The Greatest Birthday Gift the World Has Ever Seen

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If you’re like me and can’t carry a tune to save your life, so you speak or mouth the lyrics to “Happy Birthday” instead of spoiling a perfectly good singalong, there are other ways to celebrate someone’s birthday. Ask them questions, and truly hear the answers. Happy birthday today to our outstanding Mother Jones environmental reporter Rebecca Leber, who reluctantly agreed to a Q&A:

You tweeted “It’s my birthday soon and I am very alone. All the presents.” Have all the presents come in? What’s on your climate wishlist?

I live on my own, so it’s been a weird time, but the chain reaction of that tweet was hearing really kind words from some readers!

Tips for those of us living alone during the pandemic?

None, but I am determined to get through this without baking bread.

Top wish?

There’s a lot of talk about returning to normal, but “normal” means a heavy pollution footprint from transportation. We could be thinking bigger in redesigning cities—less for cars and more for walkability and resilience.

Send Rebecca the presents and watch in awe as she tracks the ways the administration is racing to roll back environmental protections while no one is looking. But Rebecca is looking and she’s compelling officials to take notice and take action. Happy birthday, RL.

Today’s Recharge menu continues with a seasonal selection of immunity boosts:

Delivered. Despite the ruthless, bloodsucking practices at GrubHub that siphon profits from independent restaurants during the pandemic—well documented by the New Yorker’s Helen Rosner and TechCrunch’s Jon Evans—one restaurant has a creative workaround. A dish on its Grubhub menu is called “Please help us reduce our fees by ordering through our website. $0.00.” Ingredients: “During this time of crisis, I ask for your little help—please place your order through our website.” Order up and send all pro-worker justice stories to recharge@motherjones.com.

Solving it. A coding teen took matters into her own hands after seeing “firsthand how flawed our system is for survivors” of sexual assault by designing an app “to help you, free of judgment,” access emergency resources. “This is why we need more women in STEM!” she says in her vastly popular TikTok video, set to inspiring music.

Never-before-seen Trump photo. No one can safely get a haircut in a salon right now, including the president. Here’s proof, a photo of his overgrown pandemic hair, sent to me by a senior White House official and verified by a second administration source. “The hair is his real hair from quarantining and not being able to get a haircut,” the first official tells me.

Hawking hope. An Atlanta boy got a surprise from his skating idol, Tony Hawk, thanks to a FedEx driver who made the 8-year-old’s day when the kid ran up to his truck shouting, “Excuse me! Can you mail something for me?” The boy handed the driver his skateboard to send to Hawk, but not knowing Hawk’s address, the driver posted a video. Hawk responded with a video of his own, flashing a skateboard he’d send the 8-year-old in return: “Thanks buddy. I hope to meet you sometime.” Watch here (sound on, upper right).

Competition. Recharge is America’s top-rated solutions-driven column of good news, but we have competition: a 16-year-old in Fairfield, Connecticut, launched his own good-news newsletter, SunShow. Congratulations to Kush Maisuria. Recharge salutes you. “There’s just so many people doing good everywhere and I wanted to contribute to that,” he says.

Send inspiring stories to recharge@motherjones.com, and stop by our daily blog at motherjones.com/recharge.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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