Martin Kaste | KUNC

Martin Kaste

NPR's Martin Kaste covers the Pacific Northwest, Alaska and western Canada, and occasionally roams farther afield. Kaste's reports and features can be heard on all of NPR's news programs and newscasts.

Politics is a big part of Kaste's beat, and he's followed the career of Alaska's Sarah Palin since well before the day she was picked as John McCain's running mate.

He also specializes in privacy issues, focusing on the government's wireless wiretapping practices, and the data-collection and analysis that goes on behind the scenes in social media and other new media.

Before moving to the West Coast, Kaste spent five years as NPR's South America reporter. 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. All told, Kaste covered the overthrow of five presidents in five years.

Kaste joined NPR fulltime in February 2000, after working in St. Paul as a political reporter for Minnesota Public Radio, which he joined in 1993. He's a graduate of Carleton College.

As COVID-19 spreads, public health officials are telling people to stay home if they feel sick. But in jails and prisons, that's not an option.

Robert Greifinger is a physician who spent 25 years working on health care issues inside the nation's prisons and jails, and he says the "social distancing" advice we're all hearing right now isn't so simple behind bars.

"There are crowding issues, ventilation issues, security issues where people have to be checked and monitored fairly frequently," Greifinger says. "So it's really hard to do."

Over the last generation, gun rights have expanded in America, especially the right to carry firearms, both concealed and in the open. The big exception to this expanding gun culture has been New York City.

Scammers are always looking for more effective words. Most Americans have learned to be on their guard, and they're likely to suspect an overly aggressive phishing phone call from a fake credit card customer service agent speaking accented English.

The secret to comedy, according to the old joke, is timing. The same is true of cybercrime.

Mark learned this the hard way in 2017. He runs a real estate company in Seattle and asked us not to include his last name because of the possible repercussions for his business.

"The idea that someone was effectively able to dupe you ... is embarrassing," he says. "We're still kind of scratching our head over how it happened."

An annual survey that asks Americans about crimes they've experienced showed that the rate at which those surveyed said they had been raped or sexually assaulted nearly doubled from 2017 to 2018.

The 2018 National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), released Tuesday, is managed by the Bureau of Justice Statistics at the U.S. Justice Department, and asks people if they've been victims of crimes — even if they didn't report them to police.

Whale watching is generally regarded as innocent fun. Unlike an aquarium park, whale watching boats take you to see majestic animals that remain free in their natural habitat.

But when it comes to marine mammals that are already struggling to survive, are the boat-based watching tours really harmless?

More guns are being stolen out of cars in America, particularly in states that have made it easier for people to carry firearms on the road.

There are no reliable national numbers, but an NPR survey of a sampling of police departments reveals steady increases in reports of guns stolen from vehicles.

In Atlanta, the number rose to 1,021 in 2018 from 439 in 2009.

In St. Louis, it increased to 597 from 200 in the same period.

Tyson Timbs won his Supreme Court case in February, but he still doesn't have his Land Rover.

"I want my truck back. I've always wanted it back," says Timbs, whose Land Rover was seized by police in Indiana. They took it after he was arrested for selling a small amount of heroin to undercover cops. He served a period of house arrest and probation for the drug crime — punishments he accepted.

But Timbs never accepted that police were entitled to his $42,000 vehicle, which he'd bought with proceeds from an insurance settlement.

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.

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