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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6:33am

Tue October 22, 2013
Around the Nation

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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6:39pm

Wed October 16, 2013
The Salt

So What Happens If The Movement To Label GMOs Succeeds?

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

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

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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7:06am

Thu September 19, 2013
National Security

ACLU Posts Fed-Collected 'Suspicious' Activity Reports Online

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

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

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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4:35pm

Wed September 18, 2013
Mental Health

After Attacks, Seattle Rethinks How To Treat Mentally Ill

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

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

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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4:54am

Thu September 5, 2013
Business

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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5:25am

Thu August 8, 2013
Law

Defense Lawyers Want Out Of Fort Hood Shooting Trial

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

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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4:01pm

Wed July 31, 2013
All Tech Considered

The Online Underworld's Elaborate Prank To Ship Heroin

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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5:20pm

Fri July 26, 2013
Around the Nation

Can Software That Predicts Crime Pass Constitutional Muster?

Originally published on Mon July 29, 2013 12:01 pm

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

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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11:00am

Wed July 17, 2013
All Tech Considered

Police May Know Exactly Where You Were Last Tuesday

Originally published on Wed July 17, 2013 11:06 am

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

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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3:02am

Mon July 15, 2013
Around the Nation

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

Originally published on Fri July 19, 2013 11:40 am

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

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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