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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4:33pm

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.

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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.

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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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5:55pm

Thu January 5, 2012
Around the Nation

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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12:01am

Tue January 3, 2012
Economy

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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4:15pm

Mon December 26, 2011
News

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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2:39am

Tue December 13, 2011
Around the Nation

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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3:00pm

Fri December 9, 2011
Politics

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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4:41pm

Thu November 24, 2011
Law

How Private Is Your Email? It Depends

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

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

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.

Read more

5:06pm

Fri November 11, 2011
The Two-Way

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.

Read more

12:01am

Mon November 7, 2011
Digital Life

As More Police Wear Cameras, Policy Questions Arise

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

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

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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9:15am

Tue November 1, 2011
Sports

A Final Resting Place On The Green, But No Mulligans

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

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

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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12:01am

Thu October 20, 2011
Around the Nation

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.

Read more

3:03pm

Thu October 6, 2011
Technology

With No Steve Jobs, Will Apple Lose Its Juice?

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 11:21 am

In June, Steve Jobs spoke at a Cupertino City Council meeting to show off his plan for a new headquarters. Even though he was looking quite unwell, he still knew all of the project's details.

AP

The tech world is mourning Steve Jobs, who died Wednesday from complications of pancreatic cancer. Even as the tributes roll in, it's hard to avoid this nagging question: What will become of Apple without its charismatic co-founder?

Jobs rescued Apple from near bankruptcy and turned it into one of America's most important companies — and one of its biggest. Now, Apple is trying to keep the Jobs magic alive.

A Knack For Detail

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4:40pm

Wed September 28, 2011
Digital Life

Who Are You, Really? Activists Fight For Pseudonyms

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

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

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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12:01am

Wed September 21, 2011
Politics

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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11:52am

Tue September 13, 2011
Health

Doctors Counter Vaccine Fears In Pacific Northwest

Originally published on Tue September 13, 2011 6:48 pm

Many parents today expect to have choices — and that includes picking and choosing which vaccines their children gets.
iStockphoto.com

Parts of the U.S. are seeing a drop-off in vaccination rates among young children. The falling rates don't necessarily track with poverty or other poor public health trends; in fact, a recent U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report flagged the poorest rates of kindergarten vaccination in relatively prosperous states, like Washington and Oregon.

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