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.

Pages

All Tech Considered
10:19 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 11:06 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
3:02 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 11:40 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
8:22 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 9:51 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
5:51 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 8:12 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.
5:00 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 11:31 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
11:30 am
Sat June 8, 2013

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

Originally published on Sun June 9, 2013 5:39 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.
6:24 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

Soldier Accused Of Killing Afghan Civilians To Plead Guilty

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 7:18 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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Around the Nation
5:34 am
Fri May 24, 2013

Wash. State Bridge Collapses, 3 People Injured

Originally published on Fri May 24, 2013 8:01 am

The collapse sent people and vehicles into the water Thursday night. Authorities say there were no fatalities. The bridge, about an hour north of Seattle, lost its northernmost span — taking out all lanes in both directions.

The Two-Way
7:39 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 9:35 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
3:19 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 3:27 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
4:58 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 6:43 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.
4:30 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Even Where It's Legal, Pot Producers Weigh The Business Risks

Medical marijuana on display at the grand opening of the Northwest Cannabis Market's Seattle location in February. While recreational pot use is now legal in Washington, the state has not yet issued rules governing the industry.
Elaine Thompson AP

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 11:49 am

Attorney General Eric Holder appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday to answer questions on everything from gun control to the Department of Justice's failure to prosecute Wall Street. But he was also asked about an issue proponents of marijuana legalization have been following closely: what the DOJ plans to do about Colorado and Washington state, which have defied federal law by legalizing recreational use of the drug.

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U.S.
6:06 pm
Fri February 22, 2013

As Police Drones Take Off, Washington State Pushes Back

Originally published on Fri February 22, 2013 7:28 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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It's All Politics
4:36 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 7:19 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
4:03 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 8:18 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
3:34 am
Mon January 28, 2013

Google Posts How It Handles Requests For Users' Data

Originally published on Mon January 28, 2013 10:11 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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U.S.
4:18 pm
Fri December 28, 2012

Is It Morally Wrong For U.S. To Export Coal?

Originally published on Fri December 28, 2012 5:06 pm

The Seattle area is seeing widespread, well-organized opposition to an export industry: coal. Thousands of people have turned out to express their disgust with a plan to build export terminals on Puget Sound to ship American coal to Asia. Opponents cite noise, traffic delays, coal dust and global warming.

NPR Story
5:18 pm
Wed December 26, 2012

Legalized Pot Creates Quandary For Adults In Wash.

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 7:24 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
6:07 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 1:06 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
6:36 am
Tue December 11, 2012

FTC: Apps For Children Raise Privacy Concerns

Originally published on Tue December 11, 2012 10:55 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
2:23 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 12:10 pm

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
5:04 am
Fri November 30, 2012

Senate Committee OKs Electronic Privacy Measure

Originally published on Fri November 30, 2012 7:22 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
5:59 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 10:20 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
4:29 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 10:29 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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Around the Nation
5:51 am
Thu November 8, 2012

Nor'Easter Hits Sandy-Ravaged East Coast

Originally published on Thu November 8, 2012 10:46 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

Last night, a nor'easter blew hard along the coast bringing new misery to those in New York and New Jersey, already without heat, power or, in some cases, a place to live.

We're joined now for more on that storm by NPR's Martin Kaste who's in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Good morning.

MARTIN KASTE, BYLINE: Good morning.

MONTAGNE: Tell us where you are and what you're seeing, Martin.

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Environment
4:54 pm
Wed November 7, 2012

Can Dumping Iron Into The Sea Fight Climate Change?

John Disney (second from left) looks over the underwater probe used in his company's ocean fertilization project, at a news conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, in October.
Andy Clark Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Wed November 7, 2012 5:50 pm

Environmental officials in Canada are investigating what some have called a "rogue climate change experiment." Over the summer, a native village on the coast of British Columbia dumped more than 100 tons of iron sulfate into the ocean. The idea was to cause a bloom of plankton, which would then capture greenhouse gases.

That's the theory, anyway. The reality is a bit more complicated.

Read more
Around the Nation
5:41 am
Tue November 6, 2012

Sandy Victims Struggle To Find Temporary Housing

Originally published on Tue November 6, 2012 12:18 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

New York's Mayor Bloomberg has hired a former FEMA official with experience in Hurricane Katrina to direct the city's housing recovery. NPR's Martin Kaste reports it's another sign of the seriousness of the housing shortage caused by the storm.

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Law
4:43 pm
Wed October 24, 2012

Three Ballot Measures Would OK Pot Beyond Medicine

A marijuana bud at a marijuana dispensary in Denver. Colorado, Oregon and Washington could become the first to legalize marijuana this fall.
Ed Andrieski AP

Originally published on Wed October 24, 2012 5:53 pm

Marijuana legalization is back on the ballot this year. California voters defeated a legalization proposal in 2010, but now similar measures have cropped up in three more Western states. This time around, some of the most intense opposition is coming from the earlier pioneers of legalization — the medical marijuana industry.

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It's All Politics
4:35 pm
Fri October 19, 2012

Colorado, A Big Win For Obama In 2008, Now A Harder Sell

Supporters turned out for President Obama's first post-debate rally on Oct.4 in Denver. The president is facing a fierce fight for Colorado after winning it by 9 points four years ago.
RJ Sangosti AP

Originally published on Fri October 19, 2012 7:12 pm

In Colorado, the presidential race is a statistical dead heat. The state went heavily for candidate Barack Obama in 2008 — but the president is now facing fierce headwinds.

Obama won last time by 9 points, an astounding margin in a state that hadn't gone Democratic since 1992. One Democratic strategist calls 2008 a one-time case of "irrational exuberance," especially among Colorado's large contingent of swing voters.

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Parallel Lives
6:17 am
Sat October 13, 2012

Hawaii Prep School Gave Obama Window To Success

Barack Obama in a 1975 photo from the Punahou School yearbook. He and his eighth-grade homeroom classmates pose with a slide projector as part of the yearbook's theme of "Nostalgia."
Punahau School 1974-1975 Yearbook

Originally published on Sat October 13, 2012 10:15 am

From now until Nov. 6, President Obama and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney will emphasize their differences. But the two men's lives actually coincide in a striking number of ways. In this installment of NPR's "Parallel Lives" series, a look at Obama's time at a Hawaii institution called Punahou.

Punahou School was founded by missionaries in 1841 — the campus is just up the hill from Waikiki, and it's built around a historic spring.

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