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The Battle of Midway was being fought 77 years ago today

Brandon Moseley

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From June 4 to June 7, 1942, one of the largest and most decisive naval battles of World War II was fought in the skies and waters over and surrounding Midway Island.

Japan had attacked the United State Navy at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. For almost seven months the Japanese Empire had won victory after victory massively expanding their empire across much of the Pacific as well as deep into Asia. French Indochina (Vietnam), Singapore, New Guinea, the Philippines, the Dutch East Indies, Hong Kong, Burma, Guam, Samoa, etc. had all fallen to the Japanese. They were even threatening Australia, India and Sri Lanka.

Japan’s main goals were to end the threat of an anticipated United States counter offensive and ending American support to China and Australia by ending the U.S. Navy’s presence in the central Pacific. The Japanese and U.S. aircraft carrier fleets had just fought the Battle of Coral Sea, which was costly to both sides, but which had left the allied sea lanes open to Australia temporarily checking Japan’s ambitions in the South Pacific.

Japanese master strategist Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto devised a cunning plan where he would send a powerful fleet to attack the Aleutian Islands to draw the American carriers north in defense of Alaska. Meanwhile his vaunted carrier task force would strike at Midway in the Hawaiian Islands. The U.S. carrier fleet would have to go from fighting one battle in the North Pacific and turn around and fight a much larger naval force that was between them and their home port of Pearl Harbor. After his carriers had eliminated the threat of the U.S. Navy’s pilots, Yamamoto himself would arrive leading a third even larger fleet, that featured the most powerful battleship task force in the world at the time to do away with the remaining surface ships of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, while landing Japanese ground forces on Midway. The Japanese would then contest for control of the Hawaiian Islands and attacking Pearl Harbor. Loss of air superiority over Pearl Harbor and naval superiority in the Hawaiian Islands would then force the U.S. navy to forward deploy from San Diego and San Francisco.

It was a brilliant plan, but it relied on surprise rather than brute force, which Yamamoto could have had if he combined his three fleets into one powerful super force. Unfortunately for Yamamoto, U.S. Naval Intelligence had cracked the Japanese codes, thus U.S. Admiral Chester Nimitz knew that the attack on the Aleutians was just a ruse to make him order his carriers north away from Hawaii.

During the Battle of Coral Sea the Japanese light carrier Shoho had been sunk. The carrier Shokaku had been severely damaged and was in drydock for months of repairs. The carrier Zuikaku was undamaged, but half of her air group had been lost and she was in port waiting for replacement planes and pilots so was unable to participate in the Midway mission. The American aircraft carrier U.S.S. Lexington (CV-2) had been lost and the Yorktown (CV-5) had been damaged in the battle. Japanese naval intelligence had listed the Yorktown as destroyed or inoperable.

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Knowing battle was imminent, Nimitz had summoned Yorktown and her task force under Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher back to Pearl Harbor from the South Pacific and dock workers hastily repaired the damaged aircraft carrier. Efforts to finish repairs and resupply Saratoga (CV-3) and a shortage of escort ships meant that the fourth American carrier would arrive from California too late to participate in the battle. Admiral Raymond Spruance was given command of the larger U.S. task force, Enterprise (CV-6) and Hornet (CV-8) because Vice Admiral William Halsey was sick.

While the Japanese were landing ground troops on Attu and Kiska in the Aleutians (the first time the U.S. had lost North American soil since the War of 1812), Nimitz instead ordered the aircraft carriers Hornet, Enterprise, and Yorktown to a position where they could defend Midway, the Japanese main target.

On June 3, 1942 a U.S. Navy PBY Catalina floatplane found the Japanese carrier fleet alerting U.S. forces that the attack was underway. On June 4, the Japanese carriers Akagi, Kaga, Soryu, and Hiryu launched a massive aerial bombardment with 108 aircraft on the U.S. base at Midway. 25 of those planes were lost or severely damaged in the attack.

The Japanese had no idea that the three U.S. carriers were just to the east of the island and ready for battle. The Japanese aircraft did a lot of damage to Midway and destroyed the American fighters defending Midway; but the airfield remained intact so the airbase was still a threat from U.S. bombers. The Japanese air crews headed back to their carriers to rearm and refuel for another bombardment of the little island base to take out the airfield. 52 American aircraft launched from Midway, including B26s and B17s, launched from the airbase before the Japanese attack attacked the Japanese fleet. 17 of these aircraft were lost in the attacks. They cost the Japanese just three fighters. One B26 narrowly missed hitting the Japanese flagship, the carrier Akagi, in a suicide attack.

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Still not realizing that the main threat was from the American aircraft carriers, not the U.S. Army Air Corps, U.S. Navy, and Marine planes based on the island; Admiral Chuichi Nagumo, who commanded the carrier task force, made the error of deviating from Yamamoto’s orders as well as standard Japanese operating practices and ordered all of his reserve bombers, which had been armed with torpedoes and bombs especially for naval combat to instead rearm with bombs to attack the island.

45 minutes later a Japanese scout plan reported seeing a sizable American fleet to the east of the island. Nagumo then ordered his crews to rearm the planes they had just rearmed with bombs for land assault to instead be rearmed again with naval bombs and torpedoes again. Another 30 minutes passed before the scout plane reported seeing one American aircraft carrier. Now the planes from the morning attack on Midway were returning low on fuel. If Nagumo launched his attack, those planes and pilots would have run out of fuel while the flight decks were used to launch. Nagumo ordered the decks used for the returning planes and pilots.

By this time the combined air arms of three American aircraft carriers were already in the air bound for the Japanese fleet. The American attack was not well coordinated. Hornet’s flight group went off in the wrong heading so never made contact with the Japanese fleet. Lt Commander John Waldrop broke away from Hornet’s main group and led his torpedo bomber squadron on the correct heading. The Douglas TBD Devastator torpedo bombers of VT-8 attacked the Japanese fleet and all 15 were shot down. Ensign George Gay who was later rescued at sea was the only survivor of VT-8. Devastators from Enterprise’s VF-6 attacked next with no success and a loss of 10 of 14 planes. This was followed by Devastators from Yorktown’s VT-3 which lost 10 of 12 planes (the painfully obsolescent Devastators were never used in combat again after Midway). No Japanese ships had been sunk even though some torpedoes came very close and they had forced the Japanese ships to take evasive maneuvers. The Japanese Mitsubishi A6M Zeroes protecting the Japanese carriers were following the attack runs of the unprotected slow old torpedo bombers down to just off the surface of the ocean and had used lots of ammunition.

At that moment, three squadron of Americans Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bombers arrived: VB-3 from Yorktown and VS-6 and VB-6 from Enterprise. Enterprise’s nearly two full squadrons attacked Kaga almost simultaneously. She received four or five direct hits which caused numerous explosions of the bombs that were stacked in the hangar. Lieutenant Richard Halsey Best and his two wingmen attacked the Akagi. She was hit only once, but the bomb hit midship igniting a tremendous explosion of the fuel and stacked bombs in the hangars. Yorktown’s VB-3 attacked Soryu. Despite the valiant efforts of VT-3, Hiryu was not hit. Massive fires were soon raging on Soryu, Kaga, and Akagi.

Rear Admiral Tamon Yamaguchi on the Hiryu took operational command of the Japanese force, while Nagumo was being evacuated from the burning Akagi. He responded by launching 18 Aichi D3A dive bombers and six Mitsubishi A6M “Zero” fighters to follow the American attack force that was returning home critically low on fuel. The Japanese found the Yorktown and attacked. Yorktown was hit by three bombs. The Japanese lost 16 aircraft in this attack. The returning Japanese pilots reported having sunk an American aircraft carrier.

The Yorktown’s crew, working feverishly, covered the holes on the flight deck to get the flight deck operational again and got the boilers working again in under an hour. The Japanese collected all their remaining Japanese aircraft on Hiryu and launched a second attack wave of ten Nakajima B5N torpedo bombers and six of the A6M Zero fighters. This wave also found Yorktown, but the Americans had done such a good job of repairing the aircraft carrier that the Japanese pilots could not tell it had been damaged. Yorktown was hit by two torpedoes and lost all power. The Japanese lost seven airplanes in this attack. The returning Japanese pilots reported sinking a second American aircraft carrier convincing Yamaguchi that there was only one American aircraft carrier left.

That afternoon a scout plane from Yorktown found the Hiryu. Enterprise sent 24 SBD dive bombers (including aircraft formerly assigned to Yorktown) to intercept. Hiryu was hit four times. Hornet due to a communications mix-up was late to launch. Their planes targeted the remaining Japanese escorts ships; but failed to score any hits. Yamaguchi and the Hiryu’s captain chose to go down with the ship.

The Japanese fleet under Yamamoto continued on towards the American fleet through the night in hopes of surface combat. With the Yorktown out, Fletcher ceded command of his task force to Spruance. Spruance had been moving towards the Japanese forces all day and into the night to give more of his pilots a chance to return before they ran out of fuel. That night he switched directions to avoid encountering the powerful Japanese battleships at night.

On June 5, Spruance launched his planes on a search and destroy mission in hopes of finding the main Japanese fleet; but failed. American planes did attack one Japanese destroyer; but scored not hits.

On the night of June 5, the submarine U.S.S. Tambor reported “four large ships” just 90 miles to the west of Midway. Spruance assumed this was the main Japanese force to invade the island so moved to block the invasion force. In reality this was just four cruisers and two destroyers that Yamamoto had detached to bombard the island and later ordered to turn back. They spotted Tambor following them and took evasive action. In the confusion, the heavy cruisers Mogami and Mikuma collided. The Mogami was heavily damaged. The Tambor attacked, but was unsuccessful. An SBD dive bomber later sunk the Mikuma. The Mogami returned to port for repairs. The commander of the Tambor lost his command for the vagueness of his report and the unsuccessful attack. Two destroyers were also bombed and strafed. as they retreated back towards the main Japanese fleet.

The American sailors continued to work on the badly damaged Yorktown. The minesweeper U.S.S. Vireo was towing the ship in hopes of bringing the stricken aircraft carrier back to Pearl Harbor for repairs and an eventual return to the war. On June 6 the Japanese submarine I-168 fired off a salvo of torpedoes that hit Yorktown and the destroyer U.S.S. Hamann, which was supplying auxiliary power to the aircraft carrier. Hammann broke apart immediately and eighty sailors on the destroyer were killed. The Yorktown sank on June 7.

The Japanese lost approximately 3,057 men, 37 were captured, four carriers, one cruiser, and 248 aircraft, while the United States lost approximately 307 men (including 3 who died in captivity), one carrier, one destroyer, and 144 aircraft. This critical US victory stopped the growth of Japan in the Pacific and turned the tide of the war. put the United States in a position to begin shrinking the Japanese empire through a years-long series of island-hopping invasions and several even larger naval battles.

The 24 newer, faster, mass-produced Essex class of American aircraft carriers, then in production, came on line beginning in December of 1942 giving the U.S. naval and air superiority in both theatres of the war. The second ship in that class, CV-10 originally the Bon Homme Richard, was renamed the Yorktown after CV-5 was lost. She served from 1943 until 1970 and has been a museum ship in Charleston, South Carolina since 1975.

(Wikipedia and the World War II museum website were consulted in the writing of this article).

Brandon Moseley is a senior reporter with eight and a half years at Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Facebook. Brandon is a native of Moody, Alabama, a graduate of Auburn University, and a seventh generation Alabamian.

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Bill Britt

Opinion | Thinking: I’ll know it when I see it

“Have we accumulated so much knowledge that we know nothing?”

Bill Britt

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Lately, I’ve been adhering to the old adage, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” So, what have I been doing with all my free time? Thinking — or at least I think I’m thinking.

When I look over the political landscape here at home and across the nation, I see a great surge of self-interest, special-interest and “us versus them” loathing, but little in the way of what constitutes the common good.

Politics lately have more in common with the campfire scene in Blazing Saddles than a renaissance weekend in Charleston. All hot air and bluster and little fact or reasoning.

American politics have always been loud, factious, full of complexities and uncertainty, but these elements have generally led us to find consensus. Sometimes, it’s an uneasy truce but one that on the whole leaves us better and not irreconcilably divided.

However, today, tribal hatred in the form of political parties, a desire for one side to dominate the other and the widespread acceptance of “alternative facts” has reduced public policy to the equivalent of a high-stakes fight over which color M&M tastes best.

French-born philosopher, mathematician and scientist René Descartes wrote, “I think, therefore I am” as proof of his existence. Written originally in French and then Latin, it reads cogito ergo sum because I guess smart people in Descartes’ day wrote scholarly works in Latin.

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Today we use memes, YouTube videos and trucker hats to convey our deeply held convictions.

I’ve been thinking about another Latin phrase I’d like to see added to the lexicon of debate: non cogito ergo non sum. Roughly translated: “I don’t think; therefore, I am not.”

Of course, we know that there are a lot of unthinking people — many we call voters.

A trip to a big box store or any retail outlet with the word “dollar” in its name proves that the average citizen shouldn’t be trusted with making big decisions, like who will run the country. But the alternative is worse, so we let everyone have a say on Election Day.

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But because The People’s Republic of Walmart is a key voting block, the Constitution and individual states’ laws are there to check devotee’s lack of discernment. This is not to say that elites exercise greater intellect. Cable pundits and influential internet bloggers tell us that the nation faces multiple existential threats, not the least from people who use the word existential.

Merriam-Webster defines existential as “relating to, or affirming existence.” I defer back to big-box shoppers ergo ego emo: “I shop, therefore I am.”

Thinking is hard work and not for the faint of heart because reflection can reveal unpleasant truths or even cause us to realize that what we thought was true wasn’t.

In the early 1990s, a New York media mogul asked me what I thought the Internet might become in the future. I told him if we were lucky, every human-being would have access to a range of information to rival the Great Library of Alexandria. It could also, I said, be an enabling tool for global democracy. But then, I added, it would most likely be just a place for people to watch kittens and porn.

I used to think that moral wisdom and national interests depended on logical, coherent and precisely written words penned by studied minds. I believed this because The Ten Commandments carved in stone gave rise to a set of moral principles that shaped in part the ancient world and western civilization.

Our Nation’s Declaration of Independence, written with quill and ink, led to a new democratic republic in the United States and a model for the world over. Now the world’s most enduring democracy is often directed by tweets.

Have we accumulated so much knowledge that we know nothing?

Instead of inspired reason, will 220 characters do? Does writing in all caps make the thought better, or does the author think that readers are just too simple to understand their meaning without added emphasis?

Perhaps here, more Latin is needed. Cogito ergo non tweet. You guessed it: “I think, therefore, I don’t tweet.”

But nowhere is there less thinking than among those who know they are right because they are the chosen ones privy to all things conspiratorial.

In her book, Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism, Anne Applebaum writes: “The emotional appeal of a conspiracy theory is in its simplicity. It explains away complex phenomena, accounts for chance and accidents, offers the believer the satisfying sense of having special, privileged access to the truth.”

Having spent most of my life around powerful women and men, I’ve learned that none are capable of grand schemes as imagined on the internet, and even fewer can keep their mouths shut. If there were a cabal of Catilines, they would not be found on FaceBook or the pages to the John Birch Society’s website.

Politicians will always rage, people will hate, but with a bit of good fortune, our state and nation will endure because a few souls will place the common good above self-interest and factions.

It’s not always easy to tell who is thinking and who is not, but as Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said when referring to hard-core pornography: “I know it when I see it.”

While I still don’t have many nice things to say, and I’m not sure my thinking matters at all, I will admit I have hope, that enduring belief that there is a chance that we can do better, and that we will.

I think.

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Corruption

Opinion | Alabama’s public corruption problem might just be hopeless

“Mike Hubbard committed crimes with the solitary intention of illegally enriching himself.”

Josh Moon

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Mike Hubbard looks toward his family after receiving sentencing on Friday, July 8, 2016, in Opelika, Ala. Todd Van Emst/Opelika-Auburn News/Pool Todd Van Emst/Opelika-Auburn News/Pool

Mike Hubbard stole more than $2 million. Let’s start right there, so we don’t get things twisted, because there’s a tendency in this state, when the criminal is wearing a suit and tie, to believe that the crime wasn’t really a crime and that it was something more complicated and sophisticated than a guy stealing money from you for himself. 

This wasn’t an accident. It wasn’t a wrong place, wrong time deal. He didn’t forget to carry the one and, oops, $2 million landed in his account. 

No. Mike Hubbard committed crimes with the solitary intention of illegally enriching himself. 

Hubbard used his intelligence and charm and ruthlessness to rise to a position of power that allowed him to influence the budget process, and then he used that position and his intelligence to benefit himself at the expense of state businesses, taxpayers and the state itself. 

If Hubbard had his way, one of his clients would have been granted an illegal monopoly, improperly squeezing out other deserving state businesses and possibly costing Alabama citizens their jobs and livelihoods. 

In other instances, Hubbard concocted a means by which wealthy business owners in the state could “gift” their “friend” hundreds of thousands of dollars. Money that we all know would have been returned to the friends many times over in the form of friendly legislation and government contracts — which is the very reason such “gifts” were deemed illegal by a Legislature led by Hubbard. 

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These things were wrong. They were deplorable. And they were, quite blatantly, illegal. 

And yet, for the past four-plus years, this state’s judges and lawmakers — actually, let me be accurate: this state’s Republican judges and Republican lawmakers — have bent over backward to bend, alter and change the laws that convicted Hubbard — the laws that Hubbard helped write — in order to reduce or eliminate the sentence handed down to their friend. 

Finally, last week, the day before Thanksgiving — the day historically set aside for information dumps of embarrassing news you’re hoping will get lost in a four-day holiday weekend — Lee County Judge Jacob Walker, leaning on the suspect legal work of the Alabama Supreme Court — the most activist court in all of America — cut nearly half of Hubbard’s sentence. 

Instead of four years, Hubbard will now serve just 28 months. 

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That is a travesty. 

Not because 28 months instead of four years necessarily sends a message of leniency to future thieves. But because the sordid and embarrassing manner in which the sentence was reduced has been a case study in systemic public corruption and ruling class privilege. 

It has made clear that there is one set of laws and rules for the working stiffs and poor and a whole other set for the wealthy and powerful.  

When the ethics laws of this state were adopted several years ago, Republicans, including Hubbard, hailed them as true game-changers for Alabama politics. They talked loudly and often about how necessary these ethics laws were to remove the stench of corruption and pay-to-play favoritism from our state government. They promised that these laws would help level the playing field and restore the faith of Alabama citizens in their government. 

All of that was BS. 

Within months, the primary architect of those laws was secretly plotting to circumvent them in the interest of personal gain, his private emails showed us. Not only that, he and top ALGOP officials and donors were conspiring together to subvert those laws and enrich themselves. 

What they were doing was not in the interest of “economic development” or business growth in the state or even innocent mistakes. It was willful, purposeful schemes meant to get around the laws and use their public offices to benefit themselves. 

In one email Hubbard actually writes: “those ethics laws … what were we thinking?” 

Despite this clear intent and despite a solid verdict from a thoughtful Lee County jury, for the last four years, Republican lawmakers have attempted time and again to change the ethics laws — to weaken them and insert loopholes into them. They have succeeded twice. 

At the same time, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals and the Alabama Supreme Court — all elected Republicans — spent an unbelievable and unheard-of amount of time to pick apart the Hubbard verdict and cast doubt on the laws that convicted him. 

In both courts, the opinions mentioned the “unintentional consequences” of the laws, implying that lawmakers in the state could unwittingly find themselves as accidental lawbreakers as they innocently conducted the business of the state. 

Oddly, not one lawmaker from either party has committed such a violation or even almost committed one. 

And no one believes that Hubbard committed such an unwitting violation of the laws. 

Because he didn’t. 

Hubbard knew full well what the law was. He knew full well that what he was doing was illegal — his closest associates testified as much in open court. He worked tirelessly to concoct ways to subvert those laws and enrich himself, and there is a mountain of evidence that proves it. 

And yet, our criminal justice system and our state Legislature spent the last four years trying to get him out of it. 

That’s a level of corruption that is so staggering and consuming that I honestly don’t know if there’s any hope to combat it.

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National

Supreme Court rules that churches can meet despite COVID restrictions

Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the three “liberal” justices in opposing the ruling. New Justice Amy Coney Barret was the deciding vote siding with the four conservative justices.

Brandon Moseley

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Supreme Court of the United States building in Washington
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The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-to-4 decision Wednesday that the state of New York’s COVID-19 restrictions violated the freedom of religion rights of New Yorkers.

The court’s decision in Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo just pauses the enforcement of these rules against the litigants who’ve challenged them while the case proceeds, but it still sends a signal that the majority of the court thinks the restrictions are unconstitutional.

The lawsuits filed by the Diocese of Brooklyn and by Orthodox Jewish synagogues in New York will continue. However, the Supreme Court ruling will likely weigh heavily on the ultimate outcome of those cases.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo had passed COVID restrictions that limited church attendance to just 25 people in areas of the state considered to be in the “orange zone” of COVID-19 cases and to just ten people in areas of the state that were in the “red zone.”

The same rules applied to churches that can seat a thousand people and those that seat just one hundred. The size of the building did not matter.

“It is time — past time — to make plain that, while the pandemic poses many grave challenges, there is no world in which the Constitution tolerates color-coded executive edicts that reopen liquor stores and bike shops but shutter churches, synagogues and mosques,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in a concurring opinion.

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“In a red zone, while a synagogue or church may not admit more than 10 persons, businesses categorized as ‘essential’ may admit as many people as they wish,” the court majority wrote. “And the list of ‘essential’ businesses includes things such as acupuncture facilities, campgrounds, garages, as well as many whose services are not limited to those that can be regarded as essential, such as all plants manufacturing chemicals and microelectronics and all transportation facilities.”

“These categorizations lead to troubling results,” the court added. “Not only is there no evidence that the applicants have contributed to the spread of COVID–19 but there are many other less restrictive rules that could be adopted to minimize the risk to those attending religious services. Among other things, the maximum attendance at a religious service could be tied to the size of the church or synagogue.”

The ruling would tend one to believe that the state may limit occupancy of churches and synagogues, but blanket restrictions like those in the New York law that do not take into account the size of the building are clearly unconstitutional, according to the court majority.

“The Court’s ruling is neither surprising nor alarming. Cuomo’s rules discriminate against religious services and thereby run afoul of the Constitution,” the editors of conservative National Review wrote. “And to fix the problem, Cuomo would not need to exempt houses of worship from the law everyone else follows, but merely ensure that churches aren’t relegated to second-class status. One approach may be to classify churches as essential and to assign all essential activities a capacity limit that takes establishment size into account. Another would be to simply let the hard capacity limits go, since houses of worship in orange and red areas are still required to keep to a low proportion of their total capacity (a third and a quarter respectively) — and because the areas at issue in the lawsuit aren’t classified as orange or red anymore anyway.”

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Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote that whenever a policy creates a preferred, less regulated category — “essential” businesses, in this case — states must either include religion in that category or carry the burden of justifying churches’ exclusion.

“The question I always had was why was it okay for all the large box stores to be open, salons, dispensaries, casinos and tattoo parlors, but yet houses of worship were limited to much less capacity than all these places,” Rabi Yossi Mintz wrote in a statement. “I completely agree that we must have guidelines but it needs to be across the board and respect the freedom that our fathers granted us through the establishment of our great country.”

“There is no question that church is essential and maybe that is more true today than any other time,” Pastor Greg Laurie of the Harvest Christian Fellowship Church said in a statement. “Harvest is holding services outside because we want to keep people safe, yet give them an opportunity to worship together…. We practice social distancing and strongly encourage the wearing of masks.”

“I am proud to be leading the Diocese of Brooklyn and fighting for our sacred and constitutional right to worship,” said Diocese of Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio. “Our churches have not been the cause of any outbreaks. We have taken our legal battle this far because we should be considered essential, for what could be more essential than safely gathering in prayer in a time of pandemic.”

Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the three liberal justices in opposing the ruling. New conservative Justice Amy Coney Barret, appointed by President Donald Trump after Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death in September, was the deciding vote, siding with the four other conservative justices.

In an earlier 5-to-4 decision, the court found in favor of a California public health order that prevented churches from operating early in the pandemic. Then Justice Roberts sided with the liberals, but the liberal four has become the liberal three with the death of Ginsburg. Barret replacing Ginsburg appears to have reset the court’s previous position.

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News

Robbers fire at police, race in I-20 car chase with speeds reaching 115 mph

One suspect is in custody. Another fled on foot into the woods in St. Clair County.

Brandon Moseley

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Sunday night police responded to a report of a burglary at a Hueytown business. The suspects fled the scene and led police on a high-speed chase down Interstate 20 through Jefferson and St. Clair counties. The suspects were driving a silver or white Cadillac SUV. They have fired multiple rounds at officers and one officer crashed his police vehicle.

The suspect’s speed reportedly reached 115 mph. Shots were fired at the Hueytown police officer responding to the call. The suspects then sped away. Officers from the Hueytown Police Department, Birmingham Police Department, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department, Pell City Police Department, Riverside Police Department and other agencies all participated in the high-speed pursuit. There are reports of multiple shots fired at officers.

As of press time, one suspect has been captured while another is in a foot pursuit in St. Clair County. The second suspect is still reportedly on the loose and should be considered armed and dangerous.

The crime spree began when Hueytown police were called to the Birmingham Auto Auction off of Allison-Bonnett Memorial Drive on a report of a burglary alarm. The suspect fired at the officers when they tried to block his vehicle there. A suspect shot at officers, wounding one officer.

Another Hueytown police car was reportedly hit by gunfire.

The suspect fled eastbound on I-20/59. Birmingham police responded to the call for aid as the suspect approached their jurisdiction. The suspect(s) also fired gunshots at the Birmingham police officers. An urgent request was put out for all possible officers to help in the pursuit.

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A Birmingham police officer lost control of his vehicle and crashed east of the I-20 and I-459 junction. The officer reports no injuries but is being evaluated at an area hospital. The Birmingham officers lost sight of the suspect’s vehicle at exit 140 in the city limits of Leeds.

Officers caught back up with the suspect, who was traveling at speeds reaching 115 miles per hour, on I-20 in St. Clair County. Officers from the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, Pell City Police Department and Riverside Police Department all took up the pursuit.

St. Clair deputies deployed spike strips on I-20 at mile marker 179. The suspect vehicle did not stop until the 182-mile marker. A gun battle ensued. A Riverside police patrol vehicle was reportedly struck.

One suspect is in custody. Another fled on foot into the woods in St. Clair County. The escaped suspect is reportedly armed and dangerous. Authorities have established a perimeter. The public should try to avoid the area.

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