Money man. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie remains a big financial draw for the GOP, despite reservations over the bridge scandal that continues to dog his aides. During a fundraising trip to Texas last week for the Republican Governor’s Association (RGA), Christie raked in $1.5 million. He’s in Illinois today. The RGA, which contributes to Republican governors’ races, raised $6 million in January. But other top GOP fundraisers say donors aren’t quite as keen on Christie as they were before revelations his aides orchestrated a traffic snarl at the base of the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, N.J. Although nothing ties Christie directly to the closure, allegedly payback for the town mayor’s refusal to support the governor’s reelection bid, some GOP donors fear it will dim a political star that has so far been one of the party’s brightest lights. For now, top party members are standing behind Christie, but if any evidence emerges tying him to the traffic jam, even his supporters agree his party pedestal will have suffered irreparable structural damage.
Say goodbye. Depression-era child star Shirley Temple Black died at her home in California on Monday. She was 85. The curly-haired, precocious dancer brought some much-needed cheer to audiences at a time when light-hearted distractions were at a premium. She got her first role at age 3 but didn’t get her big break until she was 6, although producers thought she was only 5. Temple went on to become America’s biggest box office draw, starring in movies like Bright Eyes and The Littlest Rebel. Despite her popularity, Temple’s stardom was short-lived. By the time she was 12, her acting career was pretty much over, at least on screen. As an adult, she became involved in politics, serving four Republican presidents in diplomatic roles, including as ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia.
Wage gap. College administrators are cheering a new Pew study on the earnings gap between workers with a bachelor’s degree and those with just a high school diploma. According to the study, high school graduates made $17,500 less, on average in 2012, than their peers who had graduated from college. That disparity is the highest it’s ever been. But earnings for college graduates haven’t risen much in two decades, one of the things critics point to as a reason degrees aren’t worth what they cost these days. The median pay for millennial college graduates in 2012 was $45,500. Twenty years ago, the median pay was $43,663, more than $1,000 less than the $44,770 median pay from 30 years ago.
Moving on. Leonard Knight, the artist who created Salvation Mountain out of adobe and brightly colored paint in California’s Imperial Valley desert died Monday. He was 82. The Korean War veteran became famous for painting messages about God’s love on his man-made mountain near Slab City, a massive homeless encampment. He once told a reporter his philosophy of life: “Love Jesus and keep it simple.” Angela Lu and Sophia Lee wrote about Knight and Salvation Mountain in the July 13, 2013, issue of WORLD magazine.