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National Solar Observatory in New Mexico. Photo: Education Images/UIG via Getty Images

A cloud of suspicion has set in around a New Mexico observatory that was emptied of personnel suddenly last week for unknown reasons, and continues to remain empty, the Washington Post reports.

The details: Per the Post, the entrance to the National Solar Observatory has been "blocked by yellow crime scene tape," and security officers tasked with guarding the entrance said even they didn't know what had happened. A spokeswoman for the nonprofit that runs the observatory has said it "definitely wasn't aliens," per the Post, but speculation still remains.

What happened: On the morning of September 6th, the facility vacated citing a "security" issue, the Post reports.

  • The Otero County Sheriff Benny House said the observatory requested assistance in evacuating the building, but the deputies "saw no evidence of a threat...and left after a few hours."
  • House told the Post: "We tried to find out the threat and what their concerns were. They wouldn't identify anything. They were pretty hush mouthed about it."

New Mexico Rep. Stevan Pearce's office contacted the FBI and "was told there was an 'ongoing investigation." Spokeswoman Kinsey Featherston told the Post they "have no information."

Go deeper

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
4 hours ago - Health

Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden has picked former FDA chief David Kessler to lead Operation Warp Speed, a day after unveiling a nearly $2 trillion pandemic relief plan that includes $400 billion for directly combatting the virus.

Why it matters: Biden's transition team said Kessler has been advising the president-elect since the beginning of the pandemic, and hopes his involvement will help accelerate vaccination, the New York Times reports. Operation Warp Speed's current director, Moncef Slaoui, will stay on as a consultant.

The case of the missing relief money

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A chunk of stimulus payments is missing in action, thanks to a mix up that put as many as 13 million checks into invalid bank accounts.

Why it matters: The IRS (by law) was supposed to get all payments out by Friday. Now the onus could shift to Americans to claim the money on their tax refund — further delaying relief to struggling, lower-income Americans.

The post-Trump GOP, gutted

McConnell (L), McCarthy (R) and Trump. Photo: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Republicans will emerge from the Trump era gutted financially, institutionally and structurally.

The big picture: The losses are stark and substantial.