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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Number Of The Year
5:28 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

A Majority In U.S. Favor Legal Pot, But Will That Stick?

Partiers celebrate marijuana legalization in Washington state at a pot party in Seattle earlier this month.
Elaine Thompson AP

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 1:49 am

As we near the end of 2013, NPR is taking a look at the numbers that tell the story of this year. They're numbers that, if you really understand them, give insight into the world we live in.

This year, for the first time, national polls show a majority of Americans support the legalization of marijuana. Gallup has been asking the question for four decades, and now it says 58 percent favor legalization.

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U.S.
4:06 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Washington State Growers Roll The Dice On New Pot Licenses

Washington is the second state to adopt rules for the recreational sale of marijuana. Some entrepreneurs see state-licensed pot as a golden ticket, but other growers aren't sure applying for a license makes good business sense.
Ted S. Warren AP

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 6:55 pm

Washington residents thinking about jumping into the state's new legal marijuana industry need to act soon. The deadline to apply for a state license to sell recreational pot is Dec. 19, and the applications are flooding in.

Danielle Rosellison, a loan officer in Bellingham, Wash., applied for her pot-growing license on the first day. "It's so cool," she says, laughing. "We have butterflies in our stomach all the time. I feel like they're all shot up on adrenaline."

To Rosellison and her husband, a stay-at-home dad, legal marijuana is an opportunity to change their lives.

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All Tech Considered
5:41 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

Is It The End Of The Line For The Landline?

A lineman grounds a line on a replacement pole in McNeill, Miss., after 2012 Christmas day storms downed both telephone and electric power lines and poles throughout the state. Upkeep on traditional landlines is expensive, and some are pushing for relaxing requirements that phone companies maintain these lines.
Rogelio V. Solis AP

Originally published on Tue November 19, 2013 2:35 pm

America's traditional phone system is not as dependable as it used to be. Just last month, the Federal Communications Commission told phone companies to start collecting stats on calls that fail to complete. According to one estimate, as many as 1 in 5 incoming long-distance calls simply doesn't connect.

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Law
5:01 pm
Wed November 6, 2013

There May Be A Green Light For Pot, But Not For Driving High

In Washington state, dogs don't need to sniff out pot anymore, but troopers are keeping an eye out for high drivers.
Matthew Staver Bloomberg via Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 6, 2013 8:44 pm

Western states have led the way in the legalization of marijuana, first with medical marijuana, and then with the legalization of recreational pot in Colorado and Washington last November.

It's been quite an adjustment for the police. Washington State Patrol is adapting to the new reality in a variety of ways, from untraining dogs that sniff out pot, to figuring out how to police high drivers.

A Smell Once Forbidden

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Around the Nation
5:12 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

Infosys To Pay $34 Million To Settle Immigration Fraud Case

Originally published on Wed October 30, 2013 6:00 pm

The Indian IT company Infosys has tentatively agreed to pay the U.S. government $34 million for alleged immigration violations.

All Tech Considered
3:38 am
Mon October 28, 2013

A Look Into Facebook's Potential To Recognize Anybody's Face

Social media companies like Facebook won't talk about who can access face-tagging data. That silence is a problem, privacy advocates say.
iStockPhoto.com

Originally published on Tue October 29, 2013 5:00 pm

Revelations about NSA spying have left people wondering about the privacy of their digital data. But what about the privacy of their faces?

The movies make facial recognition look easy: In the 1998 film Enemy of the State, a team of NSA agents simply freeze a surveillance tape, tap some keys and identify the face a few computer beeps later.

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All Tech Considered
5:39 pm
Wed October 23, 2013

It's Easy To Blame The Canadians For HealthCare.gov Problems

Heavy Internet traffic and system problems plagued the launch of the new HealthCare.gov insurance exchange site.
Karen Bleier AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed October 23, 2013 6:43 pm

President Obama is putting former CEO Jeff Zients in charge of the "tech surge" — the administration's emergency effort to fix the Web portal at the heart of the federal government's new health care market. But what about the contractors that built the system? What's their responsibility?

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Around the Nation
5:35 am
Tue October 22, 2013

Seattle Suburb Considers Setting $15 'Living Wage'

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 6:53 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Minimum wage workers in a tiny suburb of Seattle may soon get a big pay raise - a big raise - if voters approve a controversial ballot initiative there next month.

NPR's Martin Kaste reports.

MARTIN KASTE, BYLINE: This is SeaTac - it's a smallish suburb halfway between Seattle and Tacoma - hence the name - and the site of the international airport. Tucked behind the long-term parking lots is a low-rise apartment building that's home to some of the airport's workers.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOOR OPENING)

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The Salt
6:39 pm
Wed October 16, 2013

So What Happens If The Movement To Label GMOs Succeeds?

Labels on bags of snack foods indicate they are non-GMO food products.
Robyn Beck AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 8:09 pm

I have a story on All Things Considered Wednesday (click on the audio link above to hear it) about the campaign to put labels on food containing genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. The idea is gaining ground in the Northeast — Maine and Connecticut passed labeling laws this summer, though they won't take effect unless more states do the same. And GMO labeling is on the ballot this November in Washington state.

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National Security
3:59 am
Thu September 19, 2013

ACLU Posts Fed-Collected 'Suspicious' Activity Reports Online

In the last few years, the feds have expanded efforts to collect tips about people's behavior in the real world. At a fusion center in Las Vegas, workers like Daniel Burns, a program coordinator, analyze suspicious activity reports. The ACLU on Thursday posted more than 1,800 of these reports that were gathered in central California.
Monica Lam Center for Investigative Reporting

Originally published on Mon September 30, 2013 2:29 pm

With all the talk of spying by the National Security Agency, it's easy to forget the government engages in off-line surveillance, too. In the last few years, the feds have expanded efforts to collect tips about people's behavior in the real world; they're called suspicious activity reports.

Hal Bergman, a freelance photographer in Los Angeles, has a fondness for industrial scenes, bridges, ports and refineries.

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Mental Health
5:08 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

After Attacks, Seattle Rethinks How To Treat Mentally Ill

Police officials stand next to a bullet-ridden Seattle Metro bus on Aug. 12. A man with a history of mental illness shot and wounded the driver, then died in a chaotic shootout with police.
Ted S. Warren AP

Originally published on Wed September 18, 2013 8:01 pm

The Navy Yard massacre may renew concerns over the potential dangers of mentally ill people who don't get treatment. That issue is especially hot right now in Seattle, where the mayor has called untreated mental illness an "emergency."

Unstable In Seattle

Seattle's Pioneer Square is an uneasy mix of art galleries and skid road; it's gelato over here, and heroin over there. And then there's mental illness.

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Business
5:08 am
Thu September 5, 2013

Data Marketing Critics Check Out What's Written About Them

Originally published on Thu September 5, 2013 9:34 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Companies that collect and sell information about you are usually pretty secretive about what they have on you. But one of the biggest data brokers is now letting consumers have a peek.

Yesterday, the Acxiom Corp. set up a website where people can look themselves up. It's called AboutTheData.com. As NPR's Martin Kaste reports, some of the first people to try it were the data industry's critics.

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The Impact of War
7:55 am
Sat August 24, 2013

Afghan Massacre Survivors Disappointed In Bales Sentence

Originally published on Sat August 24, 2013 11:39 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Staff Sergeant Robert Bales was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole yesterday in an Army courtroom in Washington state. Sergeant Bales confessed to sneaking off his base in Afghanistan last year and committing a massacre, killing 16 civilians - men, women and children. As NPR's Martin Kaste reports, the end of the case offered little comfort to survivors of the massacre, some of whom were in the courtroom to hear the sentence.

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Law
5:01 pm
Fri August 23, 2013

Sgt. Bales Sentenced To Life In Prison For Afghan Murders

Originally published on Fri August 23, 2013 9:12 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Now to the other major court martial we've been following, that of Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales. He pleaded guilty to killing 16 civilians, mostly women and children, during a nighttime massacre in Afghanistan. That plea allowed him to avoid the death penalty. Today, a military jury sentenced Bales to life in prison without the possibility of parole. But as NPR's Martin Kaste reports, that sentence was not harsh enough for relatives of Bales' Afghan victims.

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Law
4:21 am
Fri August 23, 2013

Attorneys Offer Court Context For Staff Sgt. Bales' Crimes

Originally published on Fri August 23, 2013 7:25 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm David Greene.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

In a courtroom at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State yesterday, Staff Sergeant Robert Bales apologized. Robert Bales has pled guilty to massacring 16 villagers in Afghanistan, mostly women and children. This morning, a military jury will decide whether his life sentence will be with or without the possibility of parole.

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Law
4:49 am
Thu August 22, 2013

Lawyers For Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales To Ask For Leniency

Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 12:43 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne. We're following developments in Egypt after today's release from prison of ousted President Hosni Mubarak. We'll go to Cairo in a moment. We begin this hour with stories of two military trials in this country. Both involve horrendous massacres.

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Law
5:22 pm
Tue August 20, 2013

With Pot Legal In Washington, Will Buyers Stay Underground?

Seattle law enforcement's mellow attitude toward pot was on display at this year's annual Hempfest, where the cops were at the gate — handing out bags of Doritos.
Martin Kaste NPR

Originally published on Tue August 20, 2013 9:25 pm

In Washington state, regulators are putting the finishing touches on rules for the new state-sanctioned recreational marijuana market. And the man hired to help shape those rules is raising a warning to local law enforcement: toughen up on the black market.

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Law
4:31 am
Thu August 8, 2013

Defense Lawyers Want Out Of Fort Hood Shooting Trial

Maj. Nidal Hasan faces 13 charges of murder and 32 of attempted murder for the November 2009 shootings at Fort Hood, Texas.
Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 5:30 am

The judge in the court martial of accused Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan is expected to announce Thursday what she's going to do about a rebellion in her courtroom.

A team of Army defense lawyers told her on Wednesday that they want to be released from their job.

The defense lawyers want out because they think Hasan is purposely trying to lose this trial.

Hasan fired them in May, but the judge made them stay on to offer Hasan technical help with court procedures.

Now the lead defense lawyer says that arrangement is "untenable."

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Law
4:08 pm
Tue August 6, 2013

Fort Hood Shooter A 'Shrunken' Presence In Court Martial

Originally published on Tue August 6, 2013 7:25 pm

The court martial of Army Maj. Nidal Hasan began Tuesday at Fort Hood in Texas. Hasan is defending himself and told jurors that the evidence will show he was the man who killed 13 soldiers in 2009. But he said that the trial will not tell the whole story.

All Tech Considered
3:34 pm
Wed July 31, 2013

The Online Underworld's Elaborate Prank To Ship Heroin

Originally published on Wed July 31, 2013 4:01 pm

Cybercriminals are scary, but at least the harm they do is just in cyberspace. So they hack your Twitter, or maybe cause a few zeros to disappear (temporarily) from your bank account. They can't hurt you in any real-world way, right?

Wrong.

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