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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The Salt
6:13 pm
Fri April 18, 2014

In The Land Of Razor Clams, Dinner Hides Deep Within The Sand

Clams this fresh taste like tender calamari.
Martin Kaste/NPR

Originally published on Fri April 18, 2014 7:13 pm

As soon as you drive into town, it's pretty clear that Long Beach, Wash., is all about the razor clam. The first clue is the giant frying pan. It's 14 feet tall and a relic of the clam festivals of the 1940s. And then there's the clam statue that spits when you insert a quarter.

But if you really want to see how much people here love their clams, you'd have to be like Karen Harrell and get up before dawn and drive out onto the blustery beach to go clam digging.

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All Tech Considered
11:50 am
Tue April 15, 2014

Apple Upgrade Tracks Customers Even When Marketing Apps Are Off

iPhone geotracking gets better. Or is it worse?
Patrick Kovarik AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed April 16, 2014 10:50 am

The people who design marketing apps are celebrating a change in the way iBeacon works on iPhones. That's the Bluetooth-based system that lets a store track a customer's movements, and capitalize on them. For instance, if iBeacon detects you lingering in the shoe department, it might send you a digital coupon for socks.

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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 2, 2014 9:54 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
4:37 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

Washington Landslide Takes A Grim — And Fluctuating — Toll

Originally published on Mon March 31, 2014 6:52 pm

The official death toll from the Washington State mudslide now stands at 24, with dozens of people still listed as missing. At one point, there were more than 170 unaccounted for.

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

Your Smartphone Is A Crucial Police Tool, If They Can Crack It

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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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News
4:16 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
5:43 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
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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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.
5:32 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
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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Number Of The Year
6:06 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
5:05 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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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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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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