Martin Kaste

Martin Kaste is a correspondent on NPR's National desk. He covers law enforcement and privacy, as well as news from the Pacific Northwest.

In addition to general assignment reporting in the U.S., Kaste has contributed to NPR News coverage of major world events, including the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and the 2011 uprising in Libya.

Kaste has reported on the government's warrant-less wiretapping practices as well as the data-collection and analysis that go on behind the scenes in social media and other new media. His privacy reporting was cited in the U.S. Supreme Court's 2012 United States v. Jones ruling concerning GPS tracking.

Before moving to the West Coast, Kaste spent five years as NPR's reporter 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, 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 political 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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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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4:42pm

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

5:54pm

Wed April 18, 2012
Around the Nation

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

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

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

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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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 Disturbing 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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4:29pm

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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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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