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the Peace Farm

December 2003

In the summer of 2002, Jay Bookman, columnist and deputy editorial page editor for the Atlanta Journal- Constitution, said on a PBS Newshour with Jim Lehrer:

I think it's important to note that what's happening in the world right now is that we are coming to grips, I think, for the first time with the idea that we are an empire, that America is unchallenged in any sphere of influence in the world.

What we are in the process of defining is how we govern that empire as a nation, and I think it's... if we engage in a cold- blooded invasion of another country, unprovoked, that... it will seta model for how we act as an empire in the future. So I think there's a lot here at stake, not just the fate of Saddam Hussein and Iraq in this particular thing. We are deciding what kind of nation we are and how we're going to rule this empire that has come to us.

The war and its aftermath, and its consequences for civil liberties for both citizens and immigrants, have given us many occasions in 2003 to reflect on this question, often with uncomfortable answers. The new year, 2004, may give us opportunities to look at the direction this empire has taken, and make corrections more in line with our historic national values. May it also bring us the wisdom and courage necessary for that task.

Nuclear Weapons Update

New nuclear weapons development sought by the Bush Administration was slowed, but by no means halted, by Congressional action this fall. One disappointment was the repeal of a prohibition on research and development of "mini-nukes." Engineering development of mini-nukes and bunker busters will require Congressional authorization, but research will go forward. However, the budget was cut from $15 million to $7.5 million for the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator, and there are restrictions on the funding of "advanced concepts," though the total requested amount was funded.

Of special interest to us near Pantex, the budget for the Modern Pit Facility, which will allow the U.S. to make new plutonium pits for nuclear weapons in quantity, was cut from $22.8 million to $10.8 million. It is uncertain what impact this will have on development of the facility, and the site decision (Pantex is one of five under consideration) in still expected in the spring.

Pantex Update

Disassembly of one of the last nuclear weapons slated for disassembly was completed at Pantex this fall, and it's uncertain whether any disassembly is currently underway. Pit repackaging continues, as well as work under the Stockpile Life Extension Program, a program that includes upgrades and modifications to several types of weapons. This work is also underway at Oak Ridge, TN.

The environmental restoration program at Pantex has come under a Compliance Plan with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The compliance plan establishes a timeline for completing site investigations and moving toward final remediation of some contamination, including groundwater.

Peace Farm Update

A financial crisis at the Peace Farm this summer provided a humbling experience. As director, I was humbled by the generosity of some of our donors responding to this need, the generosity of time and energy of old friends in developing solutions, and the generosity of board members with both resources and skills to establish stability and a sound organizational structure. The willingness of Bishop L.T. Matthiesen, retired, to assume presidency of the board has been a blessing, and other board members have worked closely with him to implement development plans. We are now seeking to expand the board, with confidence that we can move into the coming years with stability and opportunities for organizational and program growth. We hope you will add your commitment to a more peaceful world, a world free of nuclear weapons, and a country that reflects a commitment to liberty and self determination at home and abroad, to ours as we move into 2004.


Thank you for your continuing support of our work.

Mavis Belisle

For the staff and board of the Peace Farm

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In the depth of winter,
I finally learned
that there was within me
an invincible summer.

-Albert Camus