Nearly 20,000 Letters From Pen Pals, Plus a Birthday and a Political Chess Puzzle

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Three boosts to enter the week:

Letter by letter. “Will you be my pen pal?” “My name is Pattie. Please write me.” “My name is Berlene. I am your pen pal! Please write to me.” Nearly 20,000 letters have poured in, answering the calls of a North Carolina senior center’s residents after they posted photos to Facebook of hand-drawn signs in search of connection. Four months had passed since visits were discontinued, and the outpouring of support from letter writers continues.

Political pen pals. On his birthday today, Zac Lee Rigg—raised in Malaysia and Indonesia and living in Los Angeles—tells Recharge, “Tell everyone I’m aging and I’m not ashamed of it.” (He’s also producing some of the most consistently brilliant, historically informed, justice-driven videos on The Internet. But can he single-handedly defund the United States military?)

No one’s pawn. It’s International Chess Day. Alongside the game’s popularity runs a history of human rights campaigns and political problem-solving, highlighted by the United Nations’ livestream today, “Chess for Recovering Better.” In the mix: superstars Viswanathan Anand of India, Levon Aronian of the United States, Hou Yifan of China, and Vladimir Kramnik of Russia. Hop on. The event was inspired by Mher Margaryan, Armenia’s UN representative, to “promote fairness, equality, mutual respect, and understanding among nations.”

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FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

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