Martin Kaste

Martin Kaste is a correspondent on NPR's National desk. He covers the news throughout the Northwest, with an emphasis on technology and privacy stories.

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

Focusing on technology and privacy issues, Kaste has reported on the government's wireless wiretapping practices as well as the data-collection and analysis that goes on behind the scenes in social media and other new media. His privacy reporting was cited in a US Supreme Court opinion concerning GPS tracking.

Before moving to the West Coast, Kaste spent five years as a reporter for NPR based 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 and 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 policital 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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Business
3:08 am
Thu September 5, 2013

Data Marketing Critics Check Out What's Written About Them

Originally published on Thu September 5, 2013 7:34 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
5:55 am
Sat August 24, 2013

Afghan Massacre Survivors Disappointed In Bales Sentence

Originally published on Sat August 24, 2013 9:39 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
3:01 pm
Fri August 23, 2013

Sgt. Bales Sentenced To Life In Prison For Afghan Murders

Originally published on Fri August 23, 2013 7:12 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
2:49 am
Thu August 22, 2013

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

Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 10:43 am

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
3:22 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 7:25 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
3:30 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

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
2:08 pm
Tue August 6, 2013

Fort Hood Shooter A 'Shrunken' Presence In Court Martial

Originally published on Tue August 6, 2013 5:25 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.

Around the Nation
2:59 pm
Fri July 26, 2013

Can Software That Predicts Crime Pass Constitutional Muster?

Jeff Brantingham, creator of PredPol, demonstrates computer-generated "predictive policing" zones at the Los Angeles Police Department Unified Command Post in Los Angeles last year.
Damian Dovarganes AP

Originally published on Mon July 29, 2013 10:01 am

Typically, police arrive at the scene of a crime after it occurs. But rather than send cops to yesterday's crime, a new trend in law enforcement is using computers to predict where tomorrow's crimes will be — and then try to head them off.

The software uses past statistics to project where crime is moving. Police in Los Angeles say it's worked well in predicting property crimes there. Now Seattle is about to expand it for use in predicting gun violence.

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All Tech Considered
8:00 am
Wed July 17, 2013

Police May Know Exactly Where You Were Last Tuesday

An Arizona Department of Public Safety officer keeps an eye on his dashboard computer as it reads passing car license plates.
Ross D. Franklin AP

Originally published on Wed July 17, 2013 9:06 am

License plate scanners are the dark horse of the surveillance world. They've been around for a decade, but people rarely notice. They don't look much different from closed circuit cameras, perched over busy intersections. Or they're just another device mounted on a passing police car.

But they notice you: A scanner can ID thousands of plates a day. And a new ACLU report says the vast majority of police agencies now use them.

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Around the Nation
1:02 am
Mon July 15, 2013

A Peek Inside A Once Top Secret Spot In Atomic Age History

Take a tour of the Hanford site, a nuclear production complex in Richland, Wash., and you'll see the hundreds of mechanical water pressure gauges wired to the process tubes inside the core. Tour guide Paul Vinther warns that bumping these gauges could throw off the readings enough to trigger a an emergency shutdown of the reactor.
Martin Kaste NPR

Originally published on Fri July 19, 2013 9:40 am

People tend to remember that the atomic bomb was developed at Los Alamos, N.M., and Oak Ridge, Tenn., but they often forget about a third nuclear production complex — the Hanford Site in Richland, Wash. It's where they built the world's first full-scale nuclear reactor.

The "B Reactor" is a windowless, cinder block hulk out in the middle of nowhere. You might mistake it for an abandoned cement plant. But inside, it's a lovingly preserved time capsule of the Atomic Age. If you're lucky, your guide will be one of the people who worked here when the place was still new.

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All Tech Considered
6:22 am
Wed July 10, 2013

Utah Internet Firm Defies State's Warrantless Subpoena Law

Pete Ashdown is founder and CEO of XMission, Utah's oldest Internet service provider.
Flickr via Center for Study of Ethics at UVU

Originally published on Wed July 10, 2013 7:51 am

Utah's oldest Internet service provider, XMission, has refused to give up customer information to law enforcement, reports The Salt Lake Tribune. Specifically, the company says it won't comply with administrative subpoenas.

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All Tech Considered
2:52 pm
Tue July 2, 2013

Tools To Help You Hide Online Raise The Ire Of Advertisers

People wait to attend a Mozilla press conference in Barcelona, Spain, in February. Mozilla's Firefox and other Web browsers allow users to opt out of third-party tracking cookies.
Josep Lago AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue July 2, 2013 6:12 pm

When Mozilla announced a plan to improve its system for blocking third-party cookies, it didn't seem like the kind of thing that would make waves. But it didn't take long for the Internet advertising industry to react — furiously.

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U.S.
1:25 am
Wed June 26, 2013

Some Tech Companies Find Ways Not To Hire Americans

Tech workers looking for jobs may think twice before looking at job ads that are targeted at Americans but actually are intended for foreigners.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed June 26, 2013 9:31 am

Lawmakers continue to wrangle over a bill that would overhaul the nation's immigration system. One provision in this bill would allow companies to import a lot more skilled workers. The tech industry has lobbied hard for this, despite fears among some American workers about the extra competition.

Illinois Senator Dick Durbin says the bill has American workers covered. "Employers will be given a chance to hire a temporary foreign worker when truly needed. But first, they'll be required to recruit Americans. No exceptions, no excuses," he said.

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National Security
3:33 am
Tue June 11, 2013

As Government Surveillance Powers Grow, Privacy Is Redefined

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Since the events of 9/11, the public has had several glimpses into the government's growing surveillance powers. But as NPR's Martin Kaste reports, the resulting scandals and the losses appear to have done little to roll back that surveillance.

MARTIN KASTE, BYLINE: The first real case of surveillance blowback came as early as 2002.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DANIEL SCHORR: The most far-reaching plan yet for domestic snooping is being researched in the Pentagon. It is called Total Information Awareness, TIA.

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National Security
9:30 am
Sat June 8, 2013

Watchdog Agency Could Keep NSA In Check, Once It Gets Going

Originally published on Sun June 9, 2013 3:39 am

On Friday, President Obama defended the two NSA surveillance programs that were leaked to the news media this week.

One program collects the general public's phone records, the other allegedly gives the government backdoor access to Internet services such as Google and Facebook.

Obama said the programs "strike the right balance," but that's done little to reassure those who think government surveillance has become too broad.

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Law
4:46 am
Thu June 6, 2013

Sgt. Bales Avoids Death Penalty By Pleading Guilty To Afghan Attack

Originally published on Thu June 6, 2013 5:43 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Yesterday, an Army judge accepted the guilty plea of Staff Sergeant Robert Bales. Bales is on trial at a military base in Washington State for the massacre last year of 16 people, mostly women and children, in a rural Afghan village. By pleading guilty, Bales will avoid the death penalty.

But as NPR's Martin Kaste reports, the work of his lawyers is not yet done.

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Around the Nation
4:03 am
Wed June 5, 2013

Army Sgt. To Plead Guilty In Afghan Village Attack

Originally published on Wed June 5, 2013 5:47 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

And I'm Linda Wertheimer.

Today will be a dramatic one at the Lewis-McChord military base in Washington state. That is where Sergeant Robert Bales will stand before an Army judge and confess to killing 16 Afghan villagers in a late-night rampage last year. His confession is part of a plea deal that could save Bales from the death penalty.

NPR's Martin Kaste reports from Seattle.

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U.S.
4:24 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

Soldier Accused Of Killing Afghan Civilians To Plead Guilty

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 5:18 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The American soldier accused of killing 16 villagers in Afghanistan last year plans to plead guilty in order to avoid the death penalty. Lawyers say Staff Sergeant Robert Bales will plead guilty to 16 counts of premeditated murder next week and that his sentencing trial will be held in September.

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Business
2:41 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

Tech Companies Have A Lot At Stake With Immigration Bill

Originally published on Tue May 21, 2013 3:43 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

The immigration bill that's working its way through the Senate gives the tech industry something it has long asked for: more visas for skilled workers from overseas. But the original bill also came with something the tech industry didn't like: rules to keep those foreign workers from taking the jobs of Americans. As NPR's Martin Kaste reports, key senators agreed to loosen those rules.

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The Two-Way
5:39 pm
Wed May 15, 2013

Take Your Seat, The 'No Photography' Sign Is Lit

An American Airlines plane at Miami International Airport in February.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 15, 2013 7:35 pm

You probably saw this bit of Internet virality earlier this week — showing a woman getting kicked off an American Airlines flight for channeling Whitney Houston.

What caught our attention was the sound of flight attendants repeatedly ordering passengers not to take pictures or (presumably) videos.

Apparently, it's an official rule at American Airlines:

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Politics
3:55 am
Thu May 9, 2013

Facebook Joins Lobby For Overhauling Immigration

Some progressive groups are angry with Facebook for running ads supporting GOP lawmakers on board with the immigration overhaul bill. The left-wing groups have turned a blind eye to what Facebook gets out of the overhaul measure, and what it may cost American tech workers.

Around the Nation
3:11 am
Mon May 6, 2013

'Bertha' Does The Heavy Lifting In Seattle Tunnel Project

Originally published on Mon May 6, 2013 3:28 am

The world's largest tunnel boring machine in a few months will begin digging a new double-decker highway tunnel under downtown Seattle. If all goes according to plan, Bertha will start digging this summer. It'll emerge again late next year on the other side of downtown, not far from the Space Needle.

All Tech Considered
1:19 am
Tue April 30, 2013

Will Bureaucracy Keep The U.S. Drone Industry Grounded?

Paul Applewhite of Applewhite Aero isn't allowed to fly this 3-pound Styrofoam plane. That's because he has added circuitry to make it autonomous — it can find its way to specified coordinates — which means it's an unmanned aerial vehicle requiring a special testing permit.
Martin Kaste NPR

Originally published on Mon May 6, 2013 1:27 pm

Americans are suspicious of drones. Reports of the unmanned aerial vehicles' use in war zones have raised concerns about what they might do here at home. For instance, in Seattle earlier this year, a public outcry forced the police department to abandon plans for eye-in-the-sky UAV helicopters.

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Business
3:17 am
Fri April 26, 2013

Senate Moves To Update Federal Online Privacy Laws

Originally published on Fri April 26, 2013 4:59 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Yesterday, the Senate took a step toward updating the federal online privacy law. It's a law that dates back to a time when most people had never heard of the Internet.

NPR's Martin Kaste reports.

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All Tech Considered
3:40 pm
Wed April 3, 2013

Who's Hiring H1-B Visa Workers? It's Not Who You Might Think

There's been increasing support for the number of H-1B visas, for highly skilled workers. Large tech companies are leading the push for the increase, but many of the visas go to workers at large consulting firms.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu April 4, 2013 10:22 am

The tech industry wants more skilled workers — from overseas. Companies are lobbying hard for Congress to raise the limit on H-1B visas — visas for people with specialized skills — researchers, for instance, or software engineers.

Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel, recently told NPR that more H-1B visas can't help but be good for the country.

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Technology
3:33 pm
Thu March 28, 2013

Cyberattack Against Spam-Fighting Organization One Of The Largest Ever

Originally published on Thu March 28, 2013 4:38 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Police in Europe are investigating a large-scale cyberattack. Some are even calling it the largest of its kind. As NPR's Martin Kaste reports, the attack's target is an organization called Spamhaus, but the effects have spilled out into the broader Internet.

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All Tech Considered
3:44 pm
Wed March 20, 2013

Yes, Your New Car Has A 'Black Box.' Where's The Off Switch?

Detective Dave Wells plugs his laptop into a car's event data recorder. A large portion of new cars are equipped with the device, and the government is considering making them mandatory in all vehicles. But some say there should be an "off" option.
Martin Kaste NPR

Originally published on Wed March 20, 2013 4:43 pm

If you're a vehicle owner and happen to have a car accident in the near future (we hope you don't), it's likely the crash details will be recorded. Automotive "black boxes" are now built into more than 90 percent of new cars, and the government is considering making them mandatory.

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Business
2:06 am
Mon March 18, 2013

Court To Sentence AT&T Hacker Andrew Auernheimer

Originally published on Mon March 18, 2013 10:38 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with a hacking sentence.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MONTAGNE: This morning, a federal court in New Jersey is scheduled to sentence Andrew for his much-publicized exposure of a security flaw on AT&T's iPad service. That was back in 2010.

As NPR's Martin Kaste reports, the sentencing of Andrew Auernheimer will be closely watched by those who believe federal prosecutors have become overly zealous about punishing certain kinds of hackers.

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U.S.
2:30 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Even Where It's Legal, Pot Producers Weigh The Business Risks

Medical marijuana on display at the grand opening of the Northwest Cannabis Market's Seattle location in February. While recreational pot use is now legal in Washington, the state has not yet issued rules governing the industry.
Elaine Thompson AP

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 9:49 am

Attorney General Eric Holder appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday to answer questions on everything from gun control to the Department of Justice's failure to prosecute Wall Street. But he was also asked about an issue proponents of marijuana legalization have been following closely: what the DOJ plans to do about Colorado and Washington state, which have defied federal law by legalizing recreational use of the drug.

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U.S.
4:06 pm
Fri February 22, 2013

As Police Drones Take Off, Washington State Pushes Back

Originally published on Fri February 22, 2013 5:28 pm

Last year, Seattle became one of the nation's first cities to buy unmanned drones for use by the police department. Public reaction was less "Gee-whiz" than "What the heck?"

The phrase "unmanned drones" typically conjures images of places like Afghanistan. But the Federal Aviation Administration says it wants to start testing the civilian use of aerial drones here in the U.S. and has already issued special permits to a few police departments interested in trying them out.

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