As the Sun Sets on the Pitiful Remnants of What Was Once the British Empire . . .

         For a bit of comic relief — at least we’d like to think that that’s what it is — of Januray 14, 2009, reports that the enviromentalist organization Greenpeace has surreptitiously bought a plot of land, representing themselves as buying it to create a “donkey sanctuary.”  The British have a reputation for being eccentric, but a donkey sanctuary? That must set some sort of record even in old blighty.

        But why would those greenies do a silly thing like that? Well, according to CNN, they don’t actually intend to involve real donkeys in this caper, which came as a great relief to us. Rather, they mean to divide the land into itty bitty pieces and convey them to “supporters around the world” in order to stop the construction of a new runway at Heathrow Airport — the land in question is evidently located where the airport folks plan to put the new runway. Through this sophomoric caper the greenies intend to slow down the proposed construction, their motivation being that airplanes burn fuel and discharge carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and thus contribute to global warming. We find nothing in that CNN story about anybody over there worrying about the fact that when an airport is congested, incoming planes have to circle for a while, burning fuel and discharging carbon dioxide as they do that.

          Anyway,  haven’t these blokes heard of compulsory purchase? Evidently they have, but they believe that their caper will “slow down the planning process.”

          “Donkey sanctuary,” indeed.

FOLLOW UP. Undeterred by the aroused greenies, the British government has approved that runway. (Sarah Lyall, Third Runway Approved for Heathrow, Angering Critics, N.Y. Times, Jan. 16, 2008, at p. A11). But that’s not the end of the story. The, of January 16, 2009, reports that protesters of all sorts are threatening “direct action” intended to shut down Hathrow Airport. “A number of groups are planning a ‘flash mob’ when a group of people suddenly assembles in a public place, perform an unusual action and then quickly disperse. The activists will arrive at Terminal 5 [of Heathrow] at midday and disperse among the crowd. At a signal they will all unveil red T-shirts with anti-airport expansion logos.” We plumb can’t wait to see what that “unusual action” will turn out to be.

         Stay tuned.