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Syrian Rebels Choose Former Texan As New Prime Minister


Five stories that have North Texas talking: A fascinating new beginning for former information technology executive Ghassan Hitto, Mike Miles gets down to business on merit pay for DISD teachers, weird sounds from Carrollton and more.

Syrian rebels have chosen a U.S. citizen virtually unknown to politics to head up the opposition's interim government – a former information technology executive that lived in Wayne, Texas (near Texarkana) until recently.

Ghassan Hitto, 50, was born in Damascus. His son Obaida, who spread information about the struggles of Syrian rebels via YouTube videos he made from the ground, was in the news before his father. [NY Times]

  • Mike Miles said he would overhaul the pay system for DISD’s teachers, shifting the reward focus from years of service to measurable performance. And the superintendent has begun that process of re-jigging – he’s asking stakeholders to throw out ideas for a pay-for-performance overhaul. Already, teachers have 12 spot observations a year, and reports from those will ultimately inform paychecks. [Dallas Business Journal]
  • When people say that Carrollton’s sleepy as ever, they must not be listening. And we’re not talking about the new and charming Dead Wax Records shop. There’s a loud popping noise the residents are getting used to again, and it comes from “screamers” and “bangers” the city is shooting off. Why? Fleets of egrets that plague Carrollton with droppings and a harsh ammonia smell made getting the mail an unpleasant task for many residents. And the birds are back. [Unfair Park]
  • As evidence continues to roll in from SXSW, some film developed to show a lesser-documented aspect of the storied intimate shows in Austin – the crowds. Austin photojournalist and musician Tamir Kalifa (Mother Falcon) played 8 shows during the festival and used film cameras to take panoramas from the stage, and outside rehearsal as band members greeted a comrade by piling up on top of her car, and other rowdy places. [NPR] (Review our own SXSW page for more photos and interactive, film, and music highlights.)
  • Still licking that green icing off of St. Patty’s Day cupcakes? Close your eyes. Can you still taste the green? Or does it taste like the delight of the person who handed it to you? Some people claim they can sense colors or even emotions when they eat. It’s called synesthesia, and researchers have said 1 in 27 people have some form of the quirk. Basically, the activation of one sense, like tasting a wine, prompts a perception or reaction in another, like seeing aquamarine while tasting said wine. [NPR]
Lyndsay Knecht is assistant producer for Think.