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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7:35pm

Wed May 15, 2013
The Two-Way

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

Originally published on Wed May 15, 2013 9:35 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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3:19am

Tue April 30, 2013
All Tech Considered

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

Originally published on Mon May 6, 2013 3:27 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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4:46pm

Wed March 20, 2013
All Tech Considered

Yes, Your New Car Has A 'Black Box.' Where's The Off Switch?

Originally published on Wed March 20, 2013 6:43 pm

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

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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4:30pm

Wed March 6, 2013
U.S.

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

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

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

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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6:06pm

Fri February 22, 2013
U.S.

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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4:36pm

Wed February 6, 2013
It's All Politics

From Oil Fields To REI, Interior Nominee Has Outdoorsy Cred

Originally published on Wed February 6, 2013 7:19 pm

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

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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4:03am

Tue January 29, 2013
Law

Armed 'Good Guys' And The Realities Of Facing A Gunman

Originally published on Tue January 29, 2013 8:18 pm

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

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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3:34am

Mon January 28, 2013
Digital Life

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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5:18pm

Wed December 26, 2012
NPR Story

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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6:07am

Tue December 18, 2012
Remembrances

Sen. Inouye, A War Hero Who Broke Barriers, Dies At 88

Originally published on Tue December 18, 2012 1:06 pm

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

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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6:36am

Tue December 11, 2012
Digital Life

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.

2:23am

Wed December 5, 2012
Around the Nation

Pot's Legal In Washington State, But Don't Drive High

Originally published on Tue March 5, 2013 12:10 pm

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

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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5:04am

Fri November 30, 2012
Law

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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5:42pm

Fri November 16, 2012
Technology

Post-Petraeus, Net Privacy Backers Hope For A Boost

Originally published on Fri November 16, 2012 10:20 pm

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

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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4:29pm

Sun November 11, 2012
All Tech Considered

Left Homeless, Storm Victims Turn To Internet To Find Shelter

Originally published on Mon November 12, 2012 10:29 am

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

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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5:51am

Thu November 8, 2012
Around the Nation

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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4:54pm

Wed November 7, 2012
Environment

Can Dumping Iron Into The Sea Fight Climate Change?

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

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

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.

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6:17am

Tue November 6, 2012
Around the Nation

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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5:49pm

Mon November 5, 2012
Around the Nation

Thousands Of New Yorkers Homeless After Sandy

Tens of thousands of people have been forced out of their homes as a result of superstorm Sandy. Melissa Block talks with Martin Kaste about the situation and the government's response.

4:43pm

Wed October 24, 2012
Law

Three Ballot Measures Would OK Pot Beyond Medicine

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

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

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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4:18pm

Fri October 19, 2012
It's All Politics

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

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

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

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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6:17am

Sat October 13, 2012
Parallel Lives

Hawaii Prep School Gave Obama Window To Success

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

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

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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5:41pm

Mon October 1, 2012
It's All Politics

Montana Democrat Faces An Uphill Battle To Keep His Senate Seat

Originally published on Mon October 1, 2012 6:23 pm

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., (center) campaigns at a parade Saturday in Belgrade, Mont.
Martin Kaste NPR

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.

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4:22pm

Thu September 20, 2012
U.S.

You Can Buy An Island, But Can You Really Own It?

Originally published on Thu September 20, 2012 7:23 pm

The Four Seasons resort on Lanai. Software mogul Larry Ellison recently bought virtually the entire Hawaiian island.
Martin Kaste NPR

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.

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4:02pm

Thu September 13, 2012
It's All Politics

Can A Republican Win A Senate Seat In Blue Hawaii?

Originally published on Thu September 13, 2012 11:19 pm

Former Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle gives a victory speech in Honolulu after winning the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate on Aug. 11.
Marco Garcia AP

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.

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5:48pm

Tue July 31, 2012
Media

Newspaper Takes A Stand On Anonymous Commenters

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 7:09 pm

Linda Cook eventually revealed herself as the commenter who made a disparaging remark about an Idaho Republican Party official online.
Sandy Clemons Courtesy of Linda Cook

The Internet is slowly becoming a less anonymous place. YouTube has a new policy encouraging commenters to use their real names, and many news sites have switched to a login system run by Facebook.

News sites that still allow anonymous comments are finding there are legal risks. The Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, Wash., has spent the last few months trying to protect the identity of a reader who saw a photo of a Republican Party official in Idaho named Tina Jacobson, and then posted a disparaging comment.

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4:18pm

Wed July 11, 2012
American Dreams: Then And Now

Korean Families Chase Their Dreams In The U.S.

Originally published on Wed July 11, 2012 5:33 pm

Hyungsoo Kim brought his sons Woosuk (left) and Whoohyun to California from Korea so the boys could get an American public-school education. In "goose families," one parent migrates to an English-speaking country with the children, while the other parent stays in Korea.
Martin Kaste NPR

Eleven-year-old Woosuk Kim sees his mother only three or four times a year. That's because he's part of what Koreans call a "goose family": a family that migrates in search of English-language schooling.

A goose family, Woosuk explains, means "parents — mom and dad — have to be separate for the kids' education."

Woosuk's father brought him and his little brother to America two years ago to attend Hancock Park Elementary, a public school in Los Angeles. The boys' mother stayed in South Korea to keep working.

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12:58pm

Wed June 20, 2012
The Salt

Seattle Forager Inspires Others To Learn About Wild, Forgotten Foods

Originally published on Wed June 20, 2012 9:17 pm

Langdon Cook shows off the morel and porcini mushrooms he's foraged and stored in the trunk of his car.
Martin Kaste NPR

For Langdon Cook, a walk in the woods isn't that different from a walk through the produce section of the supermarket. He's a writer, blogger and all-around outdoorsy type, but in outdoorsy Seattle, he's made his name primarily as a forager.

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5:20pm

Tue June 19, 2012
Environment

As Tsunami Debris Crosses Pacific, Dangers Emerge

Originally published on Tue June 19, 2012 6:59 pm

A nearly 70-foot dock that was torn loose from a fishing port in northern Japan by last year's tsunami washed ashore on Agate Beach in Oregon. Marine scientists have found potentially invasive species among the 100 tons of marine life that traveled aboard the dock.
Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation AP

Beaches on the West Coast are getting a regular dose of debris from the 2011 tsunami in Japan. The first few items were curiosities — a boat here, a soccer ball there — but as the litter accumulates, officials such as Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire have acknowledged the scale of the problem.

"We are in for a steady dribble of tsunami debris over the next few years, so any response by us must be well-planned — and it will be," she said.

Beyond the obvious problem of litter, officials are on the lookout for hidden dangers.

Debris 'Everywhere'

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5:17am

Wed May 30, 2012
World

Computer Security Companies Debate Flame's Origins

Originally published on Wed May 30, 2012 6:34 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Yesterday, on this program we told you about a new cyber-spying program that goes by the name Flame. Kaspersky Lab, a Russian computer security company, says it found the program lurking on computers in the Middle East. The company says Flame is a very sophisticated piece of spyware, so sophisticated, it must have been created by a country's government. But as NPR's Martin Kaste reports, it didn't take long for other security experts to cast doubt on those claims.

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