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18 March 2020 20:36

Triple H WWE NXT Vince McMahon

By the time the urgent text message warning that the U.S. military was about to deploy soldiers across the country to enforce a nationwide quarantine landed on Pamela Chelin's phone this week, it had already made its way to an untold number of people. After a quick check of Twitter confirmed it was fake, she told her friend and another acquaintance who sent her a similar message not to spread the hoaxes any further. The message and several others like it that have circulated widely over the past week created a potent rumor mill and stirred up fear among recipients with dire warnings of martial law being imminently imposed by President Trump and similarly extreme scenarios, in which soldiers would be ordered to keep people in their homes. The fake missives spread to enough people that government officials felt they needed to knock them down with statements assuring the public they were untrue. The prevalence of hoax missives and less nefarious but nonetheless inaccurate information led the World Health Organization's director last month to declare that disinformation was as dangerous as the virus itself.

Some of the text messages, along with similar posts on Twitter and other social media platforms, compounded the confusion and worry by equating the idea of a government order instructing people to remain in their homes with martial law. Martial law refers to a rarely used and legally contentious power written into the Constitution under which the military is given authority to enforce civil laws throughout the country or a particular area during times of emergency when local courts and law enforcement are unable to do so. By contrast, the power to order people to remain in their homes during a health emergency, ban large gatherings and force restaurants to close, stems from state emergency public health laws that give officials broad authority to take aggressive steps aimed at protecting lives, Mello said. These laws, which go into effect when a state or local official declares a public health emergency, boost the authority officials have during normal times to safeguard the public by, for example, forcing a contagious person to be isolated, Mello said. In emergencies, that balance shifts slightly toward the government," Mello said.

The emergency laws also free up special funds and allow state and local officials to put aside strict regulations hospitals and health professionals must typically work under. The rambling message also claimed that "high ranking military friends in DC" had alerted the author of the president's plan to invoke a special federal law, the Stafford Act, to authorize his quarantine order. Trump did, in fact, use the Stafford Act last week when he declared a national emergency, but the move had nothing to do with quarantining people. And, as officials around California and elsewhere in the country began to issue dramatic orders that seemed to resemble the measures outlined in the messages, the hoaxes took on a greater sheen of believability. And Defense Secretary Mark Esper told a news conference Tuesday that more than 1,500 members of the National Guard have been activated in 18 states to staff drive-through testing facilities and emergency operations centers, as well as to sanitize public areas and transport healthcare workers. By the time the urgent text message warning that the U.S. military was about to deploy soldiers across the country to apply a national quarantine landed on Pamela Chelin's phone this week, it had already made its way to a number untold number of people. After a quick Twitter check confirmed that it was false, she told her friend and another acquaintance who sent her a similar message not to spread the hoaxes any further. The message and several others like this, which have been circulating widely over the past week, have created a powerful rumor mill and aroused fear among recipients with disastrous warnings of the impending martial law imposition by the President Trump and similar extreme scenarios, in which soldiers would be forced to keep people at home. The prevalence of hoaxes and less harmful but nonetheless inaccurate information led the Director of the World Health Organization to state last month that disinformation was as dangerous as the virus itself. Certain text messages, as well as similar messages on Twitter and other social media platforms, have added to the confusion and concern by equating the idea of ​​a government decree ordering people to stay at home with martial law. Martial law refers to a rarely used and legally controversial power enshrined in the Constitution under which the military is empowered to apply civil laws throughout the country or a particular region during times of emergency when local courts and forces of the order are not able to do so. President Abraham Lincoln put the country under martial law during the Civil War. The declaration applied to prisoners of war, spies, other Confederate sympathizers and Union deserters, and ultimately the Supreme Court held that Lincoln's proclamation was unconstitutional in parts of the country where the civil courts were still operating. Likewise, a federal judge has strongly criticized the way the US military applied martial law in Hawaii in the years following the attack on Pearl Harbor. On the other hand, the power to order people to stay at home during a health emergency, to ban large gatherings and to force restaurants to close, flows from national emergency public health laws which give authorities wide power to take aggressive action to protect lives, said Mello. These laws, which come into force when a state or local official declares a public health emergency, strengthen the authority that officials have in normal times to, for example, force the isolation of a contagious person, said Mello. "Our public health laws attempt to balance the civil rights of people with the need of the government to prepare for and respond to situations. Emergency laws also free up special funds and allow national and local authorities to set aside strict regulations under which hospitals and health professionals generally must work. One was said to contain first-hand information detailing how soldiers were ordered to prepare for a month on the streets of the United States "to help prevent looters and rioters" during a national quarantine. The rambling message also claimed that "high-ranking military friends in Washington" had alerted the president's plan to invoke a special federal law, the Stafford Act, to authorize his quarantine order. Trump actually used Stafford law last week when he declared a national emergency, but that decision has nothing to do with quarantining people. Instead, the law makes it easier for states to request emergency assistance from the federal government. And, as officials in California and elsewhere in the country began to issue dramatic orders that appeared to resemble the measures described in the messages, the hoaxes took on a greater burst of credibility. And Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said at a press conference on Tuesday that more than 1,500 members of the National Guard had been activated in 18 states to staff driving test facilities and drop-in centers.