Martin Kaste

NPR's Martin Kaste covers the Pacific Northwest, Alaska and western Canada, and occasionally roams farther afield. Kaste's reports and features can be heard on all of NPR's news programs and newscasts.

Politics is a big part of Kaste's beat, and he's followed the career of Alaska's Sarah Palin since well before the day she was picked as John McCain's running mate.

He also specializes in privacy issues, focusing on the government's wireless wiretapping practices, and the data-collection and analysis that goes on behind the scenes in social media and other new media.

Before moving to the West Coast, Kaste spent five years as NPR's South America reporter. 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. All told, Kaste covered the overthrow of five presidents in five years.

Kaste joined NPR fulltime in February 2000, after working in St. Paul as a political reporter for Minnesota Public Radio, which he joined in 1993. He's a graduate of Carleton College.

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5:02am

Fri December 19, 2014
Around the Nation

Transparency Vs. Privacy: What To Do With Police Camera Videos?

Originally published on Mon December 22, 2014 2:42 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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6:15pm

Wed December 10, 2014
Around the Nation

Why Police Departments Have A Hard Time Recruiting Blacks

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 6:35 pm

Police wearing riot gear walk toward a man with his hands raised Aug. 11 in Ferguson, Mo. Renewed calls for police departments to hire more minorities have followed the shooting there of a black man by a white police officer.
Jeff Roberson AP

Since the Ferguson, Mo., shooting, there have been renewed calls for police departments to hire more minority officers, but it turns out it's not that simple.

Police in the U.S. are more diverse than they were a generation ago. In the 1980s, 1 in 6 officers belonged to an ethnic or racial minority. Now it's about 1 in 4. The challenge these days is finding enough recruits to keep that trend going.

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4:54am

Wed December 10, 2014
Around the Nation

Bertha, The Giant Borer That Broke, May Be Sinking Seattle's Downtown

Originally published on Wed December 10, 2014 6:23 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

10:32am

Wed November 26, 2014
The Salt

For Native Alaskans, Holiday Menu Looks To The Wild

Originally published on Wed November 26, 2014 11:19 am

Akutaq or agutak — also known as Eskimo ice cream — is a favorite dessert in western Alaska. It's made with berries and frothed with fat, like Crisco.
Al Grillo AP

When Americans sit down to their Thanksgiving meal, most tables will feature traditional fare: turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberries. But should you be looking for a different kind of holiday meal, head for rural Alaska.

That's where Nellie Gamechuck lives, in a village squeezed between tundra and a bend in the river in the southwest part of the state. Ask her what's for dinner on Thanksgiving, and she opens up the deep freeze. "Walrus meat, moose meat," she says. Digging down through the layers, she reaches the dessert level: salmonberries.

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3:48am

Thu November 20, 2014
Around the Nation

Officer's Death Raises Safety Concerns For Alaska's Unarmed Law Enforcement

Originally published on Thu November 20, 2014 2:16 pm

Mike Myers is the roving village public safety officer serving southwest Alaska villages including Manokotak. Like many officers in rural Alaska, Myers doesn't carry a gun and often doesn't need one.
Martin Kaste NPR

Americans expect police to carry guns. In most places, it's just assumed that law enforcement is always armed. But not everywhere.

One of the last exceptions to the rule is the native communities of rural Alaska, such as Manokotak, a Yupik village of about 400 in southwest Alaska. Hunters and fishermen live there in modest houses huddled along a few roads.

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4:52pm

Wed November 19, 2014
Around the Nation

Bush Pilot Helps Rural Alaskan Police Explore Isolated Villages

Originally published on Wed November 19, 2014 8:09 pm

Bush pilot John Bouker (right) and village public safety officer Mike Myers (left) outside Bouker's Cessna 207. Bouker transports Alaskan cops to remote areas and helps pick up prisoners.
Martin Kaste NPR

In order to reach what Alaskans call "The Bush" — villages isolated across tundra — you'll need a bush pilot. That's where John Bouker comes in.

Most of Bouker's passengers are civilians he transports to and from Alaska's remote villages. He does his job with the nonchalance of a suburban dad in a minivan dropping his kids off at the mall.

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3:26am

Thu November 6, 2014
Environment

Republican Sweep Highlights Climate Change Politics In Alaska

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 11:15 am

Oil, carried here by the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, is fundamental to the state's economy. But Alaskans also face the effects of climate change in their daily lives.
Al Grillo AP

On election night in a hotel ballroom in Anchorage, Alaska, Sen. Lisa Murkowski picked up a chair and waved it over her head.

"I am the chairmaaaaaaaaaaan!" she shouted.

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5:38pm

Thu October 30, 2014
The Two-Way

Maker Of 'Body Cams' Used By Police Reports Spike In Sales

Originally published on Thu October 30, 2014 7:31 pm

Washington, D.C., police officer Debra Domino wears a body camera at City Hall in September.
Brendan Smialowski AFP/Getty Images

Taser International is reporting a big jump in demand by police departments for "body cameras." The company, one of the biggest providers of body cams to police departments, says 2014 sales of its "Axon Body" model are up 300 percent over last year, and sales of its more expensive "Axon Flex" camera have doubled.

And what's interesting is that this spike started well before the August shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

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5:17pm

Tue October 28, 2014
The Two-Way

FBI Spoofs News Story To Send Spyware To Suspect

Originally published on Tue October 28, 2014 8:06 pm

It was already known that the FBI uses spyware to investigate people — that was clear in federal documents obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. What hasn't been fully appreciated until now was the lengths to which the FBI will go to infect a target's computer.

"Presumably, your typical Nigerian scam email offering $10 million dollars isn't going to work," says Christopher Soghoian of the ACLU.

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5:05am

Thu September 25, 2014
Research News

For Police, A Debate Over Force, Cop Culture And Confrontation

Originally published on Mon September 29, 2014 5:00 pm

New York City police officers stand guard in Times Square earlier this month after a blog affiliated with the so-called Islamic State militants mentioned the area as a target for bombing.
Andrew Burton Getty Images

Protests in Ferguson and New York this summer rekindled an old debate about how American police use force.

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5:29pm

Thu September 18, 2014
The Two-Way

Court Says Navy Investigators Illegally Scan Civilian Computers

Originally published on Thu September 18, 2014 6:23 pm

An appeals court ruling has offered a rare glimpse at the extent to which military police investigations reach into civilians' computers. Apparently, they scan civilian computers quite often — and to a degree that a 9th Circuit appeals court has now found violates the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act.

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6:08pm

Thu August 28, 2014
Around the Nation

Zero-Tolerance Policing Is Not Racism, Say St. Louis-Area Cops

Originally published on Thu August 28, 2014 11:57 pm

Police arrest a woman in Ferguson, Mo., protesting the shooting death of Michael Brown. Most officers in Ferguson and nearby Jennings are white, but the neighborhoods they police are predominantly African-American.
Scott Olson Getty Images

The protests that followed the shooting death this month of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., have rekindled long-standing complaints about racist policing, especially in the St Louis area.

Many male African-American residents there say police scrutinize them unfairly. "Every time you see a cop, it's like, 'OK, am I going to get messed with?' " says Anthony Ross. "You feel that every single time you get behind your car. Every time."

Now, police officers in and around St. Louis are becoming more vocal about defending themselves against the charges of bias.

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5:10pm

Wed August 27, 2014
Men In America

Freemasonry Still Alive And Well, And (Mostly) Men-Only

Originally published on Thu August 28, 2014 11:17 am

Danny Done, 26, worshipful master of the Queen Anne Masonic Lodge in Seattle. The fraternity is "a really interesting social network that's not online," he says.
Martin Kaste NPR

The members of the Queen Anne Masonic Lodge near downtown Seattle are on the young side. The guy in charge is 26.

Danny Done, the lodge's worshipful master, is lounging on his designated chair in the room reserved for private ceremonies.

His title comes with a top hat, though he avoids putting it on — he says it makes him look dorky. But he does like other aspects of Masonic regalia, like his Templar sword. Done uses it to point to a diagram on the wall that charts out the different kinds of Masonry.

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4:06pm

Mon August 25, 2014
U.S.

In Michael Brown's Memory, Pleas For Justice And Calm

Originally published on Mon August 25, 2014 8:16 pm

Some attendees at Michael Brown's funeral Monday in St. Louis wore ties and buttons depicting the 18-year-old, who was killed two weeks ago in Ferguson, Mo.
Robert Cohen AP

It was 80 degrees before 8 a.m. in St. Louis, but hundreds of people still lined up early to attend Michael Brown's funeral service Monday.

The 18-year-old was laid to rest at the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church, more than two weeks after his shooting death by a white police officer in the suburb of Ferguson, Mo. Brown's death touched off days of protests and violence in Ferguson.

His face was everywhere at the service, on T-shirts and silk-screened on the black ties worn by his male relatives.

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5:25pm

Sun August 24, 2014
The Two-Way

Latecomers Bring Fresh Outrage To Weary Ferguson

Originally published on Mon August 25, 2014 1:05 am

Demonstrators march towards the Ferguson Police Department on Friday to protest the killing of unarmed teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.
Adrees Latif Reuters /Landov

It's been two weeks since Michael Brown was shot, and things on Ferguson's West Florissant Avenue have calmed down a lot. The street has a festive feel, like a county fair or a town square in the old days. Locals sit on lawn chairs, kids are out on their bikes, a BBQ truck belches sweet smoke, and people watch the core group of protestors — 15 people or so — walking their block-long circuit, chanting, "Hands up! Don't Shoot!"

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11:48am

Sat August 23, 2014
Law

Even Police Body Cameras Can Lose Sight Of The Truth

Originally published on Mon August 25, 2014 1:12 pm

Many residents of Ferguson, Mo., would like to see the police wear video cameras, like this one worn by a Los Angeles police officer.
Damian Dovarganes AP

Ferguson, Mo., found a degree of civic calm this week after days and nights of angry clashes between protestors and the police.

Now the city is working to restore trust with residents after a white police officer fatally shot black teenager Michael Brown on Aug. 9. City leaders and residents say one way to do that might be to equip police with personal video cameras.

"All the cops have to have body cameras and dashboard cameras," says resident Alonzo Bond, "so everybody can be accountable."

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4:15pm

Thu July 24, 2014
Law

Botched Ariz. Execution Renews Unease Over Lethal Injections

Originally published on Thu July 24, 2014 6:22 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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6:10am

Wed July 23, 2014
Law

New York Death Reignites Decades-Old Debate Over Neck Restraints

Originally published on Wed July 23, 2014 2:53 pm

A memorial for Eric Garner rests on the pavement near the site of his death. The poster on the ground quotes Garner; video of the arrest shows him telling police officers he couldn't breathe, shortly before he lost consciousness.
John Minchillo AP

Eric Garner's funeral will be held in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Wednesday afternoon. The New Yorker died last week shortly after being wrestled to the ground by police.

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3:32am

Wed July 9, 2014
Law

States Push For Prison Sentence Overhaul; Prosecutors Push Back

Originally published on Wed July 9, 2014 8:01 am

The Lafayette Parish Correctional Center in downtown Lafayette, La. By most counts, Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the country, but sentencing reformers have loosened some of the state's mandatory minimum sentences and made parole slightly easier to get.
Denny Culbert for NPR

Some red states like Louisiana and Texas have emerged as leaders in a new movement: to divert offenders from prisons and into drug treatment, work release and other incarceration alternatives.

By most counts, Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the country. In recent years, sentencing reformers in the capital, Baton Rouge, have loosened some mandatory minimum sentences and have made parole slightly easier for offenders to get.

But as reformers in Louisiana push for change, they're also running into stiffening resistance — especially from local prosecutors.

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7:14pm

Tue June 10, 2014
The Two-Way

In A Standoff With Montana Officials, The Justice Department Blinks

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 7:59 pm

The Justice Department announced Tuesday it has resolved a two-year-old standoff with the county attorney in Missoula, Mont., in what was originally a dispute over accusations that local prosecutors weren't doing enough to prosecute rape cases.

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5:50pm

Thu May 22, 2014
All Tech Considered

Can Cop-Worn Cameras Restore Faith In New Orleans Police?

Originally published on Fri May 23, 2014 2:23 pm

Lt. Travis St. Pierre, of the New Orleans Police Department, shows off a body-worn camera during a press conference in January.
Brett Duke The Times-Picayune/Landov

Body-worn video cameras are quickly becoming standard-issue for American police, especially at departments in the process of reform. And in New Orleans, the troubled police department is now requiring almost all officers to wear the cameras.

The city's police department has a dark history of corruption, racism and brutality. The low point may have been the Danziger Bridge episode, after Hurricane Katrina, when police shot unarmed people, then covered up the crime.

These days, the department is trying to rebuild the public's trust — which is where the body cameras come in.

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6:46pm

Wed May 21, 2014
Law

Invoking 'Castle Doctrine,' Mont. Man Pleads Not Guilty In Teen's Death

Originally published on Sat December 20, 2014 4:17 pm

German student Diren Dede was fatally shot after he entered the garage of Markus Kaarma in Montana last month. Dede was on a one-year high school exchange program to the U.S.
Oliver Hardt Getty Images

Montana resident Markus Kaarma pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of murdering a German exchange student last month. Kaarma shot the 17-year-old while the student was trespassing in his garage. The case has attracted international scrutiny to the contentious debate over how far Americans may go when defending their homes.

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4:00pm

Wed April 30, 2014
News

Botched Oklahoma Execution Mobilizes Death Penalty Opponents

Originally published on Wed April 30, 2014 6:18 pm

Oklahoma death row inmate Clayton Lockett's execution was botched on Tuesday, when a relatively new combination of drugs failed to work as expected. The incident, the second of its kind in recent months, is renewing questions of what constitutes "cruel and unusual punishment."

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4:22pm

Fri April 25, 2014
Education

Wash. Loses 'No Child Left Behind' Waiver Over Teacher Evaluations

Originally published on Fri April 25, 2014 7:15 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Washington has become the first state to lose its waiver to the No Child Left Behind Act. Most states have waivers to some of the more stringent requirements of the 2001 federal law but those waivers come with conditions. As NPR's Martin Kaste reports, Washington is being punished because it didn't fulfill a condition that is very dear to the Obama administration.

MARTIN KASTE, BYLINE: What the administration wants is simple. Teachers should be evaluated, in part, on how their students do on standardized tests.

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7:54pm

Thu April 24, 2014
The Two-Way

Feds Rescind Washington State's 'No Child Left Behind' Waiver

Originally published on Thu April 24, 2014 8:09 pm

Washington has become the first state to have its "No Child Left Behind" waiver revoked by the Obama administration. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan notified the state of his decision today, which will restrict Washington's flexibility in spending federal education dollars.

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6:13pm

Fri April 18, 2014
The Salt

In The Land Of Razor Clams, Dinner Hides Deep Within The Sand

Originally published on Wed April 23, 2014 1:49 pm

Clams this fresh taste like tender calamari.
Martin Kaste/NPR

As soon as you drive into town, it's pretty clear that Long Beach, Wash., is all about the razor clam. The first clue is the giant frying pan. It's 14 feet tall and a relic of the clam festivals of the 1940s. And then there's the clam statue that spits when you insert a quarter.

But if you really want to see how much people here love their clams, you'd have to be like Karen Harrell and get up before dawn and drive out onto the blustery beach to go clam digging.

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11:50am

Tue April 15, 2014
All Tech Considered

Apple Upgrade Tracks Customers Even When Marketing Apps Are Off

Originally published on Wed April 16, 2014 10:50 am

iPhone geotracking gets better. Or is it worse?
Patrick Kovarik AFP/Getty Images

The people who design marketing apps are celebrating a change in the way iBeacon works on iPhones. That's the Bluetooth-based system that lets a store track a customer's movements, and capitalize on them. For instance, if iBeacon detects you lingering in the shoe department, it might send you a digital coupon for socks.

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4:16pm

Wed April 2, 2014
News

Survey: Americans Skeptical Of Prison For Non-Violent Drug Crimes

Originally published on Wed April 30, 2014 12:22 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Now to a new survey from the Pew Research Center that's found more evidence of a shift in public attitudes toward illegal drug use.

As NPR's Martin Kaste reports, the survey indicates growing public skepticism about prison terms for nonviolent drug offenders.

MARTIN KASTE, BYLINE: This shift has been going on for a while now. Previous polls already showed a new majority in favor of legalizing marijuana. But in this survey, you also see changing attitudes toward harder drugs.

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4:37pm

Mon March 31, 2014
Around the Nation

Washington Landslide Takes A Grim — And Fluctuating — Toll

Originally published on Tue April 1, 2014 12:08 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

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2:58pm

Tue March 25, 2014
All Tech Considered

Your Smartphone Is A Crucial Police Tool, If They Can Crack It

Originally published on Tue March 25, 2014 7:28 pm

New software and gizmos are revolutionizing police work, with social media scanners, facial recognition and other high tech items. As it turns out, though, the single most valuable new police tool is your smartphone.

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