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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Straight to the point: Donations have been concerningly slow for our hugely important First $500,000 fundraising campaign. We urgently need your help, and a lot of help, over the next few weeks so we can pay for the one-of-a-kind journalism you get from us.

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