How N.R.A. Fundraising Shapes the Political Landscape

Here's what you'll find on today's show: — The National Rifle Association’s annual conference beings today in Dallas. Around 80,000 people are expected to attend and the event is slated to feature high-profile speakers such as Texas Senator Ted Cruz, social media personalities 'Diamond and Silk,' Vice President Mike Pence, and President Donald Trump. The renown of their speakership illustrates the massive influence the N.R.A. enjoys in politics, which in turn comes partly from the organization’s longstanding success in fundraising. While the pro-gun lobby faces some of the most intense scrutiny in its history after mass shootings at a music festival in Las Vegas, a church in Texas, and a high school in Florida, the N.R.A. broke a 15-year fundraising record in March. — Until last week, Melanie Douglas had been a driver for the Dekalb County School District in Atlanta for 12 years. As teacher strikes spread around the country, Douglas and other bus drivers in Dekalb County had been considering ways to improve their own working conditions, eventually deciding on a three-day "sickout" late last month. Nearly 400 drivers participated on the first day. — This Saturday, NASA will launch the InSight space lander off the central coast of California, the first West-coast interplanetary launch for the agency. Its destination is a flat expanse on Mars known as Elysium Planitia. Since InSight is a lander, not a rover, it won’t be moving much once it gets to the Red Planet. Instead, its purpose is to help scientists map the interior of the planet. InSight is armed with a seismometer to detect tremors, or marsquakes. The lander is also equipped with an 18-inch probe that is going to jackhammer itself 16-feet into Mars’s surface, and then monitor how much heat is coming from the interior of the planet, giving scientists a better idea of what Mars is made of. — 50 years ago this week, former Boston Celtics player-coach Bill Russell made history by becoming the first black coach ever to win a major professional championship. On May 2, 1968, Russell led the Boston Celtics to an historic N.B.A. title. Russell was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama in 2011.  — The Victoria and Albert Museum is one of London's most popular attractions. It's the world's largest museum of decorative arts and design, with a permanent collection of over two million items. But a new exhibit that opened this week is causing renewed controversy. "Maqdala 1868" commemorates the 150th anniversary of the British Empire's Napier Expedition, in which General Robert Napier led a force of tens of thousands of soldiers and adventurers to loot a trove of artifacts from the city of Maqdala. The ensuing battle saw Emperor Tewodros II commit suicide as British forces closed in. Tewodros's young son Alemayehu was forced to London, where his remains still lay. — Every Friday Rafer Guzman, film critic for Newsday and The Takeaway, drops by to review the new releases hitting the box office. This week, Rafer gives his take on three must-sees: "Tully," with Charlize Theron, directed by Jason Reitman and written by Diablo Cody, "Bad Samaritan," directed by Dean Devlin, and the streaming series "Cobra Kai," a reimagining of the original "Karate Kid" 30 years later with two of the original stars: Ralph Macchio as Danny LaRusso and William Zabka as Johnny Lawrence. 

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