shady business
May 1, 2019

An investigation by NASA has uncovered that one of its former metals manufacturers, Sapa Profiles, falsified test results and provided it with faulty aluminum parts for almost 20 years.

Sapa Profiles faked the certifications for its parts from 1996 to 2015, Bloomberg reported Wednesday, for "hundreds of customers" including NASA.

The space agency wasn't the only client that lost out from this fraudulent activity, but it could be the one that was most damaged by it: NASA used Sapa's parts in the making of Taurus XL, a rocket that was used in two missions in 2009 and 2011. Both missions failed, causing NASA to lose somewhere around $700 million, Engadget explained.

The company, now called Hydro Extrusion Portland, Inc., has since ended its contract with NASA. Now, it's prevented from ever entering into a contract with the U.S. government again, in addition to fines of $46 million paid to NASA, the Department of Defense, and others.

NASA's director of Launch Services, Jim Norman, explained that falsified tests can result in not only property damage and wasted time, money, and resources, but also, in this case, "severely violated" their trust in their suppliers. "NASA relies on the integrity of our industry throughout the supply chain," he said. Read more at Bloomberg. Shivani Ishwar

April 5, 2019

For the second time in just a few months, Motel 6 is settling a lawsuit after giving private guest information to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The hotel chain agreed to pay $12 million in a lawsuit filed by the state of Washington, NPR reports. Washington's attorney general Bob Ferguson said Motel 6 shared information of about 80,000 guests with ICE between 2015 and 2017, per NPR.

The information led to investigations targeting guests with Latino-sounding names in the Puget Sound region, and many ended up facing questioning from ICE, reports NPR.

"According to our interviews with employees at Motel 6, ICE agents would circle the names that looked Latino-sounding and ran those names through a database and then would detain individuals based on those random checks," Ferguson told NPR.

Reporters at The Phoenix New Times first uncovered the practice in Sept. 2017, discovering that ICE agents had made numerous arrests at Motel 6's in predominantly Latino neighborhoods in Arizona. Motel 6 agreed to pay $7.6 million in damages in November of 2018 and said the practice would be discontinued at that time, per NPR. Marianne Dodson

March 19, 2019

The Office of Refugee Resettlement is reportedly holding several unaccompanied minors in off-the-book shelters throughout the United States, an investigation by Reveal found.

The total number of sites is unknown, but Reveal reports that there are at least five such shelters in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. They are holding at least 16 boys and girls after they were transferred from known refugee shelters. The shelters reportedly specialize in caring for children with mental health and behavior challenges.

The federal government has not made the existence of the shelters public "or even disclosed them to the minors' own attorneys in a landmark class action case," writes Reveal.

Holly Cooper, an attorney who represents the class of unaccompanied minors in the agency's care, said the government did not report every minor's location and believes the ORR continues to withhold information about other locations.

The ORR's standards do allow for out-of-network transfers if the federal facilities cannot provide specialized services. But failing to provide both attorneys for the detained children and a detailed census of the minors in custody appears to violate "longstanding rules for the care of immigrant children," such as the Flores Agreement. Former ORR Director Robert Carey said there was no such arrangement for migrant children in 2015 and 2016, as far as he knew.

The ORR has not yet commented on Reveal's report, though the office did acknowledge the request. Read the full report at Reveal. Tim O'Donnell

See More Speed Reads