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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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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4:33pm

Tue May 29, 2012
National Security

Watching Big Brother: Privacy Board Delayed

Originally published on Tue May 29, 2012 8:45 pm

Homeland Security analysts watch for threats to U.S. technological infrastructure at the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center.
Jim Watson AFP/Getty Images

Congress is considering legislation allowing the government to search through Internet traffic for early warnings of cyberattacks. The bills are controversial — worries about government surveillance have led to protests online.

The government does have a tool that could calm fears about this kind of legislation — it just doesn't use it.

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4:54pm

Mon April 30, 2012
Technology

Europe Pressures U.S. Tech On Internet Privacy Laws

Originally published on Mon April 30, 2012 5:34 pm

Demonstrators with Guy Fawkes masks protest changing privacy policies on March 31, in Vienna.
Ronald Zak DAPD/AP

America's big technology companies are negotiating the details of a new privacy system called "Do Not Track," to let people shield their personal data on websites. There's no deal yet, but people inside the talks say the main reason American companies are even considering "Do Not Track" is the pressure they're feeling from Europe.

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5:11pm

Mon April 23, 2012
Politics

When Politicians Slip, Video Trackers Are There

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

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

4:00am

Tue April 10, 2012
Technology

'Do Not Track' Web Browser Option Gains Steam

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

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

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.

Read more

4:49pm

Fri April 6, 2012
Law

Faith In Seattle Police 'Shaken' By DOJ Investigation

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

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

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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4:00am

Thu March 22, 2012
U.S.

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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4:40am

Sun March 18, 2012
Afghanistan

For Suspect In Afghan Attack, A Praised Record

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

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

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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4:00am

Tue March 13, 2012
Around the Nation

Lewis-McChord Soldiers Generate Alarming Headlines

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

The American soldier who allegedly shot and killed 16 men, women and children in two Afghan villages was from an Army base outside Tacoma, Washington. The Army/Air Force installation, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, is one of the biggest in the military.

It's also, as NPR's Martin Kaste reports, one of the most troubled.

(SOUNDBITE OF AIRCRAFT)

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6:52am

Sun March 4, 2012
Presidential Race

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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4:00am

Fri March 2, 2012
Election 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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4:29pm

Tue February 28, 2012
Law

Wash. Lawmakers Fight For DNA Sampling At Arrest

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

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

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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6:28am

Mon February 27, 2012
Law

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.

4:50pm

Thu February 9, 2012
Law

Gay Marriage Opponents Take Battle To The Ballot

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

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

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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4:10pm

Wed February 1, 2012
Around the Nation

If Power Lines Fall, Why Don't They Go Underground?

A crew of linemen working for Puget Sound Energy remove a power pole that fell down after a tree covered in ice fell on a transmission line near a substation in January in Olympia, Wash. Weather and tree branches cause 40 percent of power outages in the U.S.
Ted S. Warren AP

Last month, a week of winter weather cut power to hundreds of thousands of people in the Seattle area for several days.

A lot of those people were left pondering an old question: Why are their neighborhood power lines strung aboveground?

Nobody seems to have a complete answer.

Read more

12:01am

Wed January 18, 2012
Energy

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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5:53pm

Thu January 12, 2012
Energy

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

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

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

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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