The Greatest Birthday Gift the World Has Ever Seen

The coronavirus is a rapidly developing news story, so some of the content in this article might be out of date. Check out our most recent coverage of the coronavirus crisis, and subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

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.

THE TRUTH IS...

what drives Mother Jones' team of 50-plus journalists. The truth is powerful, as evidenced by how hard those with something to hide, or profit to gain, seek to discredit it. The truth, stated boldly and reported meticulously, is what draws so many readers to Mother Jones.

And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

It's not, and if you can right now, please consider a year-end donation to support our team's fearless nonprofit journalism so we can close that big fundraising gap and finish the year strong, ready for all that's ahead in 2021. Whether you can give $5 or $500, it all matters in keeping us charging hard, and we'd be grateful.

payment methods

THE TRUTH IS...

what drives Mother Jones' team of 50-plus journalists. The truth is powerful, as evidenced by how hard those with something to hide, or profit to gain, seek to discredit it. The truth, stated boldly and reported meticulously, is what draws so many readers to Mother Jones.

And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

It's not, and if you can right now, please consider a year-end donation to support our team's fearless nonprofit journalism so we can close that big fundraising gap and finish the year strong, ready for all that's ahead in 2021. Whether you can give $5 or $500, it all matters in keeping us charging hard, and we'd be grateful.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate