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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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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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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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.

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.

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."

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.

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.

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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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.

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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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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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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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.

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:

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.

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.

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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.

The Attorney General in the state of Washington is suing a small florist for refusing to provide flowers for a gay wedding.

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.

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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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.

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.

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.

Two days ago, Morning Edition aired a story about the H-1B program which grants temporary work visas to foreigners with special skills like computer programming. In the story, it was reported that employers have to show they tried to recruit Americans first. But as it turns out, many companies bypass American applicants.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Now, a look at one part of the immigration debate in Congress: a proposed increase in H1-B visas. Those are the visas that allow companies to hire skilled foreign workers. As NPR's Martin Kaste reports in today's "Business Bottom Line," offering more of those visas is controversial, especially among American tech workers of a certain age.

MARTIN KASTE, BYLINE: Here in Seattle, people still have fond memories of the 1990s tech boom.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Do you want a cup of coffee?

President Obama's choice to take over at the Department of the Interior comes from the business world. Sally Jewell is the CEO of outdoor equipment supplier REI.

"For Sally, the toughest part of this job will probably be sitting behind a desk," the president said when introducing his nominee Wednesday. "I suspect she'll want to get out of the office quite a bit."

Before Jewell took the reins at REI, she worked in the financial industry at Washington Mutual. Before that, she was an engineer in the oil business, with Mobil.

As the nation ponders how to stop the next mass shooting, the gun rights movement offers a straight-forward formula, laid out famously by NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre.

"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," LaPierre said last month, as his group responded to the elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn.

One Man's Story

In Washington state, one such "good guy" — a private citizen who drew his gun in defense of others — paid a heavy price.

Google wants you to know you're being watched. Or rather, the company wants you to know how and when the police get to watch what you do online.

For the first time, the company has posted its policies for when it gives up users' information to the government. It's part of a broader company strategy to push for tougher privacy laws.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

In Washington State, parents and drug counselors are in a quandary. Now that recreational marijuana is legal, they're wondering how to talk to kids about pot.

NPR's Martin Kaste has that story from Seattle.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Ten, nine, eight, seven...

CROWD: Nine, eight, seven...

MARTIN KASTE, BYLINE: Under the Space Needle, marijuana enthusiasts counted down to the moment of legalization.

CROWD: Two, one...

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

Hawaii Democrat Daniel Inouye, the Senate's senior member, died at a Bethesda, Md., hospital Monday. He was 88 years old and was suffering from a respiratory ailment. The Japanese-American was known for his heroism in World War II and for breaking racial barriers.

Born to Japanese immigrants in Hawaii in 1924, the young Inouye dreamed of becoming a surgeon, but world events intervened as he was listening to the radio on Sunday morning, Dec. 7, 1941.

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