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Latest from Veronica Waters

    Technology helped track a prolific thief in Sandy Springs.   Police believe Matthew Robert Brown, 34, may have unknown numbers of identity theft victims nationwide.   On July 9, a Ring doorbell camera recorded video of a porch pirate tiptoeing away with someone's package from a neighborhood near Peachtree Dunwoody Road. Another resident's package was stolen from a house a little over a mile away. The thief could be seen getting into a light-colored SUV and driving away.    The neighborhood had installed a Flock Safety tag reader camera, which captured the suspect’s vehicle and tag number.    Sandy Springs Police Sgt. Sam Worsham says police paired that information to have the Flock system send officers an alert if that license plate was captured on another camera.   Days later, it was. Officers responded to an alert from a city Flock camera that the SUV was driving near Roswell Road and pulled Brown over on July 15. Brown gave police a phony ID, says Worsham. Officers figured out who he was, though, and found that he had outstanding warrants in Atlanta and in Fulton County for identify theft, fraud, and burglary.  'We did find in the vehicle eight credit cards with different names, 17 piece of mail with different names, drugs in the car,' says Worsham. 'We currently have him booked in Fulton County Jail on 34 warrants.'   They had no way of immediately knowing that Brown was the person they'd been hunting in connection with a big ID theft case out of Michigan back in April.   Sandy Springs Police were contacted then by an American Express investigator who said a customer's credit card had been stolen and used online to buy a $59,000 piece of artwork that was shipped to an address in the city. 'The person had used a false name to obtain an apartment, and at the time that the officers and detectives started to catch up with him, had already been evicted,' Worsham says.    An eagle-eyed investigator noticed that the name used to buy the SUV that Brown--the suspected package thief--was driving was the same as the name police had been given in the April probe.   'Officer Hunt noticed that the name was the same and put two and two together and said, 'Oh, this guy's kind of running an identity theft ring,'' Worsham says.    A search warrant at Brown's last known residence revealed a treasure trove of potential stolen identities.   'We have boxes and boxes of mail, [and] several possible credit cards in other people's name,' says Worsham. 'We are anticipating more and more victims coming forward and saying that they were also a victim of Mr. Brown's and that they've had their identities stolen and used.' Worsham says investigators would likely have caught up with Brown anyway, but that the camera technology gave them a big break--not only giving them a look at the suspect but at his vehicle--and helped it happen sooner.   'Using the camera system and the license plate readers, it's kind of a force multiplier. It's sort of like electronic surveillance,' says Worsham, who adds that criminals may be less likely to strike if they suspect their actions may be captured on video in many different places.   'It's very helpful to us. It benefits the neighborhoods. It's kind of a good all-around technology. It may actually in the future begin to prevent crime because people know, 'I'm going to get caught.'' 
  • They are calling it an attack upon a sworn law enforcement officer. Now, the reward has jumped to $23,000 to find and prosecute the arsonist who has hit twice in southwest Atlanta.A contingent of dozens of Atlanta public safety personnel gathered Tuesday afternoon on the block where it happened as the reward increase was announced, sending a clear message of the importance of the crimes.The arsonist was brazen, attacking in mid-afternoon both times. Atlanta Police say the first fire was set at a house in the 300 block of Betsy Avenue, on January 15, 2019. The second Betsy Avenue blaze came months later--June 26. The latter was at the home of an Atlanta Police officer who was just moving into the neighborhood. 'We believe she was an actual target,' says Atlanta Police Maj. Michael O'Connor, who calls the crime particularly egregious. The motive for the first one is unknown. No one was injured in either fire.
  • A would-be slider targeted a woman at the gas pump in Conyers. She targeted him right back.   It happened at 8:32 Tuesday evening, July 2, at the Abbott Ridge BP off Sigman Road. Rockdale County Sheriff's Deputy Lee Thomas says video shows the suspect creeping toward the woman's Dodge Challenger after he was dropped off by someone in another vehicle. The man is crouched low as he approaches the far side of the white car, with its driver door standing open.   'While she was pumping gas, she didn't realize that he had slid into the vehicle through the passenger door until he was behind the driver's [wheel],' Thomas tells WSB.    As the man revved the engine, the car's owner reacted quickly.  'When she noticed that he was in there, she actually took the gas hose and doused him with gasoline,' says Thomas. The suspect darted out of the vehicle and ran back toward his buddy's car, a silver Chrysler 300. The sheriff's office says it is a first-generation model, from the model years 2005-2010. They believe at least two other people were inside. Thomas says this is the first time he's heard of someone fighting off a slider this way. 'I think it was very good. She obviously had good situational awareness of her surroundings to react that way,' he says.  Still, Deputy Thomas advises that everyone take steps to prevent themselves from becoming burglary victims--even close calls such as this one.  'We have a 'Lock It or Lose It' campaign that we've had going on for some while now. What we're trying to get the citizens to try and do is to make sure that they're aware of their surroundings. Lock the vehicle, and by no means should they ever leave it running,' Thomas says. The suspect's description is somewhat vague, as he appears to be a slim black male standing 5'10' to 6'0' tall. But Thomas says one thing would tip off people who might have come across him after the crime: 'Probably smelled of gasoline, definitely.
  • Another ransomware attack targets offices in Georgia--but the hackers' demand is puzzling.The attack on Georgia's Administrative Office of the Courts, which provides website and other digital support to the state's judiciary on multiple levels, was found Saturday, June 29, during routine server maintenance. Bruce Shaw, spokesman for the AOC, says two servers have been compromised.'We confirmed that it is, indeed, ransomware,' says Shaw. 'There was a note left on the server.'There's no amount.
  • Nearly a year after the previous Roswell Police Department chief promised a 'top-down' review of the department, an external audit has been completed. Since then, that chief, Rusty Grant, has stepped down and Center for Public Safety Management LLC has found a department that is suffering from low morale. The 182-page audit, however, focuses most of its 86 recommendations on management and organization--not police work. The draft report was released in late June, with the department under the leadership of interim police chief Helen Dunkin. WSB Radio has reached out to Interim Chief Dunkin for comment.
  • On Monday, the Georgia Supreme Court allowed Ryan Alexander Duke’s trial for the alleged 2005 murder of Irwin County teacher Tara Grinstead to go forward. Anticipating Duke’s next day in court, WSB Radio’s Veronica Waters is taking an in-depth look back at his pre-trial appeal. Prior to Monday, Duke's lawyers asked the state Supreme Court to decide that it has the authority to hear Duke's pre-trial appeal over being denied indigent defense funding--without the trial judge okaying the appeal first. His attorneys, who are working pro bono--meaning for free--said they needed money for expert witnesses and defense investigators.  >>LISTEN TO WATERS’ ON-AIR REPORTS WITH WSB LEGAL ANALYST PHIL HOLLOWAY BELOW. Irwin County Judge Bill Reinhardt denied the defense lawyers efforts to get money from the public defender's office, while acknowledging that Duke had presented a compelling need for the experts. He did not give the certificate of immediate review Duke's team requested in March, so the Duke team asked the state's highest court to take the case without the judge's signing off on the interlocutory appeal.  Justices had tough questions for lawyers on both sides of the arguments.  'You say that if we don't review this now, this failure to fund experts will be reversible error on appeal. That may well be true. But if it's reversible error on appeal, how has Mr. Duke lost an important right by waiting for that appeal?' Justice Nels Peterson asked Duke attorney Evan Gibbs.  Justice Keith Blackwell told the State it seems to him they should want this issue decided pre-trial as well.  “I understand the desire to move on with the trial and in that sense a delay is bad,” Blackwell told prosecutor J. D. Hart, 'but it strikes me from the State's perspective that what's even worse is if you were to get a conviction, the possibility you might have to try all this again at some point. It seems to me the issue on funding is a very murky one.”  He also called it 'odd' that the State would decide that because a defendant is not exercising his right to appointed counsel that he must forfeit his right to get help with respect to experts.  'Seems odd that you would forfeit one constitutional right just to exercise another,' said Blackwell.  Blackwell indicated to both attorneys that if justices decide they cannot step in, both sides should be willing to talk with the judge to resolve this themselves.  The Duke case had been set for trial in April. Justices agreed in late March to hear these arguments, which were made May 7.  Authorities arrested Ryan Alexander Duke in February 2017, more than a decade after Grinstead disappeared from her home. Another man with a similar name, Bo Dukes, was convicted in Wilcox County in March of helping conceal Grinstead's death by burning her body, and was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
  • When you're buying heroin with bank robbery money, you can afford a lot of heroin.'   That's why Adam Meacham says he's okay with having been arrested after a short series of robberies that landed him in the dragnet of Roswell police and the FBI.   'I think I would have died,' he says. 'So I'm glad I got caught.'   He was called the 'photogenic bank robber' in 2011, but Meacham, now 34, says seeing the surveillance video of himself, giving a Roswell bank teller a demand note makes him sad.   'I look at those pictures and it makes me sick,' Meacham tells WSB, pointing out his dyed-black hair and too-pale features. 'I was 70 pounds lighter, and I looked like I was going to die.'   Sitting at a coffee shop in north Fulton County, Meacham says if he's honest with himself, he always felt different. His father was out of the house a lot behind bars; his mom worked a lot. He had a lot of alone time. He tried drinking in middle school and was using hard drugs by the time he was 14; he just liked the feeling, he says. That led to a series of addiction-fueled crimes that landed him in and out of jail for years, where he served short stints and brushed up against the confrontational nature of life behind bars more than once.   By the winter of 2011, his drug habit was costing him $200 a day, although today, he is clearly hesitant to quantify it. What if, he wonders, hearing the dollar amount is harmful to someone else who then believes their drug use isn't as detrimental as his was, since they may not spend as much money on it?  Is revealing that information anything other than a ‘wow’ factor? But that winter, the expensive habit led him to try to find a way to fund it.   'The thing that I remember the most about robbing the first bank was the feeling--like, I was terrified,' he recalls. 'I didn't want to do it, but I felt like I had to. And that's the thing I remember more than anything is this feeling is that 'I have to do this.' Almost like I would die if I didn't. I know that sounds absurd, but that's what it felt like. I had to.   'I had rent to pay, and I was a heroin addict.'   He walked around for about 15 minutes, he says, at war with himself about going through with it and trying to talk himself out of it. He didn't.   He gave a teller a note, got money--he says he doesn't remember how much--and walked away. He went to retrieve the backpack he'd stashed on a college's campus nearby, hearing sirens headed toward the bank, and then headed to Perimeter Mall, expecting to blend into the crowds there.   The second and third times, however, he says it got a lot easier. Perhaps a month after the first one, Meacham committed another robbery. Then, maybe five days later, he says, the third one. While he threatened violence in his notes, he didn't actually carry a gun, but he agonizes over the fear his crime instilled back then.   Meacham's photo went out to the news media. The day he was captured in February of 2011, he says, he was picking up his then-girlfriend at Perimeter Mall, asking her what she wanted for dinner, when suddenly, 'Everyone around me turned into a cop.' He recalls seeing officers from at least three agencies and the FBI on the scene.   Behind bars, he learned that his father was the one who'd dropped a dime on him. His father--who had himself battled drug addiction and served time for robbing banks--wrote his son a letter behind bars, telling Adam how proud he was of him for 'going big' when he decided to commit a crime.   Adam took a deal, pleading out to robbery by intimidation. He was sentenced to 10 years to serve three; he was behind bars less than two years. and got out of prison in late 2012.   'The psychological aftereffects are horrendous,' he says, recalling that for six months afterward, he had a hair-trigger of a temper. Meacham repaid all the money in installments. He met a woman and they got married. He got sober shortly after he learned he was going to become a father. He'd used once after his release, and had run into trouble with the law again. The same judge he'd had on his criminal case sentenced him to five years' probation, concurrent with his parole.   When the marriage failed, Adam got custody of his now-kindergarten-age daughter, whom he adores.   'She's awesome. She's so cool,' he gushes, swiping through photos of the smiling tot on his phone. 'She's kind and loving, smart and hilarious--she's a great kid, man. I'm so lucky.'   Adam's relationship was breaking up at the same time the opioid crisis was hitting hard. He went to 13 funerals in one year, he says, and decided to quit his job at a treatment center to go back to school. He took out 'a bunch of loans' and enrolled at Kennesaw State University, where he is close to finishing his bachelor's degree. His goal is to get a master's degree in social work, then work in the prison system or in criminal justice reform.   'Maybe just having a non-judgmental in some of those men's lives will make a huge difference for them, even if they're never getting out one day,' says Meacham.   He's quick to say that he's not trying to be anybody's inspiration--he's a realist.   'Look, I would love to inspire somebody. That would be really cool, right? That would be amazing, good for my ego,' Adam chuckles. 'But I don't think that's the right way to look at this stuff.   'I don't think anybody who's currently in the situation that I was in would tell you that 'a lack of inspiration' is one of their primary concerns. The issues are deeper than that. As much as I would love to take credit for my story turning out happier than some others, at the end of the day I believe that if I had been a young black man or a young Hispanic man, I would still be in prison. I think I've done a pretty good job at making good choices when the opportunity was given to me, but I also believe those opportunities were primarily presented to me because of my skin color.'   Today, he calls himself 'a big square.' His old heroin addiction has been replaced with the need to make life good, safe, and secure for his little girl. He tries not to stress himself over making sure he has enough money for tuition, and making enough money to pay his student loans. He thinks about the way he will tell his story to his daughter one day and hopes to protect her, keep her feeling loved and wanted.   'I want to give her something that I didn't have, and I want her to be okay,' says Meacham. 'A lot of this is about her.' Click below for the radio version below:
  • Police are hoping the public can help identify a man who allegedly burglarized a home in Paulding County -- and cut the homeowner’s neck while holding her at knifepoint. Angie Vaughn returned home after a night out on March 28, interrupting a man who was burglarizing her home on Ginnity Drive.  Paulding County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ashley Henson says the man surprised the homeowner, grabbing her from behind and holding a knife to her throat. At one point she was able to break away, but the ‘smelly suspect’ snatched her back and continued to hit her, while hurling vulgar language at her, before he fled the scene and got away with money and credit cards.  “He was just a very grungy, dirty individual -- and just very violent with her,” Sgt. Henson tells WSB Radio’s Veronica Waters. Henson adds that Vaughn noted the suspect was “very soiled and smelled of cigarettes.” The homeowner, Angie Vaughn, chimed in on the Paulding County Sheriff’s Facebook page, correcting those who were assuming that the attack was not harmful to her. “This attack happened against me, so to the ones sharing and offering to pray for me I really appreciate it and to the ones that think this is a joke you should really be ashamed of yourselves,” Vaughn’s post reads. “And for some of you to say well we thought she was just pushed, well how would you like someone to invade your home and push you? But just so you know I wasn't just pushed, he beat me, cut my throat and robbed me. “This sketch wasn't just to help get me some kind of justice it was also to save all of you jokers from the same fate.” “One of the things that she noted in her post was that he was able to cut her throat harshly -- not slice it open or anything like that -- but as a result of having a knife to her throat, she got cut a little bit,” Henson explains to WSB. He adds, “To come home and interrupt a burglary, and to be abused the way she was, is a very unsettling incident.” Henson says that that since posting the suspect’s sketch on their Facebook page, tipsters have posted photos of possible suspects, some of whom appear to be homeless. Police have said they are not counting out anything at this point as to the man’s identity or living situation.   Vaughn described the white male as having a foul odor consisting of a mixture of cigarettes and body odor. He is believed to be in his late 30’s to early 40’s and has brown hair. He was also described as having facial hair covering his top lip and appeared to be very dirty.  Tipsters are asked to call the Criminal Investigations Division of the Sheriff’s Office at (770) 443-3015.
  • A convicted sex offender wins an appeal before the Georgia Supreme Court after contending that his lifetime electronic monitoring was unconstitutional.    Joseph Park was convicted of child molestation and nine counts of sexual exploitation of a minor in Douglas County in 2003. He was classified as a 'sexually dangerous predator,' released from prison in 2011, and finished probation in 2015.   The following year, Park was arrested, then indicted, in DeKalb County for destroying his ankle monitor. He fought back in court, arguing that the GPS monitoring under the Georgia law amounted to an unreasonable search, as he had already completed all of his sentence.   The state's highest court agrees, ruling that the monitoring patently violates the Fourth Amendment which protects people against unreasonable searches and seizures.   'The Court's saying that once someone pays their debt to society, and they're not under sentence, it's unreasonable to require them to submit to electronic monitoring for the rest of their life,' says WSB legal analyst Phil Holloway. 'This is yet another clear indication, I think, that the Georgia court is taking a more libertarian stance when it comes to freedoms of all types, not just in the context of the Fourth Amendment.'    Justices said it's unconstitutional to use a 24/7, warrantless GPS monitoring 'to the extent that it authorizes such searches of individuals, like Park, who are no longer serving any part of their sentences in order to find evidence of possible criminal conduct,” writes Chief Justice Harold Melton.   Georgia Code § 42-1-14 sets up a risk classification system on the ground that “recidivist sexual offenders, sexual offenders who use physical violence, and sexual offenders who prey on children are sexual predators who present an extreme threat to the public safety.” Park was listed in the most severe category, Level III.   Holloway notes, however, that the state Supreme Court made a note that such monitoring could be allowed if the law is changed. The Justices pointed out that some states have made lifetime GPS monitoring allowable when it is instituted as a part of the sentence itself. Justice Keith Blackwell noted this in a concurring opinion, writing that the decision “does not foreclose other means by which the General Assembly might put the same policy into practice.”   'Electronic monitoring of any person--whether or not they're classified as a predator or an ordinary citizen who's never been convicted of a crime does constitute a search,' explains Holloway. 'The Court has invited the legislature to change this, because all they would have to do is say that someone who is such a predator is going to be under sentence for the remainder of their life.'    He adds that there may be criticism of the idea from some corners.   'People who think that criminal sentences are already too long, and groups that do not like mandatory minimum sentencing, will not like this Court's invitation to the legislature to lengthen already-long sentences,' says Holloway.   The Georgia Bureau of Investigation's Sex Offender Registry website lists some 456 people as 'sexually dangerous predators.
  • Former attorney Michael Cohen testified Tuesday about Donald Trump's involvement in a $130,000 hush money payout to an adult film actress. But that money is only a fraction of how much the testimony is costing American employers.Andy Challenger, vice president at executive outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, says the enormously-anticipated testimony before the U.S. House Oversight Committee is being watched and discussed around the country--including by folks at work. Live-streaming of the testimony can add up to big distractions, he says.
  • Veronica Waters

    Reporter

    Veronica Waters is an anchor and reporter for News/Talk WSB. She is also the staff expert on legal affairs and the courts. In 2007, the Radio-Television News Directors Association named Waters' series on "Snaring Internet Predators" best in the region with an Edward R. Murrow award for Investigative Reporting.She has been honored by several professional organizations for news and sports feature reporting, and was named in 2003 as the Atlanta Press Club's Radio Journalist of the Year. Waters has covered an assortment of high-profile cases from Mayor Bill Campbell's corruption trial to the murder trials of activist-turned imam Jamil Al-Amin and of former DeKalb County, GA Sheriff Sidney Dorsey.She served as the station's correspondent for the murder trial of accused "Black Widow" Lynn Turner, and the death penalty case of double murderer Stacey Humphreys. One of the biggest legal cases in Atlanta history involved the notorious Gold Club racketeering trial. Waters covered this unfolding drama not only for WSB Radio and radio stations throughout America, but also for a worldwide audience on BBC Radio. Waters joined WSB in 1997 as an anchor and reporter. She began her journalism career at the Southern Urban Network and Mississippi Network in Jackson, MS. Waters attended Alcorn State University and Mississippi State University, and enjoys cheering for the NFL's Tennessee Titans.

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News

  • A New Jersey judge who said a teenage boy accused of rape deserved leniency because he came from a 'good family' and got good grades has resigned. >>Read more trending news Monmouth County Superior Court Judge James Troiano resigned Wednesday, the New Jersey Supreme Court announced. The resignation came after weeks of criticism from the public and death threats to Troiano's family, The New York Times reported. In 2018, Troiano, 69, was called out of retirement to hear the case of an alleged rape involving teenagers at a party the previous year, The Washington Post reported. Police said a 16-year-old boy recorded cellphone video of himself sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl. The boy allegedly sent the video to others with the caption, “When your first time having sex was rape.” Both teens were intoxicated during the incident, prosecutors said. Prosecutors in the case pushed for the teen to be tried as an adult, calling his alleged crime 'sophisticated and predatory,' CNN reported. Troiano denied prosecutors' request. He wrote in his July 2018 decision that he didn't think the teen's actions were necessarily rape, because in 'traditional' rape cases there are 'two or more generally males involved, either at gunpoint or weapon, clearly manhandling a person.' Troiano further wrote, “This young man comes from a good family who put him into an excellent school where he was doing extremely well. He is clearly a candidate for not just college but probably for a good college. His scores for college entry were very high.” The Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court reversed Troiano's decision in June, and sent the case back down for further judgement, CNN reported. Monmouth County prosecutors are planning their next move in the case. 'While we have the utmost respect for the Family Court and the judge in this case, we are grateful that the Appellate Division agreed with our assessment that this case met the legal standards for waiver to Superior Court,' Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said in a statement. 'As with all cases, we are assessing our next steps, which will include discussions with the victim and her family.
  • The first trailer for the upcoming musical film 'Cats' has been released. >>Read more trending news 'Cats' is an adaptation of the 1981 Broadway musical of the same name. Based on a collection of poems by T.S. Eliot and featuring music by Andrew Lloyd Weber, 'Cats' follows a tribe of cats called the Jellicles as they decide which cat will come back to life, according to the film's Internet Movie Database page. The original Broadway production ran for nearly 28 years and won several awards, including the 1983 Tony Award for Best Musical. The movie's star-studded cast includes Judi Dench, Idris Elba, Taylor Swift, Jennifer Hudson, James Corden and others. It introduces ballerina Francesca Hayward in her first movie role. Viewers tweeted their reactions to the trailer. Many reactions were negative, as viewers said they found the appearance of the cat characters unsettling. 'Cats' is set for a December 20 release date.
  • A photo of a dog tied up on the back of a tow truck as it goes down busy Massachusetts highway has upset so many drivers who saw it that they now won't stop calling the tow company. >> Read more trending news The Animal Rescue League and Massachusetts State Police are now investigating the alleged crime. The picture snapped by a Brockton, Massachusetts, man and posted on Facebook drew instant criticism. People quickly began posting their objections and flooding the towing company with calls. Apparently, the two people in the van being towed were in the cab of the tow truck and that's why the dog was chained to the bed. The dog is owned by the driver of the truck. The man who took the picture, Mike Gerry, also has a dog: Molly.  Mike says he saw the dog on the flatbed while driving down Route 128 near Route 2 on Wednesday. He beeped and tried to get the tow truck driver’s attention but had no luck. 'I posted it on Facebook for my buddies to put it out there. and it went unreal, it went ballistic,' Gerry said. 'And ever since then people have been commenting on it, 'you're doing the right thing.'' To be clear the company told WFXT the dog being chained to the back of a flatbed truck is not their policy. The driver has reportedly been fired and the dog is OK.  The company also says it is donating $1,000 to the MSPCA and has set up a call center so it can answer and return every single call about the incident.
  • An Oklahoma man is in custody after allegedly raping a 4-year-old girl in a McDonald’s bathroom while the child was on a field trip with her day care class, according to news reports. >> Read more trending news  It happened Tuesday inside a McDonald’s in Midwest City in metro Oklahoma City when the little girl went to the bathroom alone, WXIN-TV reported. Day care employees told responding officers they went to check on the girl after she had “been gone for a while.”  They said they found the bathroom door locked and when they knocked, a man opened the door.He allegedly came out with his hands up and said, “I was just washing my hands,” the news station reported. The 4-year-old allegedly told police she was touched inappropriately by the man, identified as Joshua Kabatra, 37. Police arrested Kabatra at the scene, according to WXIN. He’s facing two rape charges and a count of lewd acts with a child.
  • Do you feel you’re better focused on the job with a little light background jazz or coffee shop chatter compared to pin-drop silence? Scientists might know why. >> Read more trending news According to Onno van der Groen, a researcher with Australia’s Edith Cowan University school of medical and health sciences, some background noise can actually be beneficial for our senses. This phenomenon is called “stochastic resonance.” First studied in animals, stochastic resonance experiments suggest “sensory signals can be enhanced by noise and improve behaviour in various animals,” van der Groen wrote for The Conversation last week. “For example, crayfish were shown to be better at avoiding predators when a small amount of random electrical currents were added to their tail fins. Paddlefish caught more plankton when small currents were added to the water.” In human experiments, where noise levels were manipulated by getting participants to listen to noisy sounds or feel random vibrations on the skin, people were better able to see, hear and feel at “a certain optimum noise level.” If it were too loud, however, performance dropped. Van der Groen pointed out that stochastic resonance has several real life applications for humans, too. “Adding noise to the feet of people with vibrating insoles can improve balance performance in elderly adults,” he wrote. For patients with diabetes or those recovering from stroke, this can also be used to augment muscle function. His own research has found that when brain currents are applied to participants’ brains with random noise stimulation, “it improved how well they could see a low-quality image.” When he and other researchers applied the same technique to other groups, they noticed “decisions were more accurate and faster when brain cell noise levels are tuned up.” Transcranial random noise stimulation also influenced what participants saw during a visual illusion, suggesting noise could help people approach a situation from multiple perspectives. But the thing about stochastic resonance is it differs from person to person.  The optimal amount of noise for top-notch cognitive function depends on a variety of factors, such as brain variability. Excessive brain variability, van der Groen wrote, is common in those with autism, dyslexia, ADHD and schizophrenia. Elderly folks also tend to have more brain noise (or brain variability) than younger individuals. However, because brain noise can be altered with random noise stimulation, van der Groen believes there are opportunities to explore “interventions or devices to manipulate noise levels, which could improve cognitive functioning in health and disease.”  For example, a study of children with ADHD found white noise delivered specifically through Etymotic earphones at 77 decibels improved memory and concentration. Plenty of downloadable ambient, white and “pink” noise apps have also popped up in recent years. There’s Coffitivity, which plays an infinite loop of coffee-shop sounds — and Noisli, which suggests different sounds for different goals. If you want to improve productivity, you might mix raindrops and train tracks. For those who want to relax, listen to crashing waves. Generally, ambient noise is ideal for creativity, white noise is sound for concentration and pink noise might be most helpful in improving sleep quality. But remember, finding stochastic resonance isn’t a one-size-fits-all process. Play around and see which background noises and volumes work best for you. This guide from Techlicious is a good place to start.
  • An act of kindness extended by three young men has gotten a lot of attention on social media since then.  >> Read more trending news Sean Wetzonis says it all started when he, Pedro and two other friends from Malden planned to attend the game.  But one friend backed out, leaving Pedro with an extra ticket.  'And Pedro's father had suggested, he was like, 'find a girl. Find a girl to take to the game,'' Sean Wetzonis told Boston 25 News. But he said Pedro had another idea.  'He said, 'you know, I'll give it to a homeless person. If I could find a homeless person,' Wetzonis said. Finding a homeless person in Boston is not difficult. Enter John, who was sitting on a stoop near Fenway Park. 'When Pedro asked him if he wanted to go to a Red Sox game, at first I wasn't sure if he was going to get up, but then he said sure and he got up and he seemed pretty excited about it,' Wetzonis said.  He admits he was skeptical about taking a homeless guy to the game. 'I was kind of shocked. Everyone was like, 'dude. You got another ticket. You could try and sell it to make some money back.,' Wetzonis said.  But then he saw something you don't see enough of these days at professional sporting events: a fan actually watching the game.  'Everyone's there sitting on their phones, texting and looking around. He was really immersed in the game. He was there to enjoy the game,' Wetzonis said.  The Red Sox lost Tuesday night. But for three young men from Malden, it was, perhaps, the winningest night at Fenway ever.