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STEIN: Jimmy Buffett Found That Shaker of Salt

Why is the death of Jimmy Buffett hitting me so hard?

I was in the car listening to WXTU, Philly’s country station, playing song after Jimmy Buffet song, and “Come Monday” came on. My eyes welled up. All that money and fame, yet Merkel cell skin cancer took him at 76.

I never met Jimmy Buffett in person. I’m just one of millions of fans. And I’ve admired many other musicians. Bruce Springsteen, Keith Urban, Taylor Swift, Stevie Nicks, Carole King, Billy Joel, Paul Simon, and Yo-Yo Ma come to mind. They’re all still with us. But Buffett’s music was different. It could take you away, if only briefly, to a happy place where the ocean breezes blow, the palm trees sway, and flip-flops and Hawaiian shirts replace business attire.

Jimmy Buffett
(courtesy of Facebook)

At a Jimmy Buffett show, you could forget whatever adversity might be happening in your life, wear a grass skirt and a parrot hat, and be with thousands of like-minded “Parrot Heads”—even in gritty, urban Camden. Everyone was ready to party. Everyone knew the words, whether “Margaritaville” or “Cheeseburger in Paradise” or other feel-good anthems. Even through his illness, Buffett and his band, the Coral Reefers, continued to tour.

My husband and I saw the musical “Margaritaville” at the Walnut Street Theater a few months ago. There wasn’t much plot, but Jimmy Buffett’s music had everyone smiling and applauding.

He had a gift for making people smile, laugh, sing, and enjoy life.

As a young man, Buffett left Mississippi and picked up a guitar in college to attract girls.

Buffett headed to Nashville to break into music as a country singer while working as a journalist for Billboard magazine. But a trip to Key West with songwriter Jerry Jeff Walker in 1971 changed his “latitude and attitude” and gave him his artistic inspiration: Tropical beach escape music.

Buffett was also an astute businessman. His Caribbean fantasy became a lifestyle for many.

Buffett gave his trademark Margaritaville name to restaurants and retirement communities. He licensed a beer, “Landshark Lager,” and other products. He was a sailor, a pilot, and an author, as well as a husband, father, and grandfather.

Maybe my sorrow isn’t just for a person but for an era. Perhaps it’s nostalgia for a more innocent time before COVID hit the world and politics turned so cynical, bitter, and divisive.

Buffett was an icon of the Baby Boom generation, although he had many younger and older fans.

President Joe Biden commented on Buffett’s death: “His witty, wistful songs celebrate a uniquely American cast of characters and seaside folkways, weaving together an unforgettable musical mix of country, folk, rock, pop, and calypso into something uniquely his own. We had the honor to meet and get to know Jimmy over the years, and he was in life as he was performing on stage – full of goodwill and joy, using his gift to bring people together,” Biden said, in part.

And other musicians also joined the chorus of praise. Kenny Chesney, who had collaborated with Buffett, said, “So goodbye, Jimmy. Thanks for your friendship and the songs I will carry in my heart forever.”

Elton John called Buffett “unique” and a “treasured entertainer.”

“He had a most amazing lust for life and a beautiful sense of humour,” Paul McCartney said in an X post. “So many of us will miss Jimmy and his tremendous personality. His love for us all and for mankind as a whole.”

And Alan Jackson, whose hit song “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” featured Buffett, said, “Shores distant shores, That’s where I’m headed for, I got the stars to guide my way, Sal into the light of day.”

Fins up!

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Energy Wind Energy Company Sentenced For Killing Endangered Eagles — Without a Permit

After decades under threat from pollution, poachers, and poisons, America’s bald eagle population has recovered, thanks in part to aggressive federal action. Now a new threat has emerged, also promoted by Washington politics.


A green energy company has been found responsible for killing at least 150 eagles, including bald and golden eagles, highlighting the unintended consequences of relying on wind to generate electricity.

ESI Energy Inc. was sentenced Tuesday in Cheyenne, Wyoming, for violations of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). ESI is a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Inc. ESI owns other companies, many of which operate wind energy generation facilities throughout the United States, including in Wyoming, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, North Dakota, and Michigan.

Ironically, the company’s crime was not killing the endangered birds, but doing so without having the proper permits.

“This whole episode illustrates that the wind industry is a major killer of birds — including bald eagles and golden eagles and bats — but the government lets it happen as long as they’ve filled out the paperwork and gotten the permit to do so,” said Myron Ebell, director of the Center for Energy and the Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington.

ESI pleaded guilty to three counts of violating the MBTA, each based on the documented deaths of golden eagles due to blunt force trauma from being struck by a wind turbine blade at a particular facility in Wyoming or New Mexico, where ESI had not applied for the necessary permits.

“ESI acknowledged that at least 150 bald and golden eagles have died in total since 2012 across 50 of its 154 wind energy facilities,” the Department of Justice said in a statement. “And 136 of those deaths have been affirmatively determined to be attributable to the eagle being struck by a wind turbine blade.”

The court sentenced ESI to a fine of $1,861,600, restitution in the amount of $6,210,991, and a five-year period of probation during which it must follow an Eagle Management Plan.

Rebecca Kujawa, president of NextEra Energy Resources and NextEra Energy Partners, disputed the DOJ’s handling of the case, complaining the federal government has chosen to “criminalize unavoidable accidents related to collisions of birds into wind turbines” while at the same time failing to address other activities that result in far greater numbers of accidental eagle and other bird mortalities.”

Kujawa went on, “We disagree with the government’s underlying enforcement policy, which under most circumstances makes building and operating a wind farm into which certain birds may accidentally fly a violation of the MBTA — even when the wind farm was developed and sited in a way that sought to avoid avian wildlife collisions. The reality is building any structure, driving any vehicle, or flying any airplane carries with it a possibility that accidental eagle and other bird collisions may occur as a result of that activity.

“We have a long-standing and well-earned reputation for protecting our environment and positively co-existing with and supporting wildlife around our facilities, and we have never sited a wind turbine knowing an eagle would fly into it nor have we taken any action in disregard of federal law,” Kujawa said.

L. Robert Murray, U.S. Attorney for the District of Wyoming, defended the prosecution, saying it is the government’s job to protect the endangered birds.

“Wyoming is graced with abundant natural resources — including both eagles and strong winds,” Murray said. “This shows our commitment to both maintaining and making sustainable use of our resources.”

James Taylor, president of the Heartland Institute, said the sad and ironic takeaway from the case is ESI simply failed to obtain a readily accessible permit from the federal government before its wind turbines bludgeoned more than 150 eagles to death in mid-flight.

“The federal government routinely issues such permits to wind power producers, while forbidding — for good reason — anybody else from killing bald eagles and golden eagles,” Taylor said. “The federal government’s concern is not to protect eagles, but to protect its own regulatory fiefdom.”

Taylor said wind power companies are “cold-blooded executioners of literally millions of birds and bats each year in the United States,” which is a primary reason bird and bat populations are in alarming decline.

“Government forcing more wind power on the American economy will only worsen this tragic environmental catastrophe.”

American Bird Conservancy said it is still reviewing the finer details of the settlement, but Joel Merriman, director of the Conservancy’s Bird-Smart Wind Energy Campaign said enforcement through MBTA is a positive.

“The MBTA is more than 100 years old, it’s one of our bedrock environmental laws, and whether it’s a wind company or an oil company or any other industry, we are appreciative of seeing MBTA enforced.”

In this instance, Merriman says it appears there were a number of violations over many years. “So, it does make sense that this would be an instance where there would be an enforcement action.”

Bird populations in North America are down. A 2019 study from Cornell University found the region has lost nearly 3 billion birds in the last 50 years. “It’s pretty staggering,” Merriman said. “That’s the kind of thing that I think should get people’s attention.”

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BILITY FAMILY: We Have Had Enough

Editor’s Note: This statement was read by lawyer Bruce L. Castor Jr. at a Darby Township meeting this week. The Darby Board of Commissioners then voted to extend by 60 days the suspension of the Briarcliffe Fire Company whose members made disparaging remarks about Fanta Bility.


The family of little 8 year-old Fanta Bility is not here tonight to accept an apology nor participate as a prop as part of a community discussion. They have asked me to read a statement which I shall now do.

From the very beginning of the saga following the killing of Fanta at the hands of Sharon Hill Police and the wounding of several others, Fanta’s family have tried to respect the process of the justice system here in America without hyperbole, exaggeration, or accusations of immoral motives.

They love their adopted country and their adopted community. They believe in America’s ideals and promises. They trust America’s institutions, her police, her firemen, her prosecutors, her judges, and her juries. They wear the flag of their adopted nation on their sleeves. Able to distinguish between people doing bad things as opposed to America itself, and this community, in particular, being systemically bad.

That ends tonight. Yes, Fanta’s family realize their community might not be the best funded nor possess a well-trained and supervised police department. But this community has systematically and deliberately, at every turn, sought to devalue and de-humanize Fanta — with cruel, callous calculation.

(Fanta was) a girl who loved her family her friends and exulted in being an American. On at least four occasions, the life and memory of Fanta was dismissed as meaningless, insignificant, irrelevant, and appallingly, as laughable.

Once, when Sharon Hill Police officers turned their backs on active shooters and fired their weapons in the opposite direction. Worse, they fired at a moving car without regard for the safety of the innocent people in that car, nor the huge number of people in the ever-changing background as the officers tracked the car as is rode by bullets whizzing past by the dozens: one striking Fanta’s sister and another killing Fanta who lay dying in her mother’s lap, awake, alert, terrified knowing that her life was draining out of her…and her mother knowing the same — and she will never recover from that knowledge, much like Fanta can never be brought back to life.

But the Bility family believes in America and our institutions. Fanta’s life would be respected. Sadly, firemen from Briarcliffe Fire Department thought so little of the value of Fanta’s life they disparaged her on a hot mic, mocking her name and some say her ethnicity. No longer a little girl, a victim of gunshots…no…they reduced her to a punchline.

Thirdly, there was a preliminary hearing last week. Fanta’s family went there, as good American’s would, to see justice done. Only they were outnumbered 10 to 1 by off-duty police officers there to laugh and joke with the men a grand jury said were responsible for killing Fanta. It was not difficult to see which people in the courtroom gallery were Fanta’s family. No chance there could be any mistake at a simple glance.

And those men charged looked for all the world that the proceedings were a joke, nothing to worry over or take seriously — all in full view of the grieving family. This was the fourth direct and incontrovertible demonstration that Fanta’s life has no value — in much the same way, indeed, the same type of people, who have insultingly made no serious effort to settle the civil litigation coming out of the inept training and supervision Sharon Hill Borough provides its police.

The public servants tasked with protecting this community and making amends for its mistakes have failed little Fanta. She failed her family of patriotic, formerly enthusiastic first-generation Americans from West Africa. It’s sad, disappointing, and disgusting. No, Fanta Bility’s family is not here tonight to accept an apology. They are here now to say they have had enough.

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