Martin Kaste

Martin Kaste is a correspondent on NPR's National desk. He covers the news throughout the Northwest, with an emphasis on technology and privacy stories.

In addition to general assignment reporting throughout the region, Kaste has contributed to NPR News coverage of major world events, including the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and the 2011 uprising in Libya.

Focusing on technology and privacy issues, Kaste has reported on the government's wireless wiretapping practices as well as the data-collection and analysis that goes on behind the scenes in social media and other new media. His privacy reporting was cited in a US Supreme Court opinion concerning GPS tracking.

Before moving to the West Coast, Kaste spent five years as a reporter for NPR based in South America. He covered the drug wars in Colombia, the financial meltdown in Argentina, the rise of Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, and the fall of Haiti's president Jean Bertrand Aristide. Throughout this assignment, Kaste covered the overthrow of five presidents in five years.

Prior to joining NPR in 2000, Kaste was a policital reporter for Minnesota Public Radio in St. Paul for seven years.

Kaste is a graduate of Carleton College, in Northfield, Minnesota.

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The Salt
5:39 pm
Wed October 16, 2013

So What Happens If The Movement To Label GMOs Succeeds?

Labels on bags of snack foods indicate they are non-GMO food products.
Robyn Beck AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 7:09 pm

I have a story on All Things Considered Wednesday (click on the audio link above to hear it) about the campaign to put labels on food containing genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. The idea is gaining ground in the Northeast — Maine and Connecticut passed labeling laws this summer, though they won't take effect unless more states do the same. And GMO labeling is on the ballot this November in Washington state.

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National Security
6:15 am
Thu September 19, 2013

ACLU Posts Fed-Collected 'Suspicious' Activity Reports Online

In the last few years, the feds have expanded efforts to collect tips about people's behavior in the real world. At a fusion center in Las Vegas, workers like Daniel Burns, a program coordinator, analyze suspicious activity reports. The ACLU on Thursday posted more than 1,800 of these reports that were gathered in central California.
Monica Lam Center for Investigative Reporting

Originally published on Mon September 30, 2013 1:29 pm

With all the talk of spying by the National Security Agency, it's easy to forget the government engages in off-line surveillance, too. In the last few years, the feds have expanded efforts to collect tips about people's behavior in the real world; they're called suspicious activity reports.

Hal Bergman, a freelance photographer in Los Angeles, has a fondness for industrial scenes, bridges, ports and refineries.

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Mental Health
3:35 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

After Attacks, Seattle Rethinks How To Treat Mentally Ill

Police officials stand next to a bullet-ridden Seattle Metro bus on Aug. 12. A man with a history of mental illness shot and wounded the driver, then died in a chaotic shootout with police.
Ted S. Warren AP

Originally published on Wed September 18, 2013 7:01 pm

The Navy Yard massacre may renew concerns over the potential dangers of mentally ill people who don't get treatment. That issue is especially hot right now in Seattle, where the mayor has called untreated mental illness an "emergency."

Unstable In Seattle

Seattle's Pioneer Square is an uneasy mix of art galleries and skid road; it's gelato over here, and heroin over there. And then there's mental illness.

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Business
4:08 am
Thu September 5, 2013

Data Marketing Critics Check Out What's Written About Them

Originally published on Thu September 5, 2013 8:34 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Companies that collect and sell information about you are usually pretty secretive about what they have on you. But one of the biggest data brokers is now letting consumers have a peek.

Yesterday, the Acxiom Corp. set up a website where people can look themselves up. It's called AboutTheData.com. As NPR's Martin Kaste reports, some of the first people to try it were the data industry's critics.

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Law
3:59 am
Thu August 22, 2013

Lawyers For Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales To Ask For Leniency

Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 11:43 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne. We're following developments in Egypt after today's release from prison of ousted President Hosni Mubarak. We'll go to Cairo in a moment. We begin this hour with stories of two military trials in this country. Both involve horrendous massacres.

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Law
4:30 am
Thu August 8, 2013

Defense Lawyers Want Out Of Fort Hood Shooting Trial

Maj. Nidal Hasan faces 13 charges of murder and 32 of attempted murder for the November 2009 shootings at Fort Hood, Texas.
Reuters/Landov

The judge in the court martial of accused Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan is expected to announce Thursday what she's going to do about a rebellion in her courtroom.

A team of Army defense lawyers told her on Wednesday that they want to be released from their job.

The defense lawyers want out because they think Hasan is purposely trying to lose this trial.

Hasan fired them in May, but the judge made them stay on to offer Hasan technical help with court procedures.

Now the lead defense lawyer says that arrangement is "untenable."

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All Tech Considered
3:01 pm
Wed July 31, 2013

The Online Underworld's Elaborate Prank To Ship Heroin

Cybercriminals are scary, but at least the harm they do is just in cyberspace. So they hack your Twitter, or maybe cause a few zeros to disappear (temporarily) from your bank account. They can't hurt you in any real-world way, right?

Wrong.

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Around the Nation
3:55 pm
Fri July 26, 2013

Can Software That Predicts Crime Pass Constitutional Muster?

Jeff Brantingham, creator of PredPol, demonstrates computer-generated "predictive policing" zones at the Los Angeles Police Department Unified Command Post in Los Angeles last year.
Damian Dovarganes AP

Originally published on Mon July 29, 2013 11:01 am

Typically, police arrive at the scene of a crime after it occurs. But rather than send cops to yesterday's crime, a new trend in law enforcement is using computers to predict where tomorrow's crimes will be — and then try to head them off.

The software uses past statistics to project where crime is moving. Police in Los Angeles say it's worked well in predicting property crimes there. Now Seattle is about to expand it for use in predicting gun violence.

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All Tech Considered
9:00 am
Wed July 17, 2013

Police May Know Exactly Where You Were Last Tuesday

An Arizona Department of Public Safety officer keeps an eye on his dashboard computer as it reads passing car license plates.
Ross D. Franklin AP

Originally published on Wed July 17, 2013 10:06 am

License plate scanners are the dark horse of the surveillance world. They've been around for a decade, but people rarely notice. They don't look much different from closed circuit cameras, perched over busy intersections. Or they're just another device mounted on a passing police car.

But they notice you: A scanner can ID thousands of plates a day. And a new ACLU report says the vast majority of police agencies now use them.

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Around the Nation
2:02 am
Mon July 15, 2013

A Peek Inside A Once Top Secret Spot In Atomic Age History

Take a tour of the Hanford site, a nuclear production complex in Richland, Wash., and you'll see the hundreds of mechanical water pressure gauges wired to the process tubes inside the core. Tour guide Paul Vinther warns that bumping these gauges could throw off the readings enough to trigger a an emergency shutdown of the reactor.
Martin Kaste NPR

Originally published on Fri July 19, 2013 10:40 am

People tend to remember that the atomic bomb was developed at Los Alamos, N.M., and Oak Ridge, Tenn., but they often forget about a third nuclear production complex — the Hanford Site in Richland, Wash. It's where they built the world's first full-scale nuclear reactor.

The "B Reactor" is a windowless, cinder block hulk out in the middle of nowhere. You might mistake it for an abandoned cement plant. But inside, it's a lovingly preserved time capsule of the Atomic Age. If you're lucky, your guide will be one of the people who worked here when the place was still new.

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All Tech Considered
7:22 am
Wed July 10, 2013

Utah Internet Firm Defies State's Warrantless Subpoena Law

Pete Ashdown is founder and CEO of XMission, Utah's oldest Internet service provider.
Flickr via Center for Study of Ethics at UVU

Originally published on Wed July 10, 2013 8:51 am

Utah's oldest Internet service provider, XMission, has refused to give up customer information to law enforcement, reports The Salt Lake Tribune. Specifically, the company says it won't comply with administrative subpoenas.

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All Tech Considered
3:06 pm
Tue July 2, 2013

Tools To Help You Hide Online Raise The Ire Of Advertisers

People wait to attend a Mozilla press conference in Barcelona, Spain, in February. Mozilla's Firefox and other Web browsers allow users to opt out of third-party tracking cookies.
Josep Lago AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue July 2, 2013 7:12 pm

When Mozilla announced a plan to improve its system for blocking third-party cookies, it didn't seem like the kind of thing that would make waves. But it didn't take long for the Internet advertising industry to react — furiously.

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U.S.
2:25 am
Wed June 26, 2013

Some Tech Companies Find Ways Not To Hire Americans

Tech workers looking for jobs may think twice before looking at job ads that are targeted at Americans but actually are intended for foreigners.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed June 26, 2013 10:31 am

Lawmakers continue to wrangle over a bill that would overhaul the nation's immigration system. One provision in this bill would allow companies to import a lot more skilled workers. The tech industry has lobbied hard for this, despite fears among some American workers about the extra competition.

Illinois Senator Dick Durbin says the bill has American workers covered. "Employers will be given a chance to hire a temporary foreign worker when truly needed. But first, they'll be required to recruit Americans. No exceptions, no excuses," he said.

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National Security
10:30 am
Sat June 8, 2013

Watchdog Agency Could Keep NSA In Check, Once It Gets Going

Originally published on Sun June 9, 2013 4:39 am

On Friday, President Obama defended the two NSA surveillance programs that were leaked to the news media this week.

One program collects the general public's phone records, the other allegedly gives the government backdoor access to Internet services such as Google and Facebook.

Obama said the programs "strike the right balance," but that's done little to reassure those who think government surveillance has become too broad.

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U.S.
5:24 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

Soldier Accused Of Killing Afghan Civilians To Plead Guilty

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 6:18 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The American soldier accused of killing 16 villagers in Afghanistan last year plans to plead guilty in order to avoid the death penalty. Lawyers say Staff Sergeant Robert Bales will plead guilty to 16 counts of premeditated murder next week and that his sentencing trial will be held in September.

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The Two-Way
6:39 pm
Wed May 15, 2013

Take Your Seat, The 'No Photography' Sign Is Lit

An American Airlines plane at Miami International Airport in February.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 15, 2013 8:35 pm

You probably saw this bit of Internet virality earlier this week — showing a woman getting kicked off an American Airlines flight for channeling Whitney Houston.

What caught our attention was the sound of flight attendants repeatedly ordering passengers not to take pictures or (presumably) videos.

Apparently, it's an official rule at American Airlines:

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All Tech Considered
2:19 am
Tue April 30, 2013

Will Bureaucracy Keep The U.S. Drone Industry Grounded?

Paul Applewhite of Applewhite Aero isn't allowed to fly this 3-pound Styrofoam plane. That's because he has added circuitry to make it autonomous — it can find its way to specified coordinates — which means it's an unmanned aerial vehicle requiring a special testing permit.
Martin Kaste NPR

Originally published on Mon May 6, 2013 2:27 pm

Americans are suspicious of drones. Reports of the unmanned aerial vehicles' use in war zones have raised concerns about what they might do here at home. For instance, in Seattle earlier this year, a public outcry forced the police department to abandon plans for eye-in-the-sky UAV helicopters.

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All Tech Considered
3:58 pm
Wed March 20, 2013

Yes, Your New Car Has A 'Black Box.' Where's The Off Switch?

Detective Dave Wells plugs his laptop into a car's event data recorder. A large portion of new cars are equipped with the device, and the government is considering making them mandatory in all vehicles. But some say there should be an "off" option.
Martin Kaste NPR

Originally published on Wed March 20, 2013 5:43 pm

If you're a vehicle owner and happen to have a car accident in the near future (we hope you don't), it's likely the crash details will be recorded. Automotive "black boxes" are now built into more than 90 percent of new cars, and the government is considering making them mandatory.

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U.S.
4:46 pm
Fri February 22, 2013

As Police Drones Take Off, Washington State Pushes Back

Originally published on Fri February 22, 2013 6:28 pm

Last year, Seattle became one of the nation's first cities to buy unmanned drones for use by the police department. Public reaction was less "Gee-whiz" than "What the heck?"

The phrase "unmanned drones" typically conjures images of places like Afghanistan. But the Federal Aviation Administration says it wants to start testing the civilian use of aerial drones here in the U.S. and has already issued special permits to a few police departments interested in trying them out.

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Around the Nation
4:51 am
Tue February 19, 2013

Older Tech Workers Oppose Overhauling H-1B Visas

Originally published on Tue February 19, 2013 2:45 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Now, a look at one part of the immigration debate in Congress: a proposed increase in H1-B visas. Those are the visas that allow companies to hire skilled foreign workers. As NPR's Martin Kaste reports in today's "Business Bottom Line," offering more of those visas is controversial, especially among American tech workers of a certain age.

MARTIN KASTE, BYLINE: Here in Seattle, people still have fond memories of the 1990s tech boom.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Do you want a cup of coffee?

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It's All Politics
3:54 pm
Wed February 6, 2013

From Oil Fields To REI, Interior Nominee Has Outdoorsy Cred

REI CEO Sally Jewell delivers remarks Wednesday after being nominated by President Obama to be the next secretary of the interior.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 6, 2013 6:19 pm

President Obama's choice to take over at the Department of the Interior comes from the business world. Sally Jewell is the CEO of outdoor equipment supplier REI.

"For Sally, the toughest part of this job will probably be sitting behind a desk," the president said when introducing his nominee Wednesday. "I suspect she'll want to get out of the office quite a bit."

Before Jewell took the reins at REI, she worked in the financial industry at Washington Mutual. Before that, she was an engineer in the oil business, with Mobil.

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Law
3:34 am
Tue January 29, 2013

Armed 'Good Guys' And The Realities Of Facing A Gunman

The NRA and some concealed-carry activists say the best defense against gun violence is armed "good guys." Here, a man fires his pistol at an indoor range in Aurora, Colo., last summer.
Alex Brandon AP

Originally published on Tue January 29, 2013 7:18 pm

As the nation ponders how to stop the next mass shooting, the gun rights movement offers a straight-forward formula, laid out famously by NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre.

"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," LaPierre said last month, as his group responded to the elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn.

One Man's Story

In Washington state, one such "good guy" — a private citizen who drew his gun in defense of others — paid a heavy price.

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Digital Life
2:34 am
Mon January 28, 2013

Google Posts How It Handles Requests For Users' Data

Originally published on Mon January 28, 2013 9:11 am

Google wants you to know you're being watched. Or rather, the company wants you to know how and when the police get to watch what you do online.

For the first time, the company has posted its policies for when it gives up users' information to the government. It's part of a broader company strategy to push for tougher privacy laws.

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NPR Story
4:18 pm
Wed December 26, 2012

Legalized Pot Creates Quandary For Adults In Wash.

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 6:24 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

In Washington State, parents and drug counselors are in a quandary. Now that recreational marijuana is legal, they're wondering how to talk to kids about pot.

NPR's Martin Kaste has that story from Seattle.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Ten, nine, eight, seven...

CROWD: Nine, eight, seven...

MARTIN KASTE, BYLINE: Under the Space Needle, marijuana enthusiasts counted down to the moment of legalization.

CROWD: Two, one...

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

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Remembrances
5:07 am
Tue December 18, 2012

Sen. Inouye, A War Hero Who Broke Barriers, Dies At 88

Inouye's wife, Maggie, waves to a neighbor as she, the senator and son Kenny prepare to leave their home, Aug. 4, 1973, in Bethesda, Md.
Bill Weems AP

Originally published on Tue December 18, 2012 12:06 pm

Hawaii Democrat Daniel Inouye, the Senate's senior member, died at a Bethesda, Md., hospital Monday. He was 88 years old and was suffering from a respiratory ailment. The Japanese-American was known for his heroism in World War II and for breaking racial barriers.

Born to Japanese immigrants in Hawaii in 1924, the young Inouye dreamed of becoming a surgeon, but world events intervened as he was listening to the radio on Sunday morning, Dec. 7, 1941.

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Digital Life
5:36 am
Tue December 11, 2012

FTC: Apps For Children Raise Privacy Concerns

Originally published on Tue December 11, 2012 9:55 am

The Federal Trade Commission has released a report taking to task the makers of mobile apps for children. It says apps are not transparent enough about the personal information they collect. It's the latest sign the Obama administration is concerned about children's privacy online.

Around the Nation
1:23 am
Wed December 5, 2012

Pot's Legal In Washington State, But Don't Drive High

Chris Guthrie, vice president for operations at Canna Pi medical dispensary, inspects a medical marijuana product at his clinic in Seattle on Monday. Marijuana will be legal in Washington state from 12:01 a.m. Thursday.
Anthony Bolante Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Tue March 5, 2013 11:10 am

Marijuana is legal in Washington state as of 12:01 a.m. Thursday, but the ballot initiative that made it legal last month contained a new DUI standard — a deal-sweetener for hesitant voters — that may actually make life riskier for regular pot users.

The new law makes it legal for adults to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana, but illegal for that same adult to drive if the THC content of his blood reaches 5 nanograms per milliliter.

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Law
4:04 am
Fri November 30, 2012

Senate Committee OKs Electronic Privacy Measure

Originally published on Fri November 30, 2012 6:22 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted yesterday to make it a little harder for police to read your old emails. It's something privacy groups and tech companies have wanted for years. As NPR's Martin Kaste reports, law enforcement groups are less pleased.

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Technology
5:05 pm
Fri November 16, 2012

Post-Petraeus, Net Privacy Backers Hope For A Boost

Online privacy advocates are hopeful the FBI investigation into retired Gen. David Petraeus' personal emails will put a human face on their efforts to update a stalled Internet privacy bill.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri November 16, 2012 9:20 pm

The tech industry has been lobbying hard for an update to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the 1986 law governing online privacy.

Under an umbrella group calling itself Digital Due Process, companies and civil liberties groups have argued that the law is too loose with the privacy of data stored online, especially Web-based email and other documents on the cloud.

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All Tech Considered
3:29 pm
Sun November 11, 2012

Left Homeless, Storm Victims Turn To Internet To Find Shelter

A damaged home rests on one side along the beach in the Belle Harbor section of Queens, N.Y., on Nov. 5 in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.
Craig Ruttle AP

Originally published on Mon November 12, 2012 9:29 am

Housing is always in short supply in New York City, and Superstorm Sandy just made things much worse. The government is paying hotel costs for many of those displaced, while others are staying with friends and family.

That still leaves many people still looking for a spare bedroom, and some are now turning to the social networking website Airbnb – a site that matches people seeking vacation rentals — to find a place to stay.

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