and that would be helpful. He’d give an interesting character or face to the Church. But there are many other candidates, I mean, he’s one of a number of candidates. And there’s always that statement that Rome or the cardinals would never elect an American, a world power, or a person from a world power to take that office, but who knows? It’s all in God’s hands,” Father Duffell says.

Historically, the Vatican has decided that electing an American as Pope would be yielding to a world power. And today, Catholicism is growing most rapidly in Asia, Africa and Latin America, not the U.S. So Dolan’s chances are slim. Many parishioners wouldn’t even entertain the thought that Dolan might become the face of the Church. One with that view was John Simpson.

“I don’t think he will become the Pope, I think he’s too new at being cardinal. I don’t think he’s made the necessary friendships or been involved with the other cardinals for long enough. So I don’t think he has any chance,” he says.

And Tom Lynch, another early morning churchgoer, feels Dolan isn’t fit for the job. He says that as Archbishop, Dolan hasn’t made the right decisions for Blessed Sacrament.

“At this moment, this parish is in conflict. I don’t think he would be a good Pope. I don’t think he has the brains for it,” he says.

But regardless of who succeeds Benedict, Father Duffell feels Benedict’s resignation was a significant milestone for the Church.

‘The resignation of the Pope, I mean, in one sense changes the image of the papacy, because the Pope is saying that this is really a job that I have, and I can’t do this job. It doesn’t take anything awaya from me as a person or a member of the church, but I really feel that to exercise this particular ministry, someone has to be a bit younger and stronger than I happen to be at this particular time,” he says.

On Ash Wednesday, Archbishop Dolan told reporters that Benedict’s resignation was an “act of extraordinary humility.” He wouldn’t comment on his prospects for the papacy.

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