Tuesday, June 29, 2010

MI5: Russian Spies Interested in the U.K's Energy policies and New Technologies

"Russia is interested in particular in the energy policies of the west, given the importance of its own oil and natural gas reserves, and the Kremlin's determination to use them as an instrument of foreign policy, [counter-intelligence] officials said. Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president, is a former chairman of Gazprom, Russia's giant energy company"---The U.K. Guardian (6-29-10)

The Security Service (MI5) is responsible for protecting the United Kingdom against threats to national security. According to the MI5 site:

The threat of espionage (spying) did not end with the collapse of Soviet communism in the early 1990s. Espionage against UK interests continues from many quarters.

In the past, espionage activity was typically directed towards obtaining political and military intelligence. In today's high-tech world, the intelligence requirements of a number of countries now include new communications technologies, IT, genetics, aviation, lasers, optics, electronics and many other fields. Intelligence services, therefore, are targeting commercial enterprises far more than in the past.

The UK is a high priority espionage target and a number of countries are actively seeking UK information and material to advance their own military, technological, political and economic programmes.

We estimate that at least 20 foreign intelligence services are operating to some degree against UK interests. Of greatest concern are the Russians and Chinese. The number of Russian intelligence officers in London has not fallen since Soviet times.

The threat against UK interests is not confined to the UK itself. A foreign intelligence service operates best in its own country and some may therefore find it easier to target UK interests at home, where they can control the environment and where we may let our guard drop.

The U.K. Guardian (6-29-10) reports that Russian spies focus on the U.K.'s energy policies as well as new technologies:

The uncovering of the spy ring in the US is unlikely to surprise MI5. In recent years the agency has been building up its counter-espionage arm against Russian and other foreign spies for the first time since the end of the cold war, according to counter-intelligence officials...

Russia is interested in particular in the energy policies of the west, given the importance of its own oil and natural gas reserves, and the Kremlin's determination to use them as an instrument of foreign policy, the officials said. Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president, is a former chairman of Gazprom, Russia's giant energy company...

MI5 says on its website: "We estimate that at least 20 foreign intelligence services are currently operating in the UK against UK interests. The Russian and Chinese intelligence services are particularly active, and currently present the greatest concern."
It adds: "The threat of espionage (spying) did not end with the collapse of Soviet communism in the early 1990s. Espionage against UK interests continues from many quarters."

"In the past, espionage activity was typically directed towards obtaining political and military intelligence. In today's high-tech world, the intelligence requirements of a number of countries now include new communications technologies, IT, genetics, aviation, lasers, optics, electronics and many other fields. Intelligence services, therefore, are targeting commercial enterprises far more than in the past".

MI5 continues: "The UK is a high priority espionage target and a number of countries are actively seeking UK information and material to advance their own military, technological, political and economic programmes."

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: FBI Rounds Up 11 Alleged Russian Spies

"Ten Alleged Secret Agents Arrested in the United States"---Department of Justice (6-28-10)

Complaint #1 (PDF)Complaint #2 (PDF)

The "spycraft" described in the complaints is colorfully depicted by the Washington Post's Jeff Stein at SpyTalk (6-28-10).

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is covering the arrest of the Russian spies. Most, if not all, of the spies appear to be Russian nationals who posed as middle-class married couples. Some of the alleged spies even had children who ranged in age from a new baby to teenagers. I wonder what will happen to the children.

According the Voice of America (6-29-10):

U.S. media reports say the suspects...held non-governmental jobs, some of them in policy think-tanks and universities.

See the RFE/RL details about the arrests ("U.S. Arrests 10 Alleged Russian Secret Agents") and the Russian reaction ("Russia Calls U.S. Spy Charges 'Baseless': Regrets 'Timing.'")

Also check out the RFE/RL blogs and the latest tweets---especially from Power Vertical blog---in the newsroom on the lower right of the RFE/RL main page. Power Vertical also has links to other Russia-watchers in a column on the right.

More later...

Kremlin's Spies Sought Connections with Think Tanks and Government Officials

"Ten Alleged Secret Agents Arrested in the United States"---Department of Justice (6-28-10)

Complaint #1 (PDF)Complaint #2 (PDF)

"FBI agents arrested 10 people on charges that they spent years in the United States as spies for Russia, taking on fake identities and trying to ferret out intelligence about U.S. policy and secrets by making connections to think tanks and government officials, the Justice Department said Monday."---(The Washington Post 6-29-10)

According to CNN on T.V., these arrests are the "tip of the iceberg," and more arrests may be made. The Kremlin's "spycraft" is colorfully described by the Washington Post's Jeff Stein at SpyTalk (6-28-10). So much for resetting the relationship with the Kremlin.

According the Voice of America (6-29-10):

U.S. media reports say the suspects...held non-governmental jobs, some of them in policy think-tanks and universities.

Most of the accused Russian agents posed as married couples, and media accounts report that some of the agents had children who ranged in ages from a new baby to teenagers. I wonder what will happen to the children.

The New York Times (6-29-10) reports:

[O]n Monday, federal prosecutors accused 11 people of being part of a Russian espionage ring, living under false names and deep cover in a patient scheme to penetrate what one coded message called American “policy making circles.”...

The documents detailed what the authorities called the “Illegals Program,” an ambitious, long-term effort by the S.V.R., one of the successors to the Soviet K.G.B., to plant Russian spies in the United States to gather information and recruit more agents...

But the charges did not include espionage, and it was unclear what secrets the suspected spy ring — which included five couples — actually managed to collect...

Neighbors in Montclair, N.J., of the couple who called themselves Richard and Cynthia Murphy were flabbergasted when a team of F.B.I. agents turned up Sunday night and led the couple away in handcuffs. One person who lives nearby called them “suburbia personified,” saying that they had asked people for advice about the local schools. Others worried about the Murphys’ elementary-age daughters.

Jessie Gugig, 15, said she could not believe the charges, especially against Mrs. Murphy.

“They couldn’t have been spies,” she said jokingly. “Look what she did with the hydrangeas.”

One of those charged, Vicky Pelaez, who was arrested in Yonkers with another defendant known as Juan Lazaro, is a Peruvian-born columnist for El Diario/La Prensa, one of the country’s best-known Spanish-language newspapers. They were among five defendants who appeared in court on Monday night and were ordered held without bail. Experts on Russian intelligence expressed astonishment at the scale, longevity and dedication of the program. They noted that Vladimir V. Putin, the Russian prime minister and former president and spy officer, had worked to restore the prestige and funding of Russian espionage after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the dark image of the K.G.B.

“The magnitude, and the fact that so many illegals were involved, was a shock to me,” said Oleg D. Kalugin, a former K.G.B. general who was a Soviet spy in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s under “legal” cover as a diplomat and Radio Moscow correspondent. “It’s a return to the old days, but even in the worst years of the cold war, I think there were no more than 10 illegals in the U.S., probably fewer.”

Mr. Kalugin, now an American citizen living outside Washington, said he was impressed with the F.B.I.’s penetration of the spy ring. The criminal complaints are packed with vivid details gathered in years of covert surveillance — including monitoring phones and e-mail, placing secret microphones in the suspected Russian agents’ homes and numerous surreptitious searches.

...The defendants were charged with conspiracy, not to commit espionage, but to fail to register as agents of a foreign government, which carries a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison; nine were also charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years. They are not accused of obtaining classified materials.

There were also hints that Russian spy bosses feared that their agents, ordered to go native in prosperous America, might be losing track of their official purpose.

In Montclair, when the Murphys wanted to buy a house under their names, “Moscow Center,” or “C.,” the S.V.R. headquarters, objected.

“We are under an impression that C. views our ownership of the house as a deviation from the original purpose of our mission here,” the New Jersey couple wrote in a coded message. “From our perspective purchase of the house was solely a natural progression of our prolonged stay here. It was a convenient way to solving the housing issue, plus ‘to do as the Romans do’ in a society that values home ownership.”...

The arrests made a splash in neighborhoods around the country, as F.B.I. teams spent all Sunday night hunting through houses and cars, shining flashlights and carting away evidence.

In Cambridge, Mass., the couple known as Donald Heathfield and Tracey Foley, who appeared to be in their 40s and had two teenage sons, lived in an apartment building on a residential street where some Harvard professors and students live. [See the full text.]

Sunday, June 27, 2010

José Manuel Prieto: "Reading Mandelstam on Stalin"

"The poem ["Epigram Against Stalin"] had cost Mandelstam his life; writing it was an act of incredible recklessness, bravery, or artistic integrity. In the years since, I’ve never stopped thinking about it, and one thought has never left me in peace: though I labored long and patiently over my translation, I wasn’t at all satisfied with the results...

Described by one critic as the sixteen lines of a death sentence, this is perhaps the twentieth century’s most important political poem, written by one of its greatest poets against the man who may well be said to have been the cruelest of its tyrants....

When Mandelstam is taken prisoner on the night of May 13, 1934, the NKVD does not yet have a definitive version of the poem. The presiding judge asks the poet to write out an authorized version of the poem for him and the poet obligingly does so....He wrote out the poem with the same pen the judge used to write the sentence that sealed his fate."---José Manuel Prieto (From pages 1 and 3, New York Review of Books, 6-10-10)


We live without feeling the country beneath our feet,
our words are inaudible from ten steps away.
Any conversation, however brief,
gravitates, gratingly, toward the Kremlin’s mountain man.
His greasy fingers are thick as worms,
his words weighty hammers slamming their target.
His cockroach moustache seems to snicker,
and the shafts of his high-topped boots gleam.
Amid a rabble of scrawny-necked chieftains,
he toys with the favors of such homunculi.
One hisses, the other mewls, one groans, the other weeps;
he prowls thunderously among them, showering them with scorn.
Forging decree after decree, like horseshoes,
he pitches one to the belly, another to the forehead,
a third to the eyebrow, a fourth in the eye.
Every execution is a carnival
that fills his broad Ossetian chest with delight.
—Translated by Esther Allen from José Manuel Prieto’s Spanish version---New York Review of Books (6-10-10)

In November 2008, I wrote a post about the famous Russian poet Osip Mandelstam titled "The Russian Poet Osip Mandelstam Punctures the Stalin Myth" that begins:

The Russian poet Osip Mandelstam is pictured above after his 1934 arrest by Stalin's NKVD for writing a biting epigram/suicide note that has become known as "The Stalin Epigram," an unflattering poem about Stalin and his literary syncophants. The poem has been characterized as "a 16-line death sentence."
In a facinating article about Mandelstam, Time (1-7-66) reports:
Mandelstam hated the Bolshevik tyranny from the day it took power, and with a crazy courage that still takes the breath away, he made his feelings known. One night he saw a secret-police official swilling vodka in a public house and drunkenly transcribing the names of political undesirables on a large stack of execution writs. Outraged, the pint-sized poet charged across the room, snatched up the warrants, ripped them to shreds and ran out into the night...
Mandelstam has always reminded me a bit of the wreckless Roman poet Ovid, who was exiled by Emperor Augustus to the Black Sea fishing village of Tomis (Constanţa, Romania), for what Ovid described as "a poem and a blunder":
Ovid's poetry had made him a leading figure in the social and literary circles at Rome, when in AD 8 he was suddenly banished by Augustus to Tǒmis on the western shore of the Black Sea and his books removed from the public libraries. (He suffered only relegatio, which meant that he retained his property and civic rights at Rome, not the more severe exsilium.) According to Ovid himself the grounds for this sentence were two, carmen and error, that is, a poem and a blunder; the poem was the Ars amatoria, published eight years before. The error, which Ovid refers to only obliquely, but insists was not scelus, ‘a crime’, was connected with the Julian family to which Augustus belonged; Ovid seems to have been present when something culpable was done, perhaps being involved in one of the adulteries of Augustus' granddaughter Julia, also banished in AD 8. The error must have provided the occasion for the emperor to satisfy his resentment at the poem, which ran counter to his moralistic legislation and had been published and won enormous success soon after Augustus discovered his daughter Julia (see (4)) to be a notorious adulteress (2 BC).
The exiled Ovid spent the rest of his life dreaming of returning to Rome. The opening lines of Ovid's five-book poem "Tristia" read:
You will go, my little book, without me to the city, but I don't envy you. Go on--go to the city forbidden to me--forbidden to your master.
Ovid is a writer's writer, and many great poets have studied his poetry. Even children read selections from Ovid's Metamorphoses such as "Daedalus" and Icarus" and "Pyramus and Thisbe." Mandelstam, who undoubtedly sought to emulate the words and deeds of the Roman poet Ovid, also composed a 1918 poem titled "Tristia." (Scroll down to read a translation of Mandelstam's "Tristia" in English or the original in Russian.) But Ovid, unlike his disciple Mandelstam, probably did not anticipate the tragic consequences of mocking the Emperor.
The New York Review of Books (6-10-10) has published an article by Jose Manuel Prieto titled "Reading Mandelstam on Stalin." Prieto recounts:
Mandelstam had recited the poem in private to Pasternak, always the more cautious and astute of the two (Pasternak would die in his bed, in the privileged writers’ villa of Peredelkino). His response was:
"What you have just recited to me bears no relationship whatsoever to literature or to poetry. This is not a literary achievement but a suicidal action of which I do not approve and which I do not wish to have any part in. You have not recited anything to me and I did not hear anything and I beg you not to recite this to anyone else ever."
Nevertheless, the poet did so, and on more than one occasion.
In The New York Review of Books (6-10-10) Prieto describes the difficulties of translating Mandelson's "Epigram Against Stalin":
In 1996, the Mexican historian Jean Meyer asked me to translate a poem by the Russian poet Osip Mandelstam (born in Warsaw in 1891; died in the Vtoraya Rechka transit camp, near Vladivostok, in 1938). The poem was the celebrated “Epigram Against Stalin,” which begins with the line “My zhivem pod soboiu ne chuia strany” (“We live without feeling the country beneath our feet”). In 1980, I’d moved from Havana, my birthplace, to Siberia to study engineering at the University of Novosibirsk, and like anyone else who lived in Russia through the end of the 1980s and beginning of the 1990s, I knew the poem well. I had often recited it aloud in admiration of its formal qualities, in particular that first line, whose words have an almost magical force.

No version of the poem then existed in Spanish; the French translation that had just appeared in Vitaly Shentalinsky’s La parole ressuscitée made so impoverished a contrast to the extraordinary beauty of the original that I immediately began translating a more satisfactory variant, trying to capture the poem’s charm while preserving its severe gravity. I worked on it for several days and came up with a translation that Jean Meyer included in his history of Russia and its empires, and that I posted on the wall over my desk.

The poem had cost Mandelstam his life; writing it was an act of incredible recklessness, bravery, or artistic integrity. In the years since, I’ve never stopped thinking about it, and one thought has never left me in peace: though I labored long and patiently over my translation, I wasn’t at all satisfied with the results. The poem simply would not take; the translation felt like a pallid copy of the original Russian, which is as beautiful and powerful as if it had been carved in stone. Unlike the work of Joseph Brodsky, whom I’ve also translated extensively, Osip Mandelstam’s poetry is amazingly concentrated and not particularly discursive. It was virtually impossible to translate its sonorities, or the richness of many images that don’t come through or resonate in the target language—in my case, Spanish. As the poem moves from one language into another, the aura of meaning and allusion that was absolutely transparent to the Russian listeners is lost. It’s as if the poem were a tree and we could only manage to transplant its trunk and thickest limbs, while leaving all its green and shimmering foliage in the territory of the other language.

In any case, my translation of Mandelstam’s poem was well received. Years passed without my looking at the translation again until recently, when I had the idea of including it in a personal anthology of Russian poetry I’m working on. After an attentive rereading I didn’t think it was possible to change any of the solutions that in their moment I had hit upon, but I decided it would be fitting to add some commentary, as another way of transmitting that halo of meaning.

In Russia, the poem is known as the “Epigram Against Stalin,” a title some consider inadequate and belittling. Others say the title resulted from a maneuver by Mandelstam’s friends (among them Boris Pasternak) to make the poem seem nothing more than a kind of pithy, off-the-cuff quip meant to sting or satirize, in the genre that found its highest expression in Martial, the Latin poet of the first century AD.

Described by one critic as the sixteen lines of a death sentence, this is perhaps the twentieth century’s most important political poem, written by one of its greatest poets against the man who may well be said to have been the cruelest of its tyrants.

Мы живем, под собою не чуя cтраны,

Наши речи за десять шагов не слышны,
А где хватит на полразговорца,
Там припомнят кремлёвского горца.
Его толстые пальцы, как черви, жирны,
А слова, как пудовые гири, верны,
Тараканьи смеются усища,
И сияют его голенища.

А вокруг него сброд тонкошеих воҗдей,
Он играет услугами полулюдей.
Кто свистит, кто мяучит, кто хнычет,
Он один лишь бабачит и тычет,
Как подкову, кует за указом указ:
Кому в пах, кому в лоб, кому в бровь, кому в глаз.

Что ни казнь у него—то малина
И широкая грудь осетина.

[Read the whole article. More later, perhaps.]

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Nikita Khrushchev Denounces Stalin's Paranoid Persecution of Doctors in his "Secret Speech" to the 20th Congress of the Communist Party

This January 1953 cartoon from the Soviet humor magazine Krokodil (Crocodile) shows a doctor being unmasked as a poisoner of the Soviet political and military leadership. Money from foreign intelligence agencies is falling out of the doctor's pocket.

On January 13, 1953, near the end of Stalin's rule, an infamous article appeared in Pravda titled "Vicious Spies and Killers under the Mask of Academic Physicians" (1-13-53). This article marks the beginning of the aborted Soviet purge known as the "Doctors' Plot." (See also Time, 4-13-53.)

According to this conspiracy theory, "killer doctors" (often Jews) had "dishonored the holy banner of science" by using their scientific expertise in an attempt to exterminate the Soviet leadership. Today, people laugh at this canard, which is so reminiscent of the medieval anti-Semitic libel about Jews poisoning the Christians' wells; but this Stalinist canard is not so different from the vicious canard known as "Climategate," which professional global warming denialists are spreading in order to discredit and persecute allegedly dishonest and meretricious climate scientists.

The denialist conspiracy theories are spread by organizations and individuals such as Pravda, Russia Today, Fox News, Senator James Inhofe, Inhofe's former aid Marc Morano, Putin's former Advisor Andrei Illarionov (on the Libertarian CATO Institute site), Lord Monckton (on the Science and Public Policy site), The Heartland Institute, Virginia's Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, and even some some 9-11 Truth Movement sites.

The Stalin-era canard about the killer-doctors who allegedly plotted against the leadership of the Soviet Union was discredited a few months later in the Soviet media when Stalin died and again in 1956 by Nikita Khrushchev in his "secret" Speech to 20th Congress of the C.P.S.U. (February 24-25, 1956). Khrushchev was in a power struggle for control of the Communist Party, and the admissions in his famous "secret" speech were a way of compromising his political enemies.

Khrushchev was probably not being very sincere when he claimed that Stalin's secret police henchman Lavrenty Beria was an agent of a foreign intelligence agency; never-the-less, Khrushchev did admit that the regime had fabricated the doctors' plot out of thin air.

Khrushchev stated:

Let us also recall the “affair of the doctor-plotters.”

(Animation in the hall.)

Actually there was no “affair” outside of the declaration of the woman doctor [Lidiya] Timashuk [more here], who was probably influenced or ordered by someone (after all, she was an unofficial collaborator of the organs of state security) to write Stalin a letter in which she declared that doctors were applying supposedly improper methods of medical treatment.

Such a letter was sufficient for Stalin to reach an immediate conclusion that there are doctor-plotters in the Soviet Union. He issued orders to arrest a group of eminent Soviet medical specialists. He personally issued advice on the conduct of the investigation and the method of interrogation of the arrested persons. He said that academician [V. N. ] Vinogradov should be put in chains, and that another one [of the alleged plotters] should be beaten. The former Minister of State Security, comrade [Semyen] Ignatiev [the fall guy], is present at this Congress as a delegate. Stalin told him curtly, “If you do not obtain confessions from the doctors we will shorten you by a head.”

(Tumult in the hall.)

Stalin personally called the investigative judge, gave him instructions, and advised him on which investigative methods should be used. These methods were simple – beat, beat and, beat again.

Shortly after the doctors were arrested, we members of the Politbiuro received protocols with the doctors’ confessions of guilt. After distributing these protocols, Stalin told us, “You are blind like young kittens. What will happen without me? The country will perish because you do not know how to recognize enemies.”

The case was presented so that no one could verify the facts on which the investigation was based. There was no possibility of trying to verify facts by contacting those who had made the confessions of guilt.

We felt, however, that the case of the arrested doctors was questionable. We knew some of these people personally because they had once treated us. When we examined this “case” after Stalin’s death, we found it to have been fabricated from beginning to end.

This ignominious “case” was set up by Stalin. He did not, however, have the time in which to bring it to an end (as he conceived that end), and for this reason the doctors are still alive. All of them have been rehabilitated. They are working in the same places they were working before. They are treating top individuals, not excluding members of the Government. They have our full confidence; and they execute their duties honestly, as they did before.

In putting together various dirty and shameful cases, a very base role was played by a rabid enemy of our Party, an agent of a foreign intelligence service – Beria, who had stolen into Stalin’s confidence. How could this provocateur have gained such a position in the Party and in the state, so as to become the First Deputy Chair of the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union and a Politbiuro member? It has now been established that this villain climbed up the Government ladder over an untold number of corpses.

Time (4-13-53) describes the fate that befell the unfortunate Dr. Lidiya Timachuk after Stalin died and the party line changed:

Lidiya Timashuk was decorated last January with the Order of Lenin, the Soviet Union's top order, "for exposing the doctor assassins." "She fought," said Pravda, "as one fights with enemies of the homeland—a life and death struggle." Last week Dr. Timashuk was stripped of her decoration because the information she gave had not accorded with "the actual state of affairs." (See page 3.)

Stalin's Last Crime (2003) by Vladimir P. Naumov, a Russian historian, and Jonathan Brent, a Yale University Soviet scholar, tells the story of the Doctors' Plot and also provides new evidence for the old story that Stalin was poisoned. According to a review of the book in The New York Times (3-5-03):

Fifty years after Stalin died, felled by a brain hemorrhage at his dacha, an exhaustive study of long-secret Soviet records lends new weight to an old theory that he was actually poisoned, perhaps to avert a looming war with the United States.

That war may well have been closer than anyone outside the Kremlin suspected at the time, say the authors of a new book based on the records.

The 402-page book, Stalin's Last Crime, will be published later this month. Relying on a previously secret account by doctors of Stalin's final days, its authors suggest that he may have been poisoned with warfarin, a tasteless and colorless blood thinner also used as a rat killer, during a final dinner with four members of his Politburo...

Four Politburo members were at that dinner: Lavrenti P. Beria, then chief of the secret police; Georgi M. Malenkov, Stalin's immediate successor; Nikita S. Khrushchev, who eventually rose to the top spot; and Nikolai Bulganin...

Mr. Brent and Mr. Naumov, the secretary of a Russian government commission to rehabilitate victims of repression, have spent years in the archives of the K.G.B. and other Soviet organizations.

Russian officials granted them access to some documents for their latest work, which primarily traces the fabulous course of the Doctors' Plot, a supposed collusion in the late 1940's by Kremlin doctors to kill top Communist leaders.

The collusion was in fact a fabrication by Kremlin officials, acting largely on Stalin's orders. By the time Stalin disclosed the plot to a stunned Soviet populace in January 1953, he had spun it into a vast conspiracy, led by Jews under the United States' secret direction, to kill him and destroy the Soviet Union itself.

That February, the Kremlin ordered the construction of four giant prison camps in Kazakhstan, Siberia and the Arctic north, apparently in preparation for a second great terror -- this time directed at the millions of Soviet citizens of Jewish descent.

But the terror never unfolded. On March 1, 1953, two weeks after the camps were ordered built and two weeks before the accused doctors were to go on trial, Stalin collapsed at Blizhnaya, a north Moscow dacha, after the all-night dinner with his four Politburo comrades.

After four days, Stalin died, at age 73. Death was laid to a hemorrhage on the left side of his brain.

Less than a month later, the doctors previously accused of trying to kill him were abruptly exonerated and the case against them was deemed an invention of the secret police. No Jews were deported east. By year's end, Beria faced a firing squad, and Khrushchev had tempered Soviet hostility toward the United States.

In their book, Mr. Naumov and Mr. Brent cite wildly varying accounts of Stalin's last hours as evidence that -- at the least -- Stalin's Politburo colleagues denied him medical help in the first hours of his illness, when it might have been effective.

Khrushchev and others recalled long after Stalin's death that they had dined with him until the early hours of March 1. His and most other reports state that Stalin was later found sprawled unconscious on the floor, a copy of Pravda nearby.

Yet no doctors were summoned to the dacha until the morning of March 2. Why remains a mystery: one guard later said that Beria had called shortly after Stalin was found, ordering them to say nothing about his illness.

Khrushchev wrote that Stalin had been drunk at the dinner and that his dinner companions, told of his illness, presumed that he had fallen out of bed -- until it became clear things were more serious.

More telling, however, is the official medical account of Stalin's death, given to the Communist Party Central Committee in June 1953 and buried in files for almost the next 50 years until unearthed by Mr. Naumov and Mr. Brent. It maintained that Stalin had become ill in the early hours of March 2, a full day after he actually suffered a stroke.

The effect of the altered official report is to imply that doctors were summoned quickly after Stalin was found, rather than after a delay.

The authors state that a cerebral hemorrhage is still the most straightforward explanation for Stalin's death, and that poisoning remains for now a matter of speculation. But Western physicians who examined the Soviet doctors' official account of Stalin's last days said similar physical effects could have been produced by a 5-to-10-day dose of warfarin, which had been patented in 1950 and was being aggressively marketed worldwide at the time.

[The blood-thinner marketed as Coumadin is actually Warfarin. According to National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), "Warfarin may cause severe bleeding that can be life-threatening and even cause death."]

Why Stalin might have been killed is a less difficult question. Politburo members lived in fear of Stalin; beyond that, the book cites a previously secret report as evidence that Stalin was preparing to add a new dimension to the alleged American conspiracy known as the Doctors' Plot.

That report -- an interrogation of a supposed American agent named Ivan I. Varfolomeyev [see more here], in 1951 -- indicated that the Kremlin was preparing to accuse the United States of a plot to destroy much of Moscow with a new nuclear weapon, then to launch an invasion of Soviet territory along the Chinese border.

Mr. Varfolomeyev's fantastic plot was known in Soviet documents as ''the plan of the internal blow.'' Stalin, the book states, had assigned the Varfolomeyev case highest priority, and was preparing to proceed with a public trial despite his underlings' fears that the charges were so unbelievable that they would make the Kremlin a global laughingstock.

Mr. Naumov said in an interview today that that plan, combined with other Soviet military preparations in the Russian Far East at the time, strongly suggest that Stalin was preparing for a war along the United States' Pacific Coast. What remains unclear, he said, is whether he planned a first strike or whether the mushrooming conspiracy unfolding in Moscow was to serve as a provocation that would lead both sides to a flash point.

''I am told that the only case when the two sides were on the verge of war was the Cuban crisis,'' in 1962, he said. ''But I think this was the first case. And this first time that we were on the verge of war was even more dangerous,'' because the devastation of nuclear weapons was not yet an article of faith.

Mr. Brent said he believes that fear of a nuclear holocaust could have led Beria and perhaps others at that final dinner to assent to Stalin's death.

''No question -- they were afraid,'' he said. ''But they knew that the direction Stalin was going in was one of fiercer and fiercer conflict with the U.S. This is what Khrushchev saw, and it is what Beria saw. And it scared them to death.''

The authors say that Stalin knew of his comrades' fears, citing as proof remarks at a December 1952 meeting of top Communist leaders in which Stalin began laying out the scope of the Doctors' Plot and the American threat to Soviet power.

''Here, look at you -- blind men, kittens,'' the minutes record Stalin as saying. ''You don't see the enemy. What will you do without me?''

Friday, June 25, 2010

George Monbiot Attacks, Delingpole Spins!

He's my God! I just can't get enough of George Monbiot eating the global warming denialists for lunch! It's like watching the orcas washing the baby seal off an iceberg or watching them play tennis with a sea lion pup. I can almost see James Delingpole spinning backwards through the air, higher than the gulls, helplessly spraying epithets in every direction, before disappearing into the maw of Monbiot.

Cloud Whitening: "Bill Gates Pays for ‘Artificial’ Clouds to Beat Greenhouse Gases

"Silver Lining [here], a research body in San Francisco, has received $300,000 (£204,000) from Mr Gates. It will develop machines to convert seawater into microscopic particles capable of being blown up to the cloud level of 1,000 metres. This would whiten clouds by increasing the number of nuclei."---U.K. Sunday Times (5-8-10)

Wikipedia explains:

Cloud reflectivity enhancement is also known as 'marine cloud brightening' or 'cloud whitening' on low cloud. An opposite scheme exists to reduce the reflectivity of higher, colder cirrus clouds.[1] It is a geoengineering technique that works by solar radiation management. By modifying the reflectivity of clouds, the albedo of the Earth is altered. The intention is that this technique, in combination with greenhouse gas emissions reduction (and possibly other geoengineering techniques) will be sufficient to control global warming. Compared to other climate modification strategies, this technique is relatively simple and benign, being based as it is on natural processes of 'ocean spray'. It can therefore be deployed quickly for further research, and can then be rolled out on an effective scale relatively cheaply after that. The effect is expected to be fully reversible, as the cloud condensation nuclei particles precipitate naturally. However, like any planetary-scale project dealing with the complex climate system, there is a non-trivial risk of unintended consequences.

The U.K. Sunday Times (5-8-10) reports:

The first trials of controversial sunshielding technology are being planned after the United Nations failed to secure agreement on cutting greenhouse gases.

Bill Gates, the Microsoft billionaire, is funding research into machines to suck up ten tonnes of seawater every second and spray it upwards. This would seed vast banks of white clouds to reflect the Sun’s rays away from Earth.

...a study last year calculated that a fleet of 1,900 ships costing £5 billion could arrest the rise in temperature by criss-crossing the oceans and spraying seawater from tall funnels to whiten clouds and increase their reflectivity.

Silver Lining [here], a research body in San Francisco, has received $300,000 (£204,000) from Mr Gates. It will develop machines to convert seawater into microscopic particles capable of being blown up to the cloud level of 1,000 metres. This would whiten clouds by increasing the number of nuclei.

The trial would involve ten ships and 10,000sq km (3,800sq miles) of ocean. Armand Neukermanns, who is leading the research, said that whitening clouds was “the most benign form of engineering” because, while it might alter rainfall, the effects would cease soon after the machines were switched off...

Stephen Salter, Emeritus Professor of Engineering Design at the University of Edinburgh, said that there was no need to wait for regulations because the trials would not add chemicals to the atmosphere. But Sir David King, former chief scientific adviser to the Government, said that experiments with potential consequences beyond national borders needed international regulations. He told The Times: “I do not see any geoengineering solution which does not have unintended consequences or is not far too expensive.”

Cloud Whitening sounds like a really great idea, but Mike Hulme a professor of climate change in the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia explains some of the difficulties that may arise when mankind attempts to geoengineer the climate in Yale Environment 360 (6-7-10):

[C]arrying out geoengineering plans could prove daunting, as conflicts erupt over the unintended regional consequences of climate intervention and over who is entitled to deploy climate-altering technologies...

How do we judge the risks of unintended consequences? And who is entitled to initiate the large-scale deployment of a climate intervention technology — and under what circumstances?

Proponents are suggesting two broad categories of technologies to roll back global warming. The first, solar radiation management (SRM), calls for altering the solar radiation budget of the planet, using such technologies as mirrors in space, aerosols in the stratosphere, and cloud whitening over the oceans. And then there are technologies, grouped under the category of carbon dioxide removal (CDR), that propose to accelerate the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by fertilizing the oceans with iron, extracting CO2 from the atmosphere, or sequestering CO2 by heating biomass in oxygen-free kilns and burying the charcoal underground.

Such interventions would bring about, if not exactly artificial climates, then certainly synthetic ones...

[C]limate intervention technologies raise serious ethical questions about the propriety of such manipulations, about their accordance with the collective will of people on Earth, and about the unforeseen side effects of such interventions. But the proposition of creating synthetic climates through solar radiation management (less so with carbon dioxide removal) introduces a range of additional concerns not shared with microscopic cellular manipulation. These concerns arise from the brute fact that there is only one climate system with which to experiment, and it is the one we live with. If it is planetary-scale manipulation of climate that is desired — and it is — then experimentation has to be conducted on a planetary scale to prove the effectiveness — or not — of the technology.

The first concern is the risk of unintended consequences. Given that it is not possible to conduct large-scale planetary experiments in solar radiation management before going “live” with the technology, risk assessments have to fall back on using virtual climates generated by computer models. The Earth system models currently used to explore the possible future effects of rising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases are the same ones that have to be used to explore the simulated consequences of a variety of solar radiation interventions.

Using aerosols to offset the additional planetary heating caused by greenhouse gases is a relatively straightforward theoretical calculation; it is a case of simple planetary budgeting. Much harder is to know what this “re-balancing” of the global heat budget will do to atmospheric and ocean dynamics around the world. These are the dynamics that make weather happen at particular times and in particular places and which — through various combinations of rain, wind, temperature, and humidity — shape ecological processes and human social practices. The dangers and opportunities associated with climate occur through these local weather phenomena, not through an abstract index of global temperature.

If the goal of climate engineering is simply to reset the global temperature dial at its 19th or late-20th century register, that might be possible to do. But in the process of doing so, significant perturbations to regional climate conditions, and inter-annual variability around those conditions, are likely to be introduced. Even if changes in the frequency and intensity of storms and precipitation were to be a zero-sum game globally, the distributional effects of such changes will create winners and losers. [Read all of this thoughtful article.]

Deep Water Horizon Oil Slick Will Probably Carry Oil Along the Atlantic Coast

This map is a still shot from an animated computer model that predicts the trajectory of the Deep Water Horizon Gulf oil slick after 130 days.--University Corporation for Atmospheric Research *(UCAR), "Ocean currents likely to carry oil along Atlantic coast" (6-3-10)

UCAR (6-3-10) reports:

BOULDER—A detailed computer modeling study released today indicates that oil from the massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico might soon extend along thousands of miles of the Atlantic coast and open ocean as early as this summer. The modeling results are captured in a series of dramatic animations produced by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and collaborators. (Read the full text and see the videos.)

* The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) manages the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) under sponsorship by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Is Jonathan Leake the Whipping Boy for the "Princes" at the U.K. Times?

"The [Press Complaints] commission is notoriously reluctant to rule against a newspaper, but [Dr. Simon] Lewis's submission [here] was incontestable. To avoid an adverse ruling, the Sunday Times had no option but to publish a total retraction of its story, on page 2 of last Sunday's edition. In doing so it was obliged to admit that the paper's account – and by inference [Richard] North's almost identical treatment – was rubbish from top to toe. The deniers' greatest triumph has turned into a total rout.

But the interesting question is how the Sunday Times messed up so badly. I spent much of yesterday trying to get some sense out of the paper, without success. But after 25 years in journalism it looks pretty obvious to me that Jonathan Leake has been wrongly blamed for this, then hung out to dry. My guess is that someone else at the paper, acting on instructions from an editor, got hold of Leake's copy after he had submitted it, and rewrote it, drawing on North's post, to produce a different – and more newsworthy – story. If this is correct, it suggests that Leake is carrying the can for an editor's decision. The Sunday Times has made no public attempt to protect him: it looks to me like corporate cowardice."--George Monbiot for the U.K. Guardian (6-24-10)

The wonderful George Monbiot, a journalist for the U.K. Guardian (6-24-10), describes the events that caused the U.K. Times to retract its false story about the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Monbiot thinks that Jonathan Leake, the "author" of the Times story, may be the "whipping boy" for some prince at the Times. He also describes how the global warming denialists are being hoist on their own petards.

George Monbiot eats the denialists' lunch with some fava beans and a nice chianti in the U.K. Guardian (6-24-10):

It's a distressing sight but we'll have to get used to it: most of the world's prominent climate change deniers skewered on their own sword.

The weapon which has turned so cruelly against them is the revelation, paraded in triumph by the egregious fabulist Richard North in January, that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had "grossly exaggerated the effects of global warming on the Amazon rainforest...

Other deniers, being the herd animals we know and love, leapt on his claims and bore them off, cackling with delight, without apparently pausing for a moment to check them.

In the Telegraph, James Delingpole, who seldom misses an opportunity to make an idiot of himself, announced that these revelations meant:

"AGW [anthropogenic global warming] theory is toast. So's Dr Rajendra Pachauri. So's the Stern review. So's the credibility of the IPCC."

In reality, as we will see, it's Delingpole's beliefs on climate change that the story has reduced to toast.

Like the hundreds of others who fell head first into this trap, he should have been more cautious. Richard North is our old friend Christopher Booker's long-term collaborator, and between them they are responsible for more misinformation than any other living journalists. You could write a book about the stories they have concocted, almost all of which fall apart on the briefest examination.This one was no exception (Read the whole delicious skewering!)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Down with the Political Gangster Ken Cuccinelli!

“Given the lack of any evidence of wrongdoing, it's hard to see Cuccinelli's subpoena — and similar threats of legal action against climate scientists in a February report by climate-change denier Senator James Inhofe (Republican, Oklahoma) — as anything more than an idealogically motivated inquisition that harasses and intimidates climate scientists.”---Nature (5-13-10)

This is a picture of the great Virginia statesman and President Thomas Jefferson. He took a great deal of interest in developing democracy, science, and education. He founded the University of Virginia.

These days, Virginians have Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, and he is no Thomas Jefferson. Attorney General Cuccinelli is a vindictive demagogue who doesn't understand the first thing about democracy, science, or education. He is persecuting the famous climate scientist Michael Mann by fabricating fraud charges against him. He hopes to intimidate scholars at the University of Virginia so they won't research climate science, but what will happen to our country and to the whole world if America's great scientists are not free to help mankind meet the challenges of global warming?

For 40 years I voted Republican; but when the "Climategate" story broke, I began to realize that my party's powerful politicians and their fossil fuel sponsors were trying to confuse me and lie to me about the science of global warming. It struck me that although Cuccinelli was persecuting Michael Mann for his alleged frauds, Virginia's hightest justice official didn't seem concerned that this "Climategate" story had been provoked by the theft of emails from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in the U.K.

Bloggers bullied me and demanded that I make my judgments about these "corrupt" climate scientists from stolen emails that lacked context, but I decided to look at what the scientists were saying about global warming in their peer-reviewed research, instead. Why should I be like Attorney General Cucchinelli and take the word of annonymous thieves who hypocritically call themselves "honest men"?

The bloggers demanded that I read a stupid article about "Climategate" penned by an Australian named John Costella. This guy is a professional conspiracist and a 9-11 Truther who believes that President Bush "masterminded" the 9-11 attacks!

John Costella co-authors a website called "Assassination Science." What kind of "science" is assassination science? I think it's the science of assassinating people's reputations. Costella seems to be very involved in an Australian political party called the Climate Skeptics Party. One of the recommended readings of the Climate Skeptics party is "Truther" Costella's book on "Climategate." Give me a break!

One thing I noticed from reading about "Climategate" is that global warming denialists often lie about what the scientists actually say. This is because the denialists can't argue with the scientific research. The denialists argue like the discredited Colorado ex-professor Ward Churchill. They mischaracterize their opponents' research in order to fabricate the appearance of evidence for their pseudoscientific denialist ideology.

The denialists often accuse the global warming scientists of being part of some "commie" conspiracy; but really, Cuccinelli is the political thug. His judicial persecution of Michael Mann reminds me of the tactics of "scientific" Marxist-Leninist politicians---assassination "science."

How ashamed I am that I voted the Republican ticket! How I wish I could take back my vote! I helped put a real goon in power who is abusing his office by fabricating criminal charges against Dr. Michael Mann, great scientist whose discoveries are not in the interests of Cuccinelli's supporters: mouthpieces for the fossil fuel interests who do not want our government to craft policies that will help our people develop new energy sources.

I believe the scientists who are telling us about global warming, not the denialists who steal and show contempt for me by telling me big lies.

Denialists scream that they are being "blacklisted" while the scientist Michael Mann is being persecuted on fabricated fraud charges! What hypocrites! Attorney General Cuccinelli is a political gangster. I voted for him, but I won't make that mistake again. I am standing up for the climate scientists, not their oppressors who believe in assassination "science"!

The Washington Post has published an article about Attorney General Cuccinelli's attempt to repress the scientist Michael Mann titled "Judge stays Cuccinelli's U-Va. climate change subpoena, sets Aug. 20 court date" (6-22-10):

An Albermarle County judge has stayed Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's civil investigative demand to the University of Virginia for documents related to a former university climate scientist, pending the outcome of a legal challenge to the request.

The university faced a July 26 deadline for complying with the subpoena but Circuit Court Judge Cheryl V. Higgins stayed the demand after the university petitioned the judge asking her to set Cuccinelli's inquiry aside. Cuccinelli has said he is investigating whether former university professor Michael Mann committed fraud when he sought and spent five public grants for his research. The university is resisting the request, arguing that Cuccinelli is intruding on Mann's academic freedom.

Such a stay is common practice and was formalized as part of a scheduling order that has been in the works for some time (the judge seems to have signed it June 10) but has been circulated to lawyers just this week. The order, agreed to by both sides, also sets a schedule for the circuit court's consideration of the university's petition, culminating in the courtroom showdown of oral arguments on Aug. 20.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: "Expert Credibility in Climate Change"

"The Albert Einstein Memorial is a monumental bronze statue depicting Albert Einstein seated with manuscript papers in hand. It is located in central Washington, D.C., United States, in a grove of trees at the southwest corner of the grounds of the National Academy of Sciences on Constitution Avenue, near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial."---Wikipedia

Today the BBC publishes an article titled "Study examines scientists' 'climate credibility'" (6-22-10). The article is a review of an article that has been published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences titled "Expert credibility in climate change." [This link may change because it is an early edition, so check the PNAS homepage if you can't access the article.]

Some global warming denialists who do not accept the scientific consensus on man-made global warming are complaining that their denialist perspective isn't getting a fair hearing in the professional literature, but the BBC (6-22-10) article cites a study that points out that the denialists really aren't competent experts in the field of climate science. My opinion is that peer-reviewed scientific literature belongs in the academic journals.

Pseudoscientific denialism, on the other hand, is an ideology like "scientific" Marxism-Leninism that seems to have found its nitch on conspiracist sites such as Marc Morano's blog, Senator Inhofe's site, the Russian tabloid Pravda, Russia Today T.V., the 9-11 Truth Movement blogs, and as the political platform of Australia's Climate Skeptics Party. The denialists call themselves "skeptics," but they are obviously very gullible to be in such company.

The BBC (6-22-10) reports:

Some 98% of climate scientists that publish research on the subject support the view that human activities are warming the planet, a study suggests.

It added there was little disagreement among the most experienced scientists.

But climate sceptics questioned the findings, saying that publication in scientific journals was not a fair test of expertise.

The findings have been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study's authors said they found "immense" differences in both the expertise and scientific prominence of those who supported the "primary tenets" of latest assessments made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and those who were sceptical of the IPCC's findings.

In general, they added, the researchers who were convinced of the human impact on climate change had published twice as many papers as their sceptical counterparts, and were cited in other people's research two to three times more often.

Lead author William Anderegg, from Stanford University in California, US, said the findings suggested that not all experts were equal in what they claimed.

"The researchers who are convinced (by the IPCC's assessment reports) have a lot more experience in climate research and have published a lot more papers in the scientific literature and are generally well respected in their field," he said.

"And it also demonstrates the converse that those who are sceptical of the IPCC's claims, in general, know a lot less about the climate system"....

The researchers said they felt the need to carry out the survey because of the growing public perception that scientific opinion was divided on the issue following recent scandals, such as "climategate" at the UK's University of East Anglia and the use of non-peer reviewed literature in the IPCC findings.

"We really felt that the state of the scientific debate was so far removed from the state of the public discourse and we felt that a good quantitative, rigorous comparison of this would put to rest the notion that the scientists 'disagree' about global warming," Mr Anderegg told BBC News. [See full text.]

The PNAS article summarizes the findings of the research:

Although preliminary estimates from published literature and expert surveys suggest striking agreement among climate scientists on the tenets of anthropogenic climate change (ACC), the American public expresses substantial doubt about both the anthropogenic cause and the level of scientific agreement underpinning ACC. A broad analysis of the climate scientist community itself, the distribution of credibility of dissenting researchers relative to agreeing researchers, and the level of agreement among top climate experts has not been conducted and would inform future ACC discussions. Here, we use an extensive dataset of 1,372 climate researchers and their publication and citation data to show that (i) 97–98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field support the tenets of ACC outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and (ii) the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence of the researchers unconvinced of ACC are substantially below that of the convinced researchers. [Full text]

Monday, June 21, 2010

Global Warming Denialists in the Dunk Tank: "Now You Can Forget About Those Rising Seas"

In ancient times, kings often visited the Oracle of Apollo at the religious city of Delphi in Greece to seek advice. The ancients believed that the god Apollo, who always spoke the truth, answered his supplicants' questions through a medium called the Delphic Oracle, a simple woman who was often referred to as the Pythia. Some ancient accounts report that the Pythia's shrewdly-phrased predictions were interpreted by a priest. Unfortunately, Apollo's supplicants sometimes misunderstood the truth of the god:

"The Pythia was knowledgeable in many areas: history, religion, geography, politics, mathematics, philosophy, etc. She uttered advice on where and how to build cities, which laws to incorporate, and which prayers to utter. Her predictions were often very shrewdly phrased, which caused many supplicants to misinterpret the advice. The most famous instance of this comes down to us through a Delphic prediction given to Croesus, king of Lydia. In 550 BCE, Croesus was preparing to invade the Persian Empire when he consulted the Oracle about his chances for victory. After sacrificing 300 head of cattle to Apollo, he had gold and silver melted down into 117 bricks, which were sent to Delphi, along with jewels, statues, and a gold bowl weighing a quarter of a ton. With these gifts, Croesus sent his question of whether he should attack Persia.

The Pythia answered that, if he crossed a river, 'Croesus will destroy a great empire.' Encouraged by this response, he invaded Persia, only to suffer a decisive defeat. The Persians invaded and then conquered Lydia and captured Croesus, who thereafter bitterly denounced the Oracle. He sent his iron chains to Delphi with the question, 'Why did you lie to me?' The Pythia correctly answered that her prophecy had been fulfilled. Croesus had destroyed a great empire -- his own."--The Oracle at Delphi

The point of this ancient story is that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Often, like Croesus, when we don't know too much about a complex scientific subject such as global warming, we jump to false conclusions and go on the attack because we make foolish assumptions based on on partial or misleading information.

Propagandists have known how to trick people into jumping to false conclusions by feeding them partial information for thousands of years. Some writers have speculated that Delphi may have been a center for political intrigue and disinformation in classical times because the priests who interpreted the Oracle's prophesies could be bribed into feeding important supplicants misleading advice.

These days, some writers jump to false conclusions and end up in the global warming denialist dunk tank because they believe misleading headlines or the shrewd "oracles" of disingenuous conspiracists such as Senator Inhofe and his former aid Marc Morano, who mischaracterize what scientists actually say and spread vicious canards about the plots of crafty scientists who study global warming. If these dishonest politicians were college professors, they would probably be fired for research misconduct like the former University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill, who mischaracterized his sources.

Last February, a denialist blogger who had read a misleading newspaper headline crowed, "Now You Can Forget About Those Rising Seas" (2-21-10). The blogger had read a poorly-titled article in the Guardian (2-21-10) which reported that scholars had retracted an article that predicted that the sea level would rise as much as 82cm by the end of the century.

The blogger assumed that global warming was not really a problem because scientists were wrong about the seas rising. In fact, the scientists had withdrawn their article because an error they had made suggested that their prediction about rising seas was too conservative.

Skeptical Science explains:

The retracted paper actually predicts a low range of future sea level rise. The retraction removes a lower bound of sea level prediction. This increases confidence in other peer-reviewed research predicting sea level rise of 80cm to 2 metres by 2100.

The seas rise because of the thermal expansion of a warming ocean and because land ice flows into the ocean. Scientists predict that rising seas will flood coastal cities and low-lying areas. According to an article in Skeptical Science:

[W]e expect sea levels to rise up to 2 metres by 2100; they will continue to rise afterwards to at least 6 metres.

...Our children and grandchildren will see sea level rise of 1 to 2 metres in their lifetime.

Climate Denial Crock of the Week has an entertaining and informative video titled "Climate Change and Sea Level Rise."

NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) discusses the scientific findings about sea level rise in an article titled "Sea Level Rise, After the Ice Melted and Today" (January 2007):

Climate warming is expected to result in rising sea level. Should this occur, coastal cities, ports, and wetlands would be threatened with more frequent flooding, increased beach erosion, and saltwater encroachment into coastal streams and aquifers. Global sea level has fluctuated widely in the recent geologic past. It stood 4-6 meters above the present during the last interglacial period, 125,000 years ago, but was 120 m lower at the peak of the last ice age, around 20,000 years ago. A study of past sea level fluctuations provides a longer-term geologic context, which can help us better anticipate future trends....

Twentieth century sea level trends, however, are substantially higher that those of the last few thousand years. The current phase of accelerated sea level rise appears to have begun in the mid/late 19th century to early 20th century, based on coastal sediments from a number of localities. Twentieth century global sea level, as determined from tide gauges in coastal harbors, has been increasing by 1.7-1.8 mm/yr, apparently related to the recent climatic warming trend. Most of this rise comes from warming of the world's oceans and melting of mountain glaciers, which have receded dramatically in many places especially during the last few decades. Since 1993, an even higher sea level trend of about 2.8 mm/yr has been measured from the TOPEX/POSEIDON satellite altimeter. Analysis of longer tide-gauge records (1870-2004) also suggests a possible late 20th century acceleration in global sea level.

Recent observations of Greenland and the West Antarctic Ice Sheet raise concerns for the future. Satellites detect a thinning of parts of the Greenland Ice Sheet at lower elevations, and glaciers are disgorging ice into the ocean more rapidly, adding 0.23 to 0.57 mm/yr to the sea within the last decade. The West Antarctic Ice Sheet is also showing some signs of thinning. Either ice sheet, if melted completely, contains enough ice to raise sea level by 5-7 m. A global temperature rise of 2-5°C might destabilize Greenland irreversibly. Such a temperature rise lies within the range of several future climate projections for the 21st century. However, any significant meltdown would take many centuries. Furthermore, even with possible future accelerated discharge from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, it highly unlikely that annual rates of sea level rise would exceed those of the major post-glacial meltwater pulses.