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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News
4:16 pm
Wed April 2, 2014

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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Around the Nation
4:33 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

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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Around the Nation
5:09 am
Thu March 27, 2014

Landslide Dangers Abound In Whatcom County, Wash.

Originally published on Mon March 31, 2014 12:18 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

And I'm Linda Wertheimer.

Search crews working in Oso, Wash., north of Seattle, have now found 24 bodies at the site of Saturday's massive landslide. As the efforts there settle into a grim routine, local officials face questions about why so many people lived in such a hazardous area.

NPR's Martin Kaste reports.

(SOUNDBITE OF HELICOPTER)

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All Tech Considered
2:58 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

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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All Tech Considered
2:56 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

The Security Cracks In Your Smartphone

Stephen Krow iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue March 25, 2014 5:25 pm

Law enforcement's ability to get past your phone password depends on "exploits," hacker tricks that take advantage of vulnerabilities in the phones' operating systems. Many exploits are kept quiet, to be sold to criminals or security companies. Others leak out. Here's a list of some of the known cracks in the security of the two major types of smartphone.

Apple/iOS

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News
4:07 pm
Mon March 24, 2014

Caution And Concern Prevail In Days Following Washington Landslide

Originally published on Mon March 24, 2014 6:46 pm

Officials in Washington say they've received 108 reports of people missing in the region hit by a recent landslide. But they say that is a "soft number" and rescue efforts continue.

Around the Nation
5:51 am
Mon March 24, 2014

Treacherous Mud Slide Debris Challenges Rescue Workers

Originally published on Mon March 24, 2014 12:25 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Search and rescue efforts resume today as soon as the sun comes up on the scene of a landslide about 50 miles north of Seattle. This slide wiped out part of a small town a couple of days ago, killing at least eight people. And authorities are not sure how many people are still missing.

NPR's Martin Kaste reports.

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Around the Nation
6:12 am
Wed March 12, 2014

Missoula County Attorney Tells Justice Department It's Wrong

Originally published on Wed March 12, 2014 7:32 am

Accused of bias against female victims of sex crimes, the Missoula county attorney turned around and accused the Justice Department of bully tactics. DOJ officials showed up in Missoula two years ago.

Around the Nation
5:43 am
Sat March 1, 2014

Sand Grinds World's Largest Tunneling Machine To A Halt

The Seattle tunneling machine known as Bertha, which started its task in July, is now stuck 60 feet underground.
Ted S. Warren AP

Originally published on Sat March 1, 2014 11:03 am

Contractors working for the state of Washington are planning a high-stakes operation to rescue Bertha — the world's largest tunneling machine.

Bertha is supposed to be boring a 2-mile highway tunnel under downtown Seattle, but it got stuck in December.

Bertha is on Seattle's waterfront, between South Main and South Jackson streets, about 60 feet straight down. At first, they thought the machine was being stymied by a big glacial rock. Then attention focused on the chewed-up remains of a metal pipe. But now it seems Bertha's ailment is mechanical.

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All Tech Considered
8:45 pm
Fri February 28, 2014

As Police Monitor Social Media, Legal Lines Become Blurred

BlueJay, a tool by social media monitoring company BrightPlanet, shows the locations of tweeters who have left their geotagging option activated.
BlueJay screenshot

Originally published on Fri February 28, 2014 10:35 pm

Social media monitoring started in the world of marketing, allowing companies to track what people were saying about their brands. But now, with software that allows users to scan huge volumes of public postings on social media, police are starting to embrace it as well.

Many police departments in Britain use a product sold by CrowdControlHQ. CEO James Leavesley says the company is in the business of monitoring "social media risk."

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All Tech Considered
4:01 pm
Fri February 28, 2014

As Police Monitor Social Media, Legal Lines Become Blurred

BlueJay, a tool by social media monitoring company BrightPlanet, shows the locations of tweeters who have left their geotagging option activated.
BlueJay screenshot

Originally published on Fri February 28, 2014 8:33 pm

Social monitoring started in the world of marketing, allowing companies to track what people were saying about their brands. But now, with software that allows users to scan huge volumes of public postings on social media, police are starting to embrace it as well.

Many police departments in Britain use a product sold by CrowdControlHQ. CEO James Leavesley calls it a "social media risk media and monitoring" company, meant primarily as a means of staying in touch with the public. But Leavesley says it's also a way to detect trouble.

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All Tech Considered
4:05 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

In 'Domain Awareness,' Detractors See Another NSA

Protesters line up outside City Hall in Oakland, Calif., to demonstrate against the Domain Awareness Center, a data integration system being built by the city and the Port of Oakland.
Martin Kaste NPR

Originally published on Tue March 25, 2014 3:00 pm

Police are like the rest of us; they suffer from information overload. The data pour in from 21st century sources ranging from license plate readers to Twitter. But as the information comes in, it hits an old-fashioned bottleneck: human beings.

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Technology
4:13 pm
Mon February 17, 2014

Cold War Technology Sought By Spy Is In Your Pocket — Sort Of

Originally published on Mon February 17, 2014 7:59 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

And now to All Tech Considered.

(SOUNDBITE OF THEME MUSIC)

CORNISH: Today is a tricky business of keeping some American technologies out of foreign hands. When a man from Hong Kong met with an aerospace company in Seattle last week, he was really dealing with an undercover Homeland Security agent. See Kee Chin allegedly tried to buy $85,000 worth of highly specialized accelerometers. He was arrested and charged with trying to smuggle the parts to China.

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The Two-Way
2:53 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

New Animation Details What Went Wrong In 2010 Plant Explosion

A Tesoro Corp. refinery is shown Friday, April 2, 2010, in Anacortes, Wash., after an explosion and fire that killed eight people.
Ted S. Warren AP

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board has released its draft report into the causes of a devastating 2010 explosion at a Tesoro refinery on Puget Sound. The accident killed seven workers, and the community has been increasingly upset by how long the investigation has dragged on.

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The Two-Way
5:10 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

Holder Favors Pot Banking, And Legal Dealers Shrug

A marijuana bud and cash at a shop in Denver. An owner of marijuana stores in the city says of his company's bank account, "We treat it like gold."
Ed Andrieski AP

When I heard late Thursday that Attorney General Eric Holder had come out in favor of bank accounts for state-sanctioned pot businesses, I assumed the industry would react with cheers. After all, they've long complained about being black-balled by banks, which are justifiably afraid of violating federal laws against handling drug money.

But when I started calling around today, the reactions ranged from "That's nice" to "Meh."

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The Two-Way
6:05 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

In Seattle, No Simple Answers For A Stalled Tunneling Machine

In this photo made with a fisheye wide-angle lens, "Bertha" is shown in July as it prepares to begin tunneling in Seattle.
Ted S. Warren AP

Originally published on Fri January 24, 2014 9:38 am

Ever wonder what happened with Bertha — the world's biggest tunneling machine, stuck under Seattle? We last checked in on the story right before Christmas, when engineers were preparing to send down inspection teams to identify the blockage. People (OK, the media) were having a grand time, floating ridiculous guesses about what the mysterious object might be. An old ship? Dinosaur bones? Bigfoot?

One month later, there's still no clear answer. Certainly nothing headline-grabbing.

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U.S.
5:09 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Marijuana 'Hash Oil' Explodes In Popularity, And Kitchens

Jim Andersen displays butane hash oil at a marijuana growing facility in Seattle in April 2013. The state's licensed producers will be required to use professional-grade equipment when making the extracts.
Elaine Thompson AP

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 7:19 pm

If you think the recent liberalization of marijuana laws around the country is only about smoking leaves and buds, think again. For users younger than 25, "hash oil" is where it's really at. This concentrated resin of marijuana is creating new public safety headaches — even in places where it's legal.

There have always been forms of the substance, but the resins available today are much stronger than in years past. That's due in part to the expertise developed by medical marijuana producers, who have learned how to make more potent versions of the oil.

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Around the Nation
5:09 am
Tue January 7, 2014

Catholic School Students Protest Firing Over Gay Marriage

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 6:56 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The issue we just heard about is also making news in suburban Seattle. A Catholic school there apparently fired a staff member for being in a same-sex marriage. NPR's Martin Kaste has more.

MARTIN KASTE, BYLINE: Mark Zmuda was a vice principal at Eastside Catholic School until shortly before Christmas. The school says he resigned. He insists he was fired. But both sides agree about why he left.

MARK ZMUDA: They said it was because I was married to a man, and violated Catholic teaching.

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Around the Nation
4:35 pm
Tue December 24, 2013

A Late Christmas Tree May Not Be A Beauty, But It's A Tradition

Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 8:02 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

For a lot of families, Christmas tree tradition spark household debate. For instance, tinsel or beads; white lights or multicolored; star or angel on top. And for some people, it's not how to decorate the tree. It is when to put it up, early or late, late being now, Christmas Eve. NPR's Martin Kaste falls into that last category.

MARTIN KASTE, BYLINE: Yes, I belong to that small and shrinking tribe. We're the ones lurking in the Christmas tree lots at the last possible moment. You guys shutting down already?

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Around the Nation
9:45 am
Sun December 22, 2013

'Bertha' Still Stuck In Her Tunnel Under Seattle

Originally published on Sun December 22, 2013 2:33 pm

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. The people of Seattle are puzzled by a mystery unfolding underground: the world's biggest tunneling machine is stuck about 75 feet under street level where it's digging a nearly two-mile-long highway right under downtown Seattle. As NPR's Martin Kaste reports, engineers say it'll take until January to figure out what is causing the block.

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