RIDE III road projects warrant one cent sales tax increase

The Ride III commission committee voted on a preliminary list of road projects that it says warrants a one cent sales tax increase for Horry County residents.

After various meetings, the commission decided on 13 projects considered to have high priority, as well as 100 miles of dirt road paving and an additional 100 miles of road resurfacing.

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Photo of the 13 road projects recommended in the preliminary RIDE III project listing.

A six-lane widening of U.S. 501, four-lane widening of Carolina Forest Blvd, extending S.C. 31 to the North Carolina state-line, extending Fred Nash Boulevard to connect with Harrelson Boulevard and widening Forestbrook Road are just a few that are highlighted in the recommended project listing.

It is estimated that these projects will require a $590 million budget to execute, but the Department of Transportation estimated a much larger budget needed to complete all of the vital road improvements throughout the county.

According to Director of the RIDE III commission, Eddie Dyer, a one cent sales tax increase is essential because of the lack of funding from the state and government. 

“The feds aren’t giving us any money this year,” said Dyer. “The state of South Carolina gave us $10 million. Now, if you put $10 million beside $1.944 billion, you can see why the one cent sales tax is being proposed.”

Conway resident Jody Nyers said the challenge for the commission is going to be how to prioritize the projects.

“I truly believe that all these projects have an importance and now it is that matter of prioritizing them,” said Nyers. “What I feel is important might be different then what somebody else feels important, but I do believe that we need to get 501. It’s my number one priority or at least it would be in my mind.”

If approved in November 2016, the sales tax will go into effect May 2017 and will last eight years.

The tax will include all retail sales, prepared food, beverages and lodging rentals. All groceries are exempt.

Public Information Officer for Myrtle Beach, Mark Kruea, said that residents recognize that the need for the sales tax increase is imperative.

“The voters have approved it on 2 different occasions,” said Kruea “They understand that by virtue of all of the visitors that we get, that not only their money but all of the visitor’s money goes to pay for these road projects that we couldn’t afford any other way. The voters already said yes to it twice before so that is a good sign.”

Nyers, who has followed the initiatives since RIDE I, expressed support for the tax increase because it is being used for something that is beneficial.

“I’ve been here for RIDE I and RIDE II but I agree RIDE III mainly because the 1 cent sales tax,” said Nyers. “Anyway that we can collect money to then use it for the purpose of paving and widening is beneficial and the only way we’re going to get money to do any of this is by putting out something like a one cent sales tax. I’m a person that believes that if I’m going to pay taxes, I will gladly pay an extra cent if I know for a fact that money is going to these road improvements or establishments of new roads.”

Because of Myrtle Beach’s location, many visitors come to enjoy the beach and spend money during heavy tourist seasons like spring and summer.

Dyer said that the revenue from the tourists should take some of the costs away from residents.

“With my committee, what we’re trying to say is that this can be done with a one cent sales tax,” said Dyer. “We are a very heavy tourist area and those tourists are going to pay close to half of the overall tax. This helps take some of the burden of paying off of residents.”

If the sales tax is not approved, Horry County will only have the $10 million given to it by the state of South Carolina and will have to rework its plans entirely.

“There’s no plan B,”  said Dyer. “If you’re happy with the roads and the traffic situation around here the way it is don’t worry about the penny sales tax.”

Horry County residents will have the chance to vote in November 2016 during the primary elections.

ISIS threatens social media moguls, Zuckerberg and Dorsey in recent video

A recent video made by supporters of ISIS threatens Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey for fighting back against terrorism on their social media platforms.

The group who call themselves the Sons of Caliphate released a 25-minute propaganda video titled “Flames of the Supporters.”

A team of deep web analysts at Vocativ discovered the video on the social media message-sharing site, Telegram, which ISIS frequently uses.

The video shows photos of the two social media moguls covered in bullet holes and engulfed in flames.

A screenshot from the recent video released by the Islamic State, showing Dorsey and Zuckerberg.

It also shows hackers allegedly modifying profile accounts and posting Islamic state propaganda.

The video was posted in response to the action by Facebook and Twitter to combat terrorism by suspending accounts and removing posts that encourage terrorism and could provoke violence.

Twitter announced in a blog post in February that the company had suspended over 125,000 accounts that contained threatening content primarily related to ISIS.

“We condemn the use of Twitter to promote terrorism and the Twitter Rules make it clear that this type of behavior, or any violent threat, is not permitted on our service,” the blog post reads.

Assistant Professor of Intelligence and National Security Studies at Coastal Carolina University, Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis, said that ISIS needs social media platforms in order to expand.

“ISIS actually is very much in need of this media in order to promote it’s national agenda,” said Fitsanakis. “One thing that makes ISIS different from other terrorist groups is that ISIS is an international group. It has an international agenda. It has international followers. So it needs these platforms, the online platforms, in order to reach them.”

In the video the group claimed to have hacked over 10,000 Facebook accounts, 150 Facebook groups and 5000 accounts on Twitter and said that a number of these accounts have been handed over to their supporters.

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Screenshot taken from the Islamic State’s video showing the alleged number of hacks made by the group.

The video concludes with a direct threat to the CEOs and their companies.

“You announce daily that you suspend many of our accounts, and to you we say: Is that all you can do? You are not in our league,” the video clip reads.  “If you close one account we will take 10 in return and soon your names will be erased after we delete your sites, Allah willing, and will know that we say is true.”

In a recent interview with the CEO of Axel Springer, Mathias Dopfner, Zuckerberg expressed uneasiness that spans beyond the recent video threat.

“I am very concerned but not because of the video,” he told Mathias Döpfner. “There have been worse threats.”

Similar threats were made to Zuckerberg by a Pakistani extremist a few years ago. The extremist called for Zuckerberg to be sentenced to death because the company refused to remove a group that encouraged the illustration of the prophet Mohammad, an act that is illegal in Pakistan.

Related: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg reveals 2010 Pakistan death threat

After the attacks at Charlie Hebdo, a kosher grocery store in Paris, Zuckerberg responded in a post on Facebook that encouraged the “need to reject a group of extremists trying to silence the voices and opinions of everyone  else around the world.”

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Screenshot of Zuckerberg’s comments on Facebook following the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris on January 7-9, 2015.

In the interview with Dopfner, Zuckerberg identified an underlying common theme in previous and current threats.

“I think the bigger issue is that what Facebook stands for in the world is giving people a voice and spreading ideas and rationalism,” said Zuckerberg.

Similar threats were also made to Twitter’s Dorsey when a self-identified group of ISIS supporters claimed that Dorsey and Twitter started a “war” against the Islamic State after suspending hundreds of the group’s social media accounts.

Related: ISIS supporters threaten Twitter founder Jack Dorsey

The Islamic State’s ultimate goal is much more complex than a war on social media.

Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Coastal Carolina University, Dr. Jeffry Halverson, explained what the terrorist group is trying to achieve.

“ISIS wants to create a homogenous Sunni Muslim state that governs according to their puritanical, reactionary form of “Islamic law,” said Halverson. “The state would serve as base for attacks against regional governments deemed unacceptable or to be enemies of ISIS, as well as against foreign states that involve themselves in the region or that interfere with their ambitions, such as the United States.”