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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Politics
5:11 pm
Mon April 23, 2012

When Politicians Slip, Video Trackers Are There

In politics, video tracking has become normal. And it's a growth industry. There are trackers working for campaigns, political parties and, increasingly, political action committees.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon April 23, 2012 8:25 pm

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Around the Nation
5:54 pm
Wed April 18, 2012

Back To The Future: Seattle's Space Needle Turns 50

The Seattle Space Needle's 50th anniversary is Saturday. Though the top of the Needle has been off-white for years, it's being painted its original color, "galaxy gold," for the anniversary.
Dan Callister Getty Images

Originally published on Wed April 18, 2012 6:45 pm

Seattle's Space Needle turns 50 on Saturday. Originally built as a tourist attraction for the city's 1962 World's Fair, the structure was meant to evoke the future. Now the future is here, and the Needle has become the city's favorite antique.

Peter Steinbrueck traces the tower's lineage to an abstract sculpture that sits in his office. Steinbrueck is an architect and former City Council member, and the sculpture used to belong to his father, Victor, also an architect.

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Technology
4:00 am
Tue April 10, 2012

'Do Not Track' Web Browser Option Gains Steam

Several Web browsers, including Mozilla's Firefox, enable users to request additional privacy online via a "do not track" button. But there's no consensus on how much privacy the button should offer users.
Leon Neal AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue April 10, 2012 11:10 am

Government regulators in the U.S. and Europe are putting pressure on the online advertising industry to adopt a new Web browser option called "do not track." The option is designed to let people request more privacy from the websites they visit.

But there's no consensus yet on how much privacy users should expect. An Internet industry task force convenes Tuesday in Washington to try to hash that out.

Some browsers, like Internet Explorer, Safari and Firefox, already come with a "do not track" button. Other browsers are expected to add the feature soon.

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Law
4:49 pm
Fri April 6, 2012

Faith In Seattle Police 'Shaken' By DOJ Investigation

Protesters demonstrate at City Hall in Seattle on Feb. 16, 2011, after the announcement that police officer Ian Birk would not face charges for the fatal shooting of John T. Williams.
Ted S. Warren AP

Originally published on Fri April 6, 2012 6:23 pm

Police departments have come under increased scrutiny from the Obama administration as the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division steps up investigations of corruption, bias and excessive force.

Some of the targeted law enforcement agencies have had ethical clouds hanging over them for years — the New Orleans Police Department being the prime example — but others, like the Seattle Police Department, aren't exactly usual suspects.

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U.S.
4:00 am
Thu March 22, 2012

Army Health Care In Spotlight After Afghan Shooting

Originally published on Fri March 23, 2012 7:03 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene. Good morning.

The lawyer for the soldier suspected of killing unarmed Afghan civilians last week says his client may have suffered from diminished capacity - or, in other words, a mental breakdown. That possibility has focused attention on the Army's ability to detect and treat psychological problems among soldiers. NPR's Martin Kaste reports on how the Army's system works in theory and in practice.

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Afghanistan
4:40 am
Sun March 18, 2012

For Suspect In Afghan Attack, A Praised Record

Then-Capt. Brent Clemmer said Staff Sgt. Robert Bales distinguished himself as a team leader in Clemmer's C Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment during the Battle of Zarqa, Iraq. The faces of the rest of Bales' squad have been obscured.
Courtesy Maj. Brent Clemmer

Originally published on Sun March 18, 2012 1:13 pm

There is still only sketchy information available about Staff Sgt. Robert Bales' recent experience in Afghanistan, but five years ago in Iraq, he was considered an excellent and upbeat soldier.

Bales is suspected of killing 16 unarmed Afghan civilians last Sunday. He has yet to be charged, and his civilian lawyers say they will meet with him at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., to learn the facts of the case.

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Presidential Race
6:52 am
Sun March 4, 2012

Mitt Romney Tops Washington Caucuses

Originally published on Mon March 5, 2012 11:03 am

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney pulled ahead of his rivals in Washington State's presidential straw poll on Saturday, with more than one-third of the votes. Romney finished well ahead of Ron Paul, who himself squeaked past Rick Santorum by just over 500 votes. Newt Gingrich had to settle for about one vote in 10.

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Election 2012
4:00 am
Fri March 2, 2012

Washington State To Hold Nominating Contest

Originally published on Fri March 2, 2012 7:12 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

The next big day for Republican presidential hopefuls is Super Tuesday. But on the way to Tuesday, the candidates are making stops in Washington state. Republican caucuses there are set for tomorrow morning.

And as NPR's Martin Kaste reports, with the fight for the nomination still tight, for once the caucuses in Washington state may actually mean something to the presidential race.

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Law
4:29 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Wash. Lawmakers Fight For DNA Sampling At Arrest

A Washington State Patrol crime lab technician opens DNA sample cards containing cheek swabs sent from jails and prisons. If the state Legislature approves pre-conviction DNA sampling, the number of cards the lab processes could double.
Martin Kaste NPR

Originally published on Thu March 1, 2012 3:00 pm

Mandatory DNA collection is fast becoming routine in the American criminal justice system. In many jurisdictions, just being arrested can mean having to submit a genetic sample to the national database. Federal law enforcement and 26 states now permit various forms of pre-conviction DNA sampling and more states are poised to follow suit.

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Law
6:28 am
Mon February 27, 2012

Montana Defies Citizens United Case

In the Citizens United Case in 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled corporations and unions have a constitutional right to spend unlimited money on political ads. State courts are expected to follow that principle. But in December, Montana's high court refused to go along. It argued Montana's history and demography make it different enough to deserve an exemption from the federal ruling.

Law
4:50 pm
Thu February 9, 2012

Gay Marriage Opponents Take Battle To The Ballot

Gov. Chris Gregoire (left) embraces Rep. Jamie Pedersen, a Seattle Democrat, after the Washington state House voted Wednesday to legalize gay marriage.
Elaine Thompson AP

Originally published on Thu February 9, 2012 6:15 pm

Washington may soon become the seventh state to legalize gay marriage. Lawmakers passed the bill Wednesday, and it has the governor's support.

Before it takes effect, though, it's likely to face a referendum challenge in November. Same-sex marriage will be on the ballot in a handful of states this year, and supporters have yet to win a statewide vote.

The 'Sanctity Of Marriage'

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Energy
12:01 am
Wed January 18, 2012

Blocking Keystone Won't Stop Oil Sands Production

Oil storage tanks at the Chevron Burnaby Oil Refinery on the shores of Burrard Inlet, east of Vancouver, B.C.
Andy Clark Reuters/Landov

President Obama is feeling election-year pressure on the pending decision over the Keystone XL pipeline. Republicans say the Canadian project would provide the U.S. with oil and new jobs, but environmentalists want him to block it. They say Alberta's oil sands generate more greenhouse gases than other kinds of oil, and Americans must not become dependent on such a dirty source of energy. But it may already be too late to change that.

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Energy
5:53 pm
Thu January 12, 2012

Pro-Pipeline Canada To Americans: Butt Out, Eh?

OurDecision.ca campaign, which calls on Canadians to write to Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver asking him to ban foreigners and "their local puppet groups" from appearing before ongoing public hearings for a new pipeline project. " href="/post/pro-pipeline-canada-americans-butt-out-eh" class="noexit lightbox">
A screen shot from Ethical Oil's OurDecision.ca campaign, which calls on Canadians to write to Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver asking him to ban foreigners and "their local puppet groups" from appearing before ongoing public hearings for a new pipeline project.
OurDecision.ca

Originally published on Thu January 12, 2012 10:28 pm

Yet another foreign government has accused Americans of meddling in its internal affairs. It says U.S. donors are bankrolling local political activists, and it may be time for a crackdown on the political influence of outsiders.

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Around the Nation
5:55 pm
Thu January 5, 2012

Sinking Ship? Saving The Historic Kalakala Ferry

Not Dead Yet: On July 3, 1935, the Kalakala started daily ferry service between Seattle and Bremerton, Wash. Today, it sits unused in a nearby Tacoma dock.
Martin Kaste NPR

There's an old joke: The two happiest days in a man's life are the day he buys a boat and the day he sells it.

That's certainly been true for the owners of the Kalakala, a historic art deco ferry that currently resides in the Puget Sound. Launched in 1935, the vessel's trials and tribulations have become the stuff of legend in Seattle.

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Economy
12:01 am
Tue January 3, 2012

Raising The Minimum Wage: Whom Does It Help?

Originally published on Tue January 3, 2012 2:33 pm

For some of America's lowest-paid workers, the new year means a pay raise. Some states set their own minimum wages, above the federal rate of $7.25 an hour, and that rekindles an old debate over whether minimum wages make sense — especially at a time of high unemployment.

Like several other states, Washington state's minimum wage is indexed to the cost of living. This year, the formula has raised the statewide minimum from $8.67 to $9.04 an hour, making it the nation's highest statewide rate.

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News
4:15 pm
Mon December 26, 2011

With 'Occupy' Protests, Police Aimed For Restraint

This fall American police were confronted with something they hadn't seen in 40 years: prolonged, simultaneous political protests across the country. In most cities, police showed restraint. But there have been exceptions — sometimes involving copious amounts of pepper spray. Those flashpoints have become a cause for concern.

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Around the Nation
2:39 am
Tue December 13, 2011

Police Use Flash Grenades To Reopen Seattle Terminal

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 12:29 pm

Police in Seattle arrested more than a dozen Occupy protesters Monday night after marchers briefly blocked traffic coming into the city's busy port. The Seattle protest was the culmination of a day of coordinated protests at ports up and down the West Coast.

Soon after hundreds of Occupy protesters marched to Seattle's Harbor Island, some of them started dragging wooden pallets and scrap metal into the roadway, and traffic in and out of the port came to a halt. The protesters were trying to shut down Terminal 18.

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Politics
3:00 pm
Fri December 9, 2011

Congress Pushes Bills To Promote Cybersecurity

Originally published on Fri December 9, 2011 6:12 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The House of Representatives has fast-tracked legislation meant to detect and stop Internet attacks. Last week, the House Intelligence Committee approved a bill that allows companies to share information about the traffic moving across their networks - maybe too much information, according to some privacy advocates who are worried about the bill.

Here's NPR's Martin Kaste.

MARTIN KASTE, BYLINE: House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers believes America is under attack.

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Law
4:41 pm
Thu November 24, 2011

How Private Is Your Email? It Depends

Some big-name tech companies are asking Congress to step in and clarify Americans' online privacy rights.
Nicholas Kamm AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 24, 2011 8:36 pm

Do the police need a warrant to read your email? Believe it or not, two decades into the Internet age, the answer to that question is still "maybe." It depends on how old the email is, where you keep it — and it even depends on whom you ask.

Some big-name tech companies are now asking Congress to step in and clarify Americans' online privacy rights.

If you do run afoul of the law and you happen to be one of the millions of people who use Gmail then cops will likely be directing their inquiries to the legal department at Google, in Mountain View, Calif.

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The Two-Way
5:06 pm
Fri November 11, 2011

Occupy Oakland Movement Tries To Regroup After Shooting

An Occupy Oakland demonstrator lights a candle after a man was shot and killed near the Occupy Oakland camp.
Kimihiro Hoshino AFP/Getty Images

Is it fair to blame the Occupy Oakland encampment for a murder on its doorstep?

That's the question everyone's debating today here in Oakland, after a young African-American man was gunned down by the campsite Thursday at about 5 p.m.

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Digital Life
12:01 am
Mon November 7, 2011

As More Police Wear Cameras, Policy Questions Arise

Officer Huy Nguyen shows a video camera worn by some officers in Oakland, Calif. Oakland and dozens of other police departments across the country are equipping officers with tiny body cameras to record anything from a traffic stop to a violent crime in progress.
Jeff Chiu AP

Originally published on Mon November 7, 2011 12:13 pm

The next time you talk to a police officer, you might find yourself staring into a lens. Companies such as Taser and Vievu are making small, durable cameras designed to be worn on police officer's uniforms. The idea is to capture video from the officer's point of view, for use as evidence against suspects, as well as to help monitor officers' behavior toward the public.

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Sports
9:15 am
Tue November 1, 2011

A Final Resting Place On The Green, But No Mulligans

Grieving families may chip shots out of the rough, or the sand trap, as well as putter on the green.

Courtesy Sunset Hills Memorial Park

Originally published on Fri November 18, 2011 6:13 pm

Americans aren't going for coffins like they used to. Cremation is becoming more popular and many families opt to dispose of the ashes somewhere other than a cemetery.

That's not good news for the funeral and cemetery business. Arne Swanson, market director for Dignity Memorial Service Corporation International, recalls watching a family spreading the ashes of a loved one on the fairway of a golf course.

"I thought, 'There must be a better way,' " he says. "There just simply was not a product to meet the needs of this family."

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Around the Nation
12:01 am
Thu October 20, 2011

Exploring Occupy Wall Street's 'Adbuster' Origins

An onlooker takes a photograph of Occupy Wall Street protesters in New York's Zuccotti Park. The demonstrations were inspired by a blog post by Kalle Lasn, editor of Adbusters magazine.

Stan Honda AFP/Getty Images

The protests go by a variety of names: "Occupy Wall Street," "American Autumn," "The 99 Percent." And the lack of a unified message is matched by a lack of centralized control. But the protests share a common spark: a disillusioned Canadian adman.

The "Occupy" protests seemed to come out of nowhere. But the early participants, like John Garcia, in downtown Seattle, point to a very specific catalyst.

"I get Adbusters, so that's how I heard about it," he says.

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Digital Life
4:40 pm
Wed September 28, 2011

Who Are You, Really? Activists Fight For Pseudonyms

In the past, Google Chief Eric Schmidt, shown this month, has expressed impatience with Internet anonymity. At the Techonomy conference last year, he said, "One of the errors that the Internet made a long time ago is that there was not an accurate and non-revocable identity-management service."
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Wed September 28, 2011 7:04 pm

Social media companies don't like people creating accounts under fake names. That's long been the case at Facebook, but over the summer, Google's new social network, Google Plus, surprised users by making a point of shutting down accounts with names that didn't look real.

Some online activists refer to Google's action as the "nym wars" — short for "pseudonym wars." They see it as part of a worrying trend to force people to use their real names online.

Trying To Weed Out 'Trolls'

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Politics
12:01 am
Wed September 21, 2011

As The 'Un-Candidate,' Palin Tests GOP Patience

Author Joe McGinniss has been out this week promoting his new book about Sarah Palin — a book widely condemned for gossipy allegations by anonymous sources. The book is getting attention in part because Palin might be running for president.

This summer, Palin certainly looked like a presidential candidate as she rode through Iowa and New Hampshire in a red-white-and-blue bus, but as time ticks away the pressure is building on Palin to make her candidacy official.

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