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Weird Underwater Waves Spotted from Space

Weird Underwater Waves Spotted from Space - In the ocean, there are more waves than meet the eye.

Below the whitecaps breaking on the sea surface, so-called internal waves ripple through the water. These waves can travel long distances, but rarely does evidence of their existence surface — unless you're looking down from space, that is.

This photograph, taken on Jan. 18 by a crewmember on the International Space Station, shows internal waves north of the Caribbean island of Trinidad, as featured by NASA's Earth Observatory. From space, the appearance of the waves is enhanced due to reflected sunlight, or sunglint, aimed back at the space station, making the waves visible to an astronaut's camera. Earth Observatory - This photograph, taken on Jan. 18 by a crewmember on the International Space Station, shows internal waves north of the Caribbean island of Trinidad. 

The most prominent waves can be seen in the upper left of the photograph, moving in from the northwest due to tidal flow toward Trinidad, according to the Earth Observatory. Another set can be seen moving in from the northeast, likely created at the edge of the continental shelf, where the seafloor abruptly drops off, the site reported.

Internal waves are seen throughout Earth's oceans and atmosphere, according to MIT's Experimental and Nonlinear Dynamics Lab. They are created by differences in density of water layers (from changes in temperature or salt content, for example) when that water moves over a feature such as an underwater mountain or a continental shelf. The waves are huge, with heights up to 100 meters (about 330 feet) and widths that span hundreds of miles, according to a 2010 MIT press release on a new method for studying the waves.

A plume of milky sediment can also be seen moving to the northwest in the photograph. The sediment is carried by the equatorial current, which flows from east to west, starting in Africa, and is driven toward the Caribbean by strong easterly winds, according to the website. ( )

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Neanderthals Died Out Earlier Than Thought

Neanderthals Died Out Earlier Than Thought - Neanderthals may have died out earlier than before thought, researchers say.

These findings hint that Neanderthals did not coexist with modern humans as long as previously suggested, investigators added.

Modern humans once shared the planet with now-departed human lineages, including the Neanderthals, our closest known extinct relatives. However, there has been heated debate over just how much time and interaction, or interbreeding, Neanderthals had with modern humans.

Neanderthals Died Out Earlier Than Thought
The last Neanderthals had passed by southern Iberia quite earlier than previously thought, approximately 45,000 years ago and not 30,000 years ago as it has been estimated until recently. The new finding casts doubt on the theory that modern hu

To help solve the mystery, an international team of researchers investigated 215 bones previously excavated from 11 sites in southern Iberia, in an area known as Spain today. Neanderthals entered Europe before modern humans did, and prior research had suggested the last of the Neanderthals held out in southern Iberia until about 35,000 years ago, potentially sharing the region with modern humans for thousands of years.

Their data suggest that modern humans and Neanderthals may have actually lived in the area at completely different times, never crossing paths there at all. Even so, these findings do not call into question whether modern humans and Neanderthals once had sex — the findings simply indicate this interbreeding must have occurred earlier, before modern humans entered Europe.

"The genetic evidence for interbreeding — 1 to 4 percent Neanderthal DNA in present-day modern humans — suggests that interbreeding probably occurred before the period we are looking at in the Levant, the region around Israel and Syria, when modern humans first migrated out of Africa," researcher Rachel Wood, an archaeologist and radiocarbon specialist at Australian National University in Canberra, told LiveScience.

Dating bones

Scientists discover the ages of artifacts and fossils using a variety of techniques. For instance, radiocarbon dating determines the age of biological remains based on the ratio between the carbon isotopes (atoms of the same element with different numbers of neutrons) carbon-12 and carbon-14 it holds — this proportion changes as radioactive carbon-14 breaks down while stable carbon-12 does not. Researchers can also look at the layers of soil and rock in which objects are found — if these layers were not disturbed over the years, then objects in the same layer should be the same age.

The investigators concentrated on collagen, the part of bone most suited for radiocarbon dating. Only eight of these bones from two sites in Spain — Zafarraya Cave and Jarama VI — had enough collagen for analysis. 

One bone, which came from a wild goat, was found in Zafarraya Cave in a similar layer as Neanderthal fossils. The bone was previously estimated as 33,300 years in age. However, using an ultrafiltration technique that cleansed the bone of modern carbon impurities that can give inaccurate younger dates, they found the bone was more than 46,700 years old.

"Our work suggests that at present, it is unlikely that Neanderthals survived any later in this area than they did elsewhere in mainland Europe," said researcher Thomas Higham at the University of Oxford in England.

The most surprising thing "was the enormous difference that the ultrafiltration dating made to the chronologies of the sites we looked at," Wood said. "At other sites in Europe, we have seen that this improved method of dating bone makes a difference, making old bones older. However, we do not normally see such consistently large differences. This is probably because the preservation of the organic materials — bone and charcoal — that are normally radiocarbon dated is really poor in warm climates like southern Spain."

Analysis of the remaining samples revealed they were at least 10,000 years older than previously estimated. Instead, they were close to or more than 50,000 years old, the upper limit for radiocarbon dating.

When Neanderthals died out

"Our results cast doubt on a hypothesis that has been broadly accepted since the early 1990s — that the last place for surviving Neanderthals was in the southern Iberian Peninsula," Wood said. "Much of the evidence that has supported this idea is based on a series of radiocarbon dates, which cluster at around 35,000 years ago. Our results call all of these results into question."

These findings suggest modern humans and Neanderthals might not have interacted in this area. In northern Iberia, about 150 miles (250 kilometers) north of Jarama VI, past research suggested modern humans were only present starting about 42,000 years ago. These new findings hint that modern humans and Neanderthals did not coexist for millennia as before thought, and did not live side-by-side. 

"The results of our study suggest that there are major problems with the dating of the last Neanderthals in modern-day Spain," Higham said. "We now have to look very cautiously at the model of late Neanderthal survival in southern Iberia and focus our efforts on more rigorous dating programs."

One site, Cueva Antón in Spain, did seem as young as previously thought. However, it remains uncertain whether the artifacts there are linked with Neanderthals — they may belong to modern humans.

The researchers caution they are not definitely saying that there were no Neanderthals in southern Iberia after 42,000 years ago. "What we have is a gap where we have no reliable radiocarbon dates. There might have been Neanderthals or modern humans or both or neither," Wood said. Also, "there are several circumstances which could have obscured later interbreeding events in Europe, so it is not possible to say, for example, that at one time there was not more Neanderthal DNA in Europeans." ( )

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Dinosaur Footprints Lifted from NASA's Backyard

Dinosaur Footprints Lifted from NASA's Backyard - A chunk of stone bearing dinosaur footprints has been carefully lifted from the grounds of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., scientists report.

The dino tracks, thought to have been left by three separate beasts more than 100 million years ago, were discovered by amateur paleontologist Ray Stanford in August 2012.

The feature that first caught Stanford's eye was a dinner-plate-sized footprint of a nodosaur, a tanklike dinosaur studded with bony protuberances that roamed the area about 110 million years ago during the Cretaceous period (the period from 145 million to 65 million years ago that was the end of the Mesozoic Era). This particular lumbering leaf-eater must have been moving quickly across the prehistoric mud, as its heel did not sink deeply into the ground.

Dinosaur Footprints Lifted from NASA's Backyard
The 12-inch-wide footprint belonged to an armored, tank-like plant-eater.

Dinosaur Footprints Lifted from NASA's Backyard
The dinosaur footprints were encased in a field jacket, which is much like a cast that a doctor would place on a broken arm or leg. This field jacket consisted of many layers of burlap soaked in plaster, with metal pipes added to act like splin

A closer look at the site revealed two more prints. Stephen Godfrey, a paleontology curator at the Calvert Marine Museum, who was contracted to preserve the find, said he suspects one was left by an ornithopod, possibly from the iguanodontid family, which were large vegetarian dinosaurs with birdlike, three-toed feet that walked on its hind legs. Another smaller footprint found superimposed over the nodosaur track is thought to be from a baby nodosaur, perhaps trying to catch up to its parent, according to a statement from NASA. 

The stretch of ground containing the prints measured about 7 feet long and 3 feet across at its widest point (2 meters by 0.9 meters). After making a silicon-rubber cast of the dino tracks, the team covered the find in plaster-soaked burlap, much like an orthopedic cast, to reinforce the slab and protect it from damage during the big move. Altogether, the stone slab, the protective jacket and surrounding soil weighed about 3,000 pounds (1,360 kilograms), and it was successfully pulled out of the ground last month.

For now, the prints are being stored at Goddard until further scientific study is possible. The wonder of the discovery has not been lost on space scientists at Goddard, who often find themselves studying starlight as old as the dinosaurs.

"One of the amazing aspects of this find is that some of the starlight now seen in the night sky by astronomers was created in far-distant galaxies when these dinosaurs were walking on mud flats in Cretaceous Maryland where Goddard is now located," Jim Garvin, Goddard's chief scientist, said in a statement. "That starlight (from within the Virgo Supercluster) is only now reaching Earth after having traveled through deep space for 100 million years." ( )

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Is Prince Harry Unlucky in Love?

Is Prince Harry Unlucky in Love? - Now that he's returned from his tour of duty in Afghanistan, however, Harry, 28, has come under attack for everything from being too candid about the war to comparing his skill as an Apache helicopter pilot to his skill at playing video games.

Upon returning from Afghanistan last month, "Captain Wales," as he is known in the British army, said his time in war had made him a stranger to "normality' and made headlines again when he suggested that he had killed insurgents while there.


On the frontlines, Prince Harry is the soldier everyone can relate to, a guy among the guys.

"I don't know what normal is anymore," he said. "In the last day I was there, a 7-and-a-half-year-old girl got shot down by the insurgents. So normality is [a] very, very ambiguous thing, if you know what I mean."

"You get asked to do things," Harry added. "You get asked to do things you would expect to do wearing this uniform, and that is as simple as that really."

Now that he's back in England, attention has also returned to the young prince's love life. While his older brother, Prince William, prepares to welcome a royal heir with wife Kate Middleton, Harry remains a bachelor.

"I don't think you can ever be urged to settle down," Harry said in a series of interviews with the British media. "If you find the right person and everything's right, it takes time, for myself and my brother."

Harry brought longtime girlfriend Chelsea Davy to Kate and William's wedding in April 2011, but that romance fizzled after nearly seven years when Davy reportedly couldn't stand the limelight and paparazzi pressure that came with Harry's royal title.

In April, reports stated that Harry was "smitten" with Mollie King, 24, a member of the all-girl pop group The Saturdays, after the pair was spotted by British paparazzi singing karaoke with friends at London's Bunga Bunga club.

Prince Harry's latest rumored paramour was Cressida Bonas, the daughter of 1960s model Lady Mark-Gaye Georgiana Lorna Curzon. Bonas and Harry were first spotted together at the London premiere of "The Dark Knight Rises" last July and reportedly partied together at the Necker Island estate of Virgin mogul Sir Richard Branson just before Harry's infamous trip to Las Vegas in August.

Now that romance has reportedly cooled too, a split rumored to be caused by Harry's time away in Afghanistan and Bonas tiring of the circus that surrounded him in England.

"All of the women who like him for him, don't want to take on this huge role," Victoria Murphy, royal reporter for the U.K.'s Daily Mirror, told ABC News. ( ABC News Blogs )

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Parents of British boy in Spain face extradition

Parents of British boy in Spain face extradition — A critically-ill 5-year-old boy driven to Spain by his parents against doctors' advice is receiving medical treatment for a brain tumor in a Spanish hospital as his parents await extradition to Britain, police said Sunday.

Officers received a phone call late Saturday from a hotel east of Malaga advising that a vehicle fitting the description circulated by police was on its premises.

Both parents were arrested and the boy, Ashya King, was taken to a hospital, a Spanish police spokesman said. 

A copy of the photo released with a Yellow Notice issued by the international police force Interpol, Friday Aug. 29, 2014, asking for help to locate the missing five-year old boy Ashya King, who is believed to be in France. Police are searching for the five-year-old British boy who is suffering with a severe brain tumor whose parents, believed to be Jehovah’s Witnesses, took him out of a British hospital on Thursday and were last seen in France. The boy needs urgent medical treatment. (AP Photo/Interpol)             

The boy's situation will depend on medical advice, the spokesman said on condition of anonymity because he is not allowed to be cited by name in the media.

Spanish National Police had published several tweets on its official account giving details of the King family and asking the public to call an emergency number with any information.

"The Kings are currently being held in custody and police have 72 hours to question them before handing them over to a judge, who will begin extradition proceedings," said Chris Shead, of Britain's Hampshire Constabulary.

Shead said the parents were arrested on suspicion of neglect. They were receiving advice from Britain's consular services in Spain and would likely also face questioning by British police who were due to arrive in Malaga on Sunday, he added.

An international search began Thursday for the boy, who has a severe brain tumor, after his parents removed him from a hospital in the southern English city of Southampton in the county of Hampshire.

A European arrest warrant was issued by Interpol, at the request of British police, for the boy's parents, Brett and Naghemeh, both Jehovah's Witnesses. There has been no indication that the parents raised any religious issue about the boy's treatment.

The family had been seen traveling from Britain to France aboard a car ferry and Spanish police had been alerted.

Spanish state television broadcaster TVE said on its website that the minors among the couple's five other children were being looked after by their adult brothers. ( Associated Press )

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8 Things You Should Never Say to Your Kid

Big discipline mistakes you might be making (and how to fix them). Plus, get more toddler discipline advice - You know the drill: You give your child an ultimatum -- "Get dressed or we're staying home!" -- and naturally she says, "Okay, we'll stay home!" Might as well plant a big "L" on your forehead. We all see our discipline efforts backfire on occasion (hey, you're tired!), and of course there are those battles just not worth fighting (no kid ever flunked preschool because his teeth were furry). But you do need to prove you're the parent at least some of the time. Learning to avoid these discipline land mines can help you hop to it.

© Stephanie Rausser
Way to Blow It #1: Tell a Big Ole Lie
"My two-year-old daughter, Chloe, fights me about going to her babysitter's house every Monday," says New Jersey mom Gina Kane. One morning when Chloe refused to get out of the car, "I pointed to the house next door and told her it was a daycare center run by the caveman from the Geico commercials, which really scare her," says Kane. "I said she had a choice: Go to the sitter's house or to the caveman's daycare." Mission accomplished -- Chloe dashed to the sitter's door. Fast-forward a week: The babysitter casually asked Kane if she knew of a daycare center in the neighborhood because her daughter couldn't stop talking about it. "I was mortified having to explain, and Chloe now thinks that all daycare centers are run by cavemen," Kane admits. "I'm in big trouble if I ever actually have to send her to daycare."

A Better Way: Little white lies are so tempting in a pinch. You might even get away with them sometimes. Another mom had a great run while her toddler was afraid of a local clown named Macaroni. Whenever he refused to cooperate, she'd just say, "Maybe we should get Macaroni!" and the little guy would immediately don his pj's or gobble his carrots. But as Kane found out, scare tactics can and do come back to bite you in the butt, so it's best to be honest, says Bonnie Maslin, author of Picking Your Battles. Kane could have said instead, "I know sometimes you don't want to go to your babysitter. Sometimes I don't want to go to work." Empathizing would have made the Monday-morning transition easier.

Way to Blow It #2: Back Down
You want a surefire way to make sure your kids never listen to you? Threaten but don't act. My daughter Ella and I recently went for a playdate at a friend's house, where the little girl kept snatching away whatever toy Ella picked up. Her mom would say, "Give that back to Ella or I'll take it away," and then turn back to our conversation. Of course, as soon as Ella moved on to another toy, the little girl wanted that one.

A Better Way: It's no fun to be the bad guy, but if a child acts out, there has to be a consequence. "Repeatedly saying 'If you don't stop throwing sand, I'm going to make you leave the sandbox' won't stop the bad behavior," says Bridget Barnes, coauthor of Common Sense Parenting for Toddlers and Preschoolers. "What your child hears is 'I can keep doing this a few more times before Mom makes me stop.'"

Instead, give a warning, and then, if your child does it again, give an immediate consequence such as a time-out. If he continues, leave. The next time, a gentle reminder should do the trick: "Remember how we had to leave when you threw the sand? I hope we don't have to go home early again today."

Way to Blow It #3: Dis Dad (or Vice Versa)
When Polly Lugosi and her husband, Jim, take their two kids, Zoe, 5, and Miles, 2, out for a treat, this Milwaukie, OR, couple tells them that they have to behave or they won't get it. "Unfortunately, my husband is a complete pushover and always gives them the treat even if they act up," says Polly.

A Better Way: Even though Jim doesn't mean to undermine Polly's efforts, that's exactly what he's doing. Showing a united front won't just help your child behave better, it'll also prevent you from feeling like the bad guy all the time. "If you and your husband prefer to use different punishments, that's okay -- just as long as there are consequences for the same actions," says Nancy Schulman, coauthor of Practical Wisdom for Parents: Demystifying the Preschool Years. When your child is out of earshot, create a list of rules and discuss different options, she says.

Way to Blow It #4: Bribe a Little Too Often
"My two-year-old daughter, Isabelle, has never been a great eater," says Liz Samuel, a mom in Montclair, NJ. "So I once offered her a piece of chocolate if she would just finish her lunch." The reward worked perfectly: Isabelle ate her chicken and sweet-potato fries -- but then she demanded another treat at dinnertime. "Now, whenever I want her to eat, she asks for either chocolate or a lollipop," complains the mom. "Plus, she'll eat just one fry and then expect her treat."

A Better Way: We all need to keep a good bribe up our sleeves -- to get through the grocery store, a church service, or that new episode of Mad Men you had to TiVo because you were too whipped to stay up for it. But the experts insist that reinforcing good behavior is a better way to go. "So instead of saying 'If you're good at Grandma's today, I'll buy you a toy,' try 'I'm really proud of you for sitting so nicely during dinner at Grandma's,'" advises Maslin. And don't underestimate the power of disappointment. "Saying 'I'm really sad you broke the present Daddy gave me' makes a child feel appropriately bad about his behavior," says Maslin. "You may feel like a terrible parent in the moment, but you're actually helping your child develop a conscience."

Way to Blow It #5: Break Your Own Rules

When Anne Wear's 2-year-old son, Brandon, would do things he shouldn't -- take his mom's car keys or pull books off the shelf, for example -- this High Point, NC, mom would slap his hand and say "No, sir!" in a harsh tone of voice. "It worked great," she says, "until his preschool teacher caught him slapping the hands of any child who took his toy or cut in front of him in line!" Wear quickly realized that she couldn't say it was wrong for Brandon to smack his friends' hands when she and her husband, Brian, were doing the same thing to him. "We switched to time-outs," says Wear.

A Better Way: Not only are kids little mimics, emulating your bad behaviors, but they'll call you on it, as Suzi Dougherty found out. Her 2-year-old, Will, knows that throwing toys in the house is a definite no-no. "But one day my husband, Chris, threw a dog toy into the next room, just to get it out from underfoot," says this Newburgh, NY, mom. "Will immediately ordered him into a time-out! Since then, we try to be more careful and follow our own rules," she says. "But on the plus side, at least it showed us that the 'no throwing toys' rule is starting to sink in!"

Way to Blow It #6: Lose It
Taking care of an active toddler requires a lot of patience. But there are times when Gabrielle Howe of Staten Island, NY, finds herself at the end of her rope when dealing with 2-year-old Thea. "One particularly trying day I completely lost it and yelled at Thea," admits this working mom. "She then tried to send me to my room!"

A Better Way: Time-outs aren't just for kids -- they work great for adults, too. "Give yourself permission to walk away," says Schulman. "Take a deep breath, count to ten, and then you'll be much more effective when disciplining your child." Walk into another room if you need to, as long as your child is safe in his crib or a childproofed room. "If you can't leave your child alone, then you should both go into another room," she adds. "Often a change of scenery will help you both cool off." If your husband or a friend is around, just say "I need a break, can you handle this one?" suggests Schulman. And remember that kids are expert at pushing your buttons, but if you can avoid letting the situation escalate by giving one warning and then an immediate consequence, it may help keep you both calm.

Way to Blow It #7: Wait Too Long
Recently I was stuck in traffic with my 2-year-old daughter, Ella, when she started getting fidgety and tried to wiggle out of her car seat. Frustrated by both the slow trip home and the endless rounds of "Row, row, row your boat," I told her that if she didn't put her buckle back on correctly, she wouldn't get to have a bedtime story that night -- a technique that works great when my daughter's procrastinating about getting into her pajamas or brushing her teeth before bed. This time, though, bedtime was hours away -- and the threat pretty much meaningless. Ella didn't stop playing with her seat buckle, and it seemed pointless to remind her about it hours later when she was getting ready for bed.

A Better Way: "Kids don't remember what they did wrong an hour after the fact, never mind the next day," says Barnes. "You want to show them the consequences of their actions as close to the bad behavior as possible." If your child hits a friend with a toy truck, don't cancel tomorrow's playdate -- just take away the truck.

Way to Blow It #8: Talk On... and On... and On
My husband, Patrick, tends to launch into long explanations with Ella, like how going to sleep is a good idea because she'll feel well rested for our upcoming busy day at Grandma's house. Tempting as it can be to try and reason with a young child, you might as well be speaking gibberish.

A Better Way: "Kids are not mini-adults," says Barnes. "Long explanations or instructions go right over their heads." Saying "No cookies before dinner" is enough to get the point across; you can skip the lecture about how sweets will spoil a tiny appetite. Keep your words age-appropriate, too. "I had one parent who was tired of always telling his son to stop whining," says Barnes. "Then one day his child finally asked, 'What's whining?'" It's okay to use a term like whining as long as you explain what you mean: "I can't understand you when you whine. Please use your big-boy voice."

Getting Back on Track
You gave a warning, then caved in. Or you yelled at your kid- for yelling at you. Below, how to fix your own bad behavior, from Nancy Schulman, coauthor of Practical Wisdom for Parents.

Get Over It "We all make mistakes," says Schulman. "Don't beat yourself up. Just say 'I know I said -- or did -- something I shouldn't have. Let's try to all follow these rules from now on.'"

Take it Slow Even if you feel like your discipline techniques need to be completely overhauled, pick two of your top issues and start there. Don't overwhelm your child with 20 new rules. "Sit down when he's calm and go over the rules so he knows what's expected of him," says Schulman.

Work Around It Let's say your child always has a tantrum over what to eat for breakfast. Rather than duke it out each morning, offer your child just two choices -- say, cereal or eggs -- so he can still feel in control.

Give it Time "It takes time to undo a pattern of bad behavior," notes Schulman. "If you start being consistent, they'll catch on. It may take ten or twenty times, but they'll get it." ( )

Blog : Brilliant Purple | 8 Things You Should Never Say to Your Kid

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Child trafficking

Child trafficking - A cruel trade -To curb widespread trafficking of abducted children, officials and parents are turning to social media  
THE Chinese new year, which this year falls on February 10th, is a time of family reunions. But Xiao Chaohua is preparing to spend his sixth new year without his son, who was abducted in 2007 by suspected child traffickers. China’s one-child policy has fuelled demand for children like his, thousands of whom are snatched and sold every year to desperate, usually boy-less, couples. Spurred by the campaigning of parents like Mr Xiao, the government is starting to acknowledge the practice more openly. But curbing it is proving tough.

Still looking

Mr Xiao has been trying the hard way to raise awareness of the crime; driving around the country in a minivan covered with posters of missing children. One of them features his son, then five years old, dressed up for a school photograph in a white jacket with red lapels (see picture). Mr Xiao, who lives in a village near Tongzhou, one of Beijing’s satellite towns, says he has spent as much as 400,000 yuan ($64,300) of his own money on the project. He says there are other parents elsewhere in China who tour the country in similarly bedecked vehicles.
The authorities have launched several crackdowns over the past two decades, but the crime has persisted. Since a renewed effort began in 2009, more than 54,000 children have been rescued and 11,000 trafficking gangs “smashed”, Xinhua, the state news-agency, reported in December. Officials claim the problem has become less rampant.

Given the patchiness of official data, this is hard to prove. Individual cases of abduction are rarely reported by the state-controlled media. But Deng Fei, a Beijing-based journalist and prominent campaigner on behalf of victims and their families, believes the number of children being abducted is falling. Mr Xiao estimates that the price of abducted boys has risen in recent years from around 40,000 yuan to about 90,000, perhaps because the supply of abducted children has been affected by the police crackdown.

Social media may also have played a role. In recent years, parents and activists have been using websites and microblogs to share information about cases and draw public attention to child abduction. Their efforts have put pressure on the police, who have responded (unusually, given their suspicion of internet activism) by using the internet themselves to contact the families of victims.

The police official in charge of anti-trafficking, Chen Shiqu, has an account on Sina Weibo, one of China’s most popular microblog services. Its main page shows a cartoon drawing of him, cuddling a rescued baby. “Have mobilised to verify”, he wrote on January 23rd in response to a message from another microblogger about a missing child. His account has 3.4m followers. Mr Deng, the journalist, has 2.8m people who follow his microblog, which he uses to help return rescued children to their parents. An account on Sina Weibo run by Baobei Huijia (Baby Come Home), an activist network based in north-eastern China, has nearly 140,000 followers. Mr Chen, the policeman, is a keen follower of the activists’ work, say the Chinese media. Zhang Zhiwei, a lawyer who helps Baobei Huijia, says the public security ministry has encouraged police to join internet groups that discuss child abductions and engage with members openly. This is a novelty for the publicity-shy police. China Youth Daily, a Beijing newspaper, reported that Mr Chen began his online outreach under the pseudonym “Volunteer 007”, but his mastery of the subject had soon led to his identity being revealed.

Mr Xiao, the parent, believes the authorities could be doing a lot more. Buyers of abducted children still often get away without punishment—they usually live in villages and sometimes enjoy protection from local officials. He says orphanages sometimes fail to take DNA from children they receive. This can be used to look for matches with DNA records held by anti-trafficking police. The absence of such checks allows traffickers to sell children to orphanages, which can then offer them for adoption at high fees. ( )

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