Martin Kaste

Martin Kaste is a correspondent on NPR's National desk. He covers law enforcement and privacy, as well as news from the Pacific Northwest.

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

Kaste has reported on the government's warrant-less wiretapping practices as well as the data-collection and analysis that go on behind the scenes in social media and other new media. His privacy reporting was cited in the U.S. Supreme Court's 2012 United States v. Jones ruling concerning GPS tracking.

Before moving to the West Coast, Kaste spent five years as NPR's reporter 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, 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 political reporter for Minnesota Public Radio in St. Paul for seven years.

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

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.

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.

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:

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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)

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Republicans are still within reach of a big political goal this year: retaking control of the Senate. They lost the majority in 2006, in part because of the razor-close victory of Democratic challenger Jon Tester in Montana.

Now, Tester is the incumbent facing a tough challenge of his own. And if he's going to win re-election, he has to turn out a lot of younger voters, the way he did in 2006. And on that front, he does have some allies.

We don't know how much software mogul Larry Ellison recently paid for the Hawaiian island of Lanai — for 98 percent of the island, to be exact — but estimates run upward of half a billion dollars. So what do you get for that kind of money?

Beautiful beaches, for starters. A view of Maui, just eight miles away. A couple of luxury resorts built by the previous owner. And, as a bonus, some delicate history.

Republican hopes of capturing the Senate in November rest on a handful of tossup races in states like Montana, Missouri and Virginia.

Surprisingly, some analysts also are putting Hawaii in the tossup column.

Hawaii is the bluest of blue states; it hasn't elected a Republican to the Senate since 1970. But with the retirement of 22-year incumbent Daniel Akaka, Republicans believe they have a chance.

And regardless of who wins, the state will have its first female senator come January.

In Hawaii, the language of politics is a little different.

Pages