Martin Kaste | KUER 90.1

Martin Kaste

Martin Kaste is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk. He covers law enforcement and privacy. He has been focused on police and use of force since before the 2014 protests in Ferguson, and that coverage led to the creation of NPR's Criminal Justice Collaborative.

In addition to criminal justice reporting, 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.

Investigations into the causes of the two Boeing 737 Max crashes, in Indonesia and Ethiopia, have focused on software — and the possibility that it was autonomously pointing the planes' noses downward, acting without the pilots' consent.

It's a nightmare scenario. It's also a reminder that software is everywhere, sometimes doing things we don't expect.

This sank in for a lot of people four years ago, during the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. It turned out that software inside the cars had been quietly running the engines in such a way as to cheat on emissions tests.

The Democratic-led House Thursday approved another piece of legislation to broaden federal gun-control legislation. The bill gives the FBI more time to do background checks on gun purchasers. It comes a day after the chamber passed a bill extending the checks to private firearms sales.

Both measures face long odds at becoming law.

The latest bill would extend the time sellers have to wait before completing a gun sale. Like Wednesday's measure, it passed largely along party lines — 228 to 198.

Last fall, voters in Washington state approved a package of firearms restrictions, generally called I-1639. It raises the minimum age for buying semi-automatic rifles, tightens background checks and makes it a crime to fail to store a gun safely, if the gun ends up in the wrong hands.

The restrictions have raised the ire of some county sheriffs.

Wolves are making a big comeback in Germany, which is making some Germans uneasy.

Farmers and hunters drove the species out of the country over 150 years ago, but conditions for wolves became more welcoming in 1990, after Germany's reunification extended European endangered species protections to the eastern part of the country.

America's Growing Cop Shortage

Dec 12, 2018

It's a fall Monday morning in New Haven, Conn., and Officer Christian Bruckhart has lost track of how many calls he has had. He thinks it has been six. Maybe seven.

A year ago, Facebook started using artificial intelligence to scan people's accounts for danger signs of imminent self-harm.

Facebook Global Head of Safety Antigone Davis is pleased with the results so far.

"In the very first month when we started it, we had about 100 imminent-response cases," which resulted in Facebook contacting local emergency responders to check on someone. But that rate quickly increased.

Experienced gun hobbyists recognized the sound right away.

"I knew for a fact it was a bump stock as soon as I heard the video," says Jeff LaCroix. He's a recreational shooter in Louisiana. He says the rapid, uneven sound of the gunfire at the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas last Oct. 1 made it clear to him a bump stock was involved.

Berlin's Tempelhof Field used to be a massive airport. It's famous as the site of the Berlin airlift — the effort in 1948-49 to keep West Berlin fed and supplied during a Soviet blockade. But the airport closed in 2008.

Now, 10 years later, Tempelhof Field is a huge park, and a home for refugees.

Here are some scenes, and sounds, from a recent visit.

Three years after German Chancellor Angela Merkel opened the country's borders to hundreds of thousands of migrants, the public mood toward those new arrivals has soured. In more conservative parts of the country, such as Bavaria, government officials are promising to be more "efficient" about processing migrants' asylum claims — and to deport those found not to qualify.

Unlike in the U.S., asylum claims in Germany are handled by state-level authorities — and when someone is ordered deported, enforcement usually falls to local police.

Police have always relied on data — whether push pins tracking crimes on a map, mug shot cards, or intelligence files on repeat offenders. The problem with all that information is that it has traditionally been slow and hard to use.

In the wake of the Parkland high school massacre, there's been renewed interest in "red flag" laws, which allow courts and police to temporarily remove guns from people perceived to pose a threat.

The new research offers insight into the laws' effect — and it may not be what you think.

"Although these laws tended to be enacted after mass shooting events, in practice, they tend to be enforced primarily for suicide prevention," says Aaron Kivisto, a clinical psychologist with the University of Indianapolis who studies gun violence prevention.

On a big-sky plateau on the eastern slope of the Cascades, a 10-acre parcel of land has been trashed by illicit pot farmers. Abandoned equipment rusts and jugs of chemicals molder.

Marijuana legalization wasn't supposed to look like this.

Five years into its experiment with legal, regulated cannabis, Washington state is finding that pot still attracts criminals.

You've seen it in the movies for years: Security cameras find a face in a crowd, and — Enhance! — a computer comes up with a name. In real life, facial recognition was too error-prone to work that quickly, especially with live video streams.

But now the Hollywood fantasy is coming true.

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The dramatic videos of the shooting of Stephon Clark in Sacramento last month have rekindled anger over police shootings of unarmed people, often African-Americans. Many see the Sacramento shooting as a sign that little has changed in the way American police use deadly force, despite years of protests and media attention since the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., in 2014.

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Lately, the NRA has relied heavily on videos to communicate with the public and its supporters, and video is how it announced its position on legislation to temporarily remove guns from people thought to pose a threat.

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Investigators are blaming human error for the panic-inducing false missile alert in Hawaii last month. They say it was sent out by a state emergency management worker who mistook an exercise for a real attack.

At the same time, the incident has exposed what may be a more widespread problem: disagreement over whose job it should be to warn the public about missile attacks.

"Why did he even have a gun?" — it's a common refrain in America, often after mass shootings by people who legally aren't supposed to have firearms.

One of the worst recent examples was the massacre in a Sutherland Springs, Texas, church last November, in which 26 people were killed by a man whose domestic violence conviction should have barred him from buying guns.

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The jitters over North Korea's missile tests have led Hawaii to bring back air raid sirens. The state already has sirens in place in case of tsunami, but starting this month the state will once again test the "wailing tone" meant specifically to warn of attack.

Any American who pays attention to law enforcement has heard of the strategies: "broken windows," "stop and frisk," "zero tolerance." These are all variations on what's broadly known as "proactive policing": efforts to seek out and prevent the causes of crime before it happens, as opposed to a more reactive policy of just sending police when called.

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A controversial alt-right political rally planned for San Francisco on Saturday afternoon has been canceled. Organizers announced the decision Friday afternoon, saying hostility from local politicians and leftist activists made the situation too dangerous. But concerns about protests on both sides linger, so the police remain on alert.

It's rare for a law enforcement officer to be convicted of homicide for shooting someone while on duty. According to a new NPR data analysis, 2,400 people have been killed this way in the last two and a half years; the vast majority of those cases were found to be justified, but NPR found 20 officers who faced charges. Of those, six have been convicted or pleaded guilty.

On Monday, Seattle officials released dash cam audio of a Sunday morning police shooting that left Charleena Lyles, a pregnant mother of three, dead. The two Seattle police officers had been called to Lyles' apartment so she could report a burglary.

The shooting is under investigation by the Seattle Police Department's Force Investigation Team, and also SPD's Office of Professional Accountability, but here's what we know now:

Reality Winner, the government contractor accused of leaking a secret NSA report to the media, plans to enter a plea of not guilty, her lawyer Titus Nichols tells NPR.

She hopes to be released on bond Thursday.

Winner, 25, works for a private contractor, Pluribus International Corp., in Augusta, Ga., and is an Air Force veteran who speaks three languages. She was arrested Saturday.

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