Stories from Matthew Bell
I'm spending a lot of time these days reporting on religion, based here in the newsroom in Boston. I still pay attention to events in the Middle East and Asia, especially China. But the religion beat has kept me most busy.
By way of background, I studied comparative religion and Chinese history at the University of Vermont. That led me to Mandarin language classes and UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism, and then to KQED Radio in San Francisco. From there, I started freelancing for The World and joined the team full-time here in Boston in late 2001.
I've been blessed to be able to cover a huge range of stories for The World. But some of the most memorable ones involved taking a trip on a Louisiana shrimping boat in the Gulf of Mexico, covering events in Egypt during the so-called Arab Spring, and meeting North Korean refugees in Seoul, South Korea. I've reported on foreign policy in US presidential politics, the rise and fall of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and housing demolitions in Shanghai. I'd rather be playing drums for The Roots, but that position is filled quite competently for the time being. So, I'm sticking with radio.
At one time, Kim Jong-nam was thought to be the natural successor to his father, North Korea’s ‘Dear Leader,’ Kim Jong-il. Now, the younger Kim is dead. And experts suspect that his death might have been a political assassination ordered by his own half-brother, the current supreme leader — Kim Jong-un.
Conflict & Justice
The Pentagon says North Korea's weapons program represent “a clear, grave threat” to US security. What’s not clear is how the Trump administration is going to deal with it.
White evangelical Christians and Roman Catholics voted for Trump in big numbers. But more of them are speaking out against the administration’s move to block many Muslims from entering the US.
Science, Tech & Environment
Qian Xuesen studied at MIT and then joined the Manhattan Project, the top secret US atomic bomb program. Later, during the McCarthy era, Qian was kicked out of the country after being implicated as a communist sympathizer. Back in China, he went on to become the “father of Chinese rocketry.”
Lifestyle & Belief
At a time when they’re feeling under threat, Texas Muslims flocked to the city of Austin this week to take part in the annual Texas Muslim Capitol Day. Huge numbers of supporters turned out too. But some of the conversations between Muslim voters and state lawmakers are difficult ones.