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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2:54pm

Wed November 6, 2013
Law

There May Be A Green Light For Pot, But Not For Driving High

Originally published on Wed November 6, 2013 6:44 pm

In Washington state, dogs don't need to sniff out pot anymore, but troopers are keeping an eye out for high drivers.
Matthew Staver Bloomberg via Getty Images

Western states have led the way in the legalization of marijuana, first with medical marijuana, and then with the legalization of recreational pot in Colorado and Washington last November.

It's been quite an adjustment for the police. Washington State Patrol is adapting to the new reality in a variety of ways, from untraining dogs that sniff out pot, to figuring out how to police high drivers.

A Smell Once Forbidden

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1:38am

Mon October 28, 2013
All Tech Considered

A Look Into Facebook's Potential To Recognize Anybody's Face

Originally published on Tue October 29, 2013 3:00 pm

Social media companies like Facebook won't talk about who can access face-tagging data. That silence is a problem, privacy advocates say.
iStockPhoto.com

Revelations about NSA spying have left people wondering about the privacy of their digital data. But what about the privacy of their faces?

The movies make facial recognition look easy: In the 1998 film Enemy of the State, a team of NSA agents simply freeze a surveillance tape, tap some keys and identify the face a few computer beeps later.

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3:17pm

Wed October 23, 2013
All Tech Considered

It's Easy To Blame The Canadians For HealthCare.gov Problems

Originally published on Wed October 23, 2013 4:43 pm

Heavy Internet traffic and system problems plagued the launch of the new HealthCare.gov insurance exchange site.
Karen Bleier AFP/Getty Images

President Obama is putting former CEO Jeff Zients in charge of the "tech surge" — the administration's emergency effort to fix the Web portal at the heart of the federal government's new health care market. But what about the contractors that built the system? What's their responsibility?

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4:36pm

Wed October 16, 2013
The Salt

So What Happens If The Movement To Label GMOs Succeeds?

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 6:09 pm

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

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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5:15am

Thu September 19, 2013
National Security

ACLU Posts Fed-Collected 'Suspicious' Activity Reports Online

Originally published on Mon September 30, 2013 12:29 pm

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

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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2:35pm

Wed September 18, 2013
Mental Health

After Attacks, Seattle Rethinks How To Treat Mentally Ill

Originally published on Wed September 18, 2013 6:01 pm

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

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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3:08am

Thu September 5, 2013
Business

Data Marketing Critics Check Out What's Written About Them

Originally published on Thu September 5, 2013 7:34 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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2:59am

Thu August 22, 2013
Law

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

Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 10:43 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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3:30am

Thu August 8, 2013
Law

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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2:01pm

Wed July 31, 2013
All Tech Considered

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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2:56pm

Fri July 26, 2013
Around the Nation

Can Software That Predicts Crime Pass Constitutional Muster?

Originally published on Mon July 29, 2013 10:01 am

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

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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8:00am

Wed July 17, 2013
All Tech Considered

Police May Know Exactly Where You Were Last Tuesday

Originally published on Wed July 17, 2013 9:06 am

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

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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1:02am

Mon July 15, 2013
Around the Nation

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

Originally published on Fri July 19, 2013 9:40 am

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

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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6:22am

Wed July 10, 2013
All Tech Considered

Utah Internet Firm Defies State's Warrantless Subpoena Law

Originally published on Wed July 10, 2013 7:51 am

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

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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2:06pm

Tue July 2, 2013
All Tech Considered

Tools To Help You Hide Online Raise The Ire Of Advertisers

Originally published on Tue July 2, 2013 6:12 pm

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

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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3:00am

Wed June 26, 2013
U.S.

Some Tech Companies Find Ways Not To Hire Americans

Originally published on Wed June 26, 2013 9:31 am

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

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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4:24pm

Wed May 29, 2013
U.S.

Soldier Accused Of Killing Afghan Civilians To Plead Guilty

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 5:18 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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5:39pm

Wed May 15, 2013
The Two-Way

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

Originally published on Wed May 15, 2013 7:35 pm

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

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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2:56pm

Wed May 15, 2013
Business

Airlines Can Keep You From Snapping, But Not Sharing Photos

Originally published on Wed May 15, 2013 5:39 pm

A recent incident on a commercial airliner raises an interesting question: can an airline bar you from taking pictures on their plane?

1:19am

Tue April 30, 2013
All Tech Considered

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

Originally published on Mon May 6, 2013 1:27 pm

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

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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