SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Jimi Hendrix made it shriek. Buddy Holly made it swing. Stevie Ray Vaughn made it snarl.
Some of the most legendary guitarists in music history have elicited unforgettable sounds from the Fender Stratocaster, the distinctive double-cutaway guitar born in a small Fullerton, Calif., workshop 60 years ago this month.
It's far from a musical relic: It remains an essential tool for some of today's top guitarists. Vince Gill relies on it so much he calls it an "extension of my hands," while blues virtuoso Robert Cray calls it a workhorse.
As shredder Yngwie Malmsteen put it: "There is no substitute."
As this iconic guitar celebrates its 60th anniversary in April, The Associated Press takes a visual journey into the creation of the iconic guitars, and explores why it's still a fixture on concert stages today.
ISLAMABAD (AP) — Most didn't notice the new library at this Islamic seminary for girls near Pakistan's capital, until locals saw the paper sign in Urdu posted on its wooden door: "Library of Osama bin Laden, the Martyr."
Cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz, a radical preacher who runs the Jamia Hafsa madrassa, wanted to honor the memory of the al-Qaida leader, killed in a May 2011 raid by U.S. Navy SEALs on his hiding place in Abbottabad, a garrison town about 125 kilometers (75 miles) north of the capital, Islamabad.
But while the library's name has garnered attention across Pakistan, a country where public opinion remains strongly anti-American and religious students today still idolize the man behind the Sept. 11 terror attacks, his image increasingly has faded from public view in recent years. As Pakistan has seen thousands killed in its own war against its local Taliban, a public that once named its own children after the Saudi millionaire has grown increasingly angry with militant violence.
Pictures of bin Laden and stores bearing his name once dotted the countryside of Pakistan, where U.S. drone strikes against militants have grown increasingly unpopular over civilian casualties. Islamists held small rallies across Pakistan after the raid to denounce his killing, which embarrassed the country's military for not detecting it. The slain al-Qaida chief is still regarded as a hero by most students at Islamic schools, or madrassas.
But this image spread as a symbol in part because at the beginning of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, many supported the Taliban there. But since there were no images of its leader, Mullah Omar, they adopted the bearded images of bin Laden instead.
As Pakistani authorities began arresting Taliban leaders and associates of bin Laden, the public grew increasingly scared about showing his image. Those that remained up slowly faded away in the sun or washed away in torrential, seasonal rains.
Aziz's naming of the library is the first public remembrance of bin Laden in some time, capturing the attention of local media. For Aziz, bin Laden is an icon, the cleric's spokesman Tehsin Ullah told The Associated Press on Friday.
"Aziz thinks that Osama bin Laden is a hero and he is a martyr and that is why he selected Osama bin Laden's name for the library," Ullah said.
The madrassas are an important aspect of education in the predominantly Muslim Pakistan, and tens of thousands of students study there. Most of the religious schools provide free food, tuition and even board for students who come from other parts of the country. Some also serve to radicalize youth to join militants. Aziz's students have joined anti-American protests put on by the hard-line cleric.
Aziz is a prayer leader at Islamabad's Red Mosque — a former militant hideout that the army on orders from then-President Pervez Musharraf raided in 2007. The raid killed dozens of extremists and others and unleashed a wave of retaliatory militant attacks across Pakistan.
Aziz was arrested by police during the raid when he tried to escape wearing a burqa. Later freed, he began running a boy's and girl's school connected to the mosque.
The newly constructed, one-room library is located inside the school compound, next to a computer room and Aziz's office. There were no visible books or portraits of bin Laden inside the library when Associated Press journalists visited Friday. Abdul Rehman, the school's administrator, said it only will carry books about the teachings of Islam.
Rehman refused to discuss bin Laden, saying girls at the school also learned computer skills. However, Rehman stopped journalists from speaking to students, saying Islam doesn't allow men who are not family members to interact with female students or teachers.
Associated Press writers Riaz Khan in Peshawar, Pakistan, and Rebecca Santana contributed to this report.
BOSTON (AP) — With an expanded field of runners and the memory of last year's bombings elevating interest in one of the world's great races, the 2014 Boston Marathon could bring an unprecedented wave of visitors and an influx of tourism dollars to the area.
Race organizers, in the aftermath of the twin bombings that killed three spectators and injured more than 260 people, expanded the field of runners by 9,000, to nearly 36,000. The majority — more than 21,000 — hail from U.S. states outside of New England. Another 5,330 or so will come from more than 70 foreign countries. The rest will come from Massachusetts and surrounding states.
More spectators are also expected to line the 26.2-mile course, which starts west of Boston in Hopkinton and ends downtown on Boylston Street. Some 500,000 spectators typically line the race route; this year, officials estimate the crowds might exceed a million on Monday.
Nothing could keep Sarah Stenn, who lives in Sagaponack, N.Y., and finished last year's marathon about 45 minutes before the bombs detonated, from returning.
"Last year, we all saw the worst of humanity, and it was met by the best of humanity," said Stenn, who is making the trip with her husband, two daughters and her 87-year-old father. "I'm going back because I want my kids and everyone else to know that this race will continue to stand for all that is good and right in life, and that no person or act will every take that away."
Patrick Moscaritolo, president of the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau, expects the marathon will generate more than $175 million in economic activity over about five days. That's up from previous year projections of $130 million to $140 million.
"This is not a one-day race," Moscaritolo said. "It's never been, and I think this year it will be far from that. ... For all sorts of reasons, people are coming out, and they want to stand with the runners and make a statement of support."
Despite the likely economic boon, local businesses are not focused on the bottom line, officials say.
"It's hard to talk about it in dollars and cents, because people's lives have been lost," Moscaritolo said. "The bottom line is that people had promised this race would come back bigger and stronger than ever before, and, by the looks of it, that is going to be the case."
One clear sign of how busy the Boston area is expected to be this weekend is the pace for hotel bookings. Officials say this year's demand has been the strongest since perhaps the race's centennial in 1996.
Moscaritolo estimated earlier this week that the occupancy rate in the 23,000 or so hotel rooms in Boston and Cambridge was at nearly 90 percent. That's up from about 83 to 84 percent for previous marathons, said Moscaritolo, adding that there are still plenty of options for last minute travelers, with some 27,000 more hotel rooms elsewhere in Greater Boston.
Officials at Marathon Tours & Travel, the official travel agency for the Boston Athletic Association, which organizes the race, say they are working with hotels south and west of the city to help meet demand.
"Most of the time, we're usually looking at hotels toward the finish line because people want to finish the race and get right back to their room," said Kelly McLay, the company's sales and marketing manager. "But this year, we've seen an extension to ones along the course route."
And it's not just the marathon putting pressure on hotels, said Paul Sacco, of the Massachusetts Lodging Association. This year's race comes at a busy travel time overall, coinciding with Passover, Easter and spring breaks.
Sheila Prevou, of Leavenworth, Kan., is running her sixth Boston Marathon. She and a friend were coming in Friday and planned to stay through Tuesday.
"You want a day to celebrate, and I think this year that will be especially important to do that," she said. "Plus, you guys have such great restaurants. We'll definitely be eating our way through the city."
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A woman who shot and killed her two young grandsons before committing suicide last year left a note to the boys' parents saying they did not deserve to have the children, according to a police report.
The report, obtained by The Associated Press through a Freedom of Information request, suggests a possible motive for the first time and sheds new light on her mental health problems: The grandmother, Debra Denison, had a history of conflict with the boys' mother and had attempted suicide a half dozen times before.
Denison, 47, picked up 2-year-old Alton Perry and 6-month-old Ashton Perry at a day care in North Stonington on Feb. 26, 2013, and was supposed to take them home for a birthday party but instead drove to a nearby lake where they were found shot to death after a frantic search.
In addition to a suicide note to her husband, Denison left a note addressed to the boys' parents, Jeremy and Brenda Perry. Denison was Brenda Perry's mother.
"The note stated among other things that Brenda and Jeremy did not deserve to have the children and Debra wanted them to feel the loss of a child," state police Detective David Lamoureux wrote in a report on Oct. 22.
Brenda Perry told police she had struggled with her mother for years because of control issues and mental health problems including dissociative identity disorder, formerly called multiple personality disorder. Perry, 24, said her mother had told Jeremy lies about her in attempts to break up their relationship and she became more easily agitated after they married and had children.
In the months before the killings, Perry said they had decided to mend fences. Her mother seemed more stable and they were planning to go to counseling together.
Perry had recently added her mother to the list of people authorized to collect the children at day care, but Perry's brother or sister was supposed to accompany Denison. The grandmother went alone, and day care workers said she was friendly and talkative as she loaded the children in her van.
Jance Denison, Debra's husband, said the revolver that she used belonged to him and was left unloaded in their house. Jance Denison had acquired the gun from his brother months earlier because Debra Denison insisted on it being at her house following recent burglaries, the brother told police.
Jance Denison said Debra had attempted suicide at least six times over 20 years and been committed but he "never imagined Debbie was capable of this."
Several relatives told police that Debra was upset by a letter she received about a week before the shootings from her son, Christopher Allen, who is serving a 32-year prison sentence for a drug-related murder.
Allen, who was interviewed in prison during the search for his nephews, said that when he was younger his mother told him he was a product of rape. A month and a half before the shooting, she told him that was a lie that she told because she did not want Allen's biological father to raise him. Allen said the letter to his mother expressed "how I truly felt" about her.
The report from state police said the case is closed with no further investigation anticipated.
CHICAGO (AP) — For the more than 30 states that defaulted to the federal government under President Barack Obama's health care law, time may be running out to decide whether to create their own state-run insurance exchanges.
With the chance to apply for hundreds of millions of dollars in federal help set to expire in a few months, even Obama's home state of Illinois is expressing little interest in taking the next step. The law's disastrous rollout and lingering unpopularity have made it risky to raise the issue in a tense election year despite Obama's announcement Thursday that 8 million Americans have signed up for subsidized private insurance.
Health care advocates are pushing the Democrats who control the Illinois Legislature to pass a measure enabling a state exchange. They note many states already running their own were able to enroll customers at a faster clip and will have more opportunity to scrutinize insurance rate increases for their residents.
But it has barely been mentioned in the state capital of Springfield, with just weeks left to take action before the Legislature adjourns.
"The Democrats run this state. President Obama's from Illinois. It's up to them to do it," said Jim Duffett of the Campaign for Better Health Care, a nonprofit coalition that has been helping Illinois residents sign up for coverage. "Who's in power makes a difference; you can't hide from it anymore."
Many of the remaining states that declined to adopt their own exchanges are controlled by Republicans, some of whom want to eliminate what they call "Obamacare." But Sonya Schwartz of the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute, which has been tracking states' implementation of the health law, puts Illinois at the top of a list of states more likely to approve an exchange. Her list also includes Iowa, Arkansas, Michigan, West Virginia, New Hampshire and Delaware.
But the same reluctance is holding back many of those states, despite a November deadline to get access to funds to help secure a state exchange, with in Illinois' case could mean up to $500 million. In Michigan, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder prefers creating a state-run exchange, but has been rebuffed by the GOP-controlled Legislature. In Iowa, where the health care law is expected to be a big issue in a U.S. Senate race, the Legislature is expected to adjourn soon without any action on a state-run exchange.
In Illinois, Republicans are expected to exploit the health law's problems in election campaigns against incumbent Democrats in Congress, including Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the U.S. Senate.
The governor's race, between incumbent Democrat Pat Quinn and his Republican opponent, wealthy businessman Bruce Rauner, is expected to be one of the most hotly contested in the nation.
While state lawmakers have less connection to the federal law, the idea of any state measure associated with the Affordable Care Act remains unpopular with both parties, said Pat Brady, a former Illinois GOP chairman.
"A lot of people don't want to have their names associated with it," Brady said.
The health care law was designed for each state to run its own insurance marketplace, but just 16 states and Washington, D.C., opted to do so. The federal government ended up running exchanges for the other states, plus Idaho and New Mexico, which ran out of time to fully implement their own exchanges.
Illinois and a handful of other states formed partnerships with the federal government, a hybrid model that allowed the states access to a first level of federal grants. In Illinois, that totaled nearly $154 million, roughly half of which has been spent or committed to outreach workers, advertising, a telephone help desk and analysis of health insurance plans.
With a few notable exceptions, state-run exchanges outpaced the ones run by the federal government. The Oregon exchange's technology glitches forced people to sign up using a time-consuming hybrid paper-online process. Earlier this month, Maryland chose to replace its glitch-filled exchange with technology from Connecticut at an estimated cost of $40 million to $50 million.
Time is now running out for the final round of federal grant funding, which requires state enabling legislation or a governor's executive order. The grants can't be awarded after Jan. 1, 2015, and federal rules set Nov. 14 as the deadline for states to apply.
"This is your last chance to pull this off," Schwartz said.
However, many state legislatures will soon adjourn their spring sessions, leaving election-minded lawmakers free to go home and campaign until November.
In Illinois, Duffett's group is trying to collect pledges of support from lawmakers to persuade Democratic leaders to introduce a bill creating an exchange before lawmakers adjourn on May 31. But a spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan, who is also the state Democratic Party chairman, acknowledged a lack of "real interest" in pursuing an exchange but wouldn't rule it out "if a consensus would develop."
Christopher Mooney, director of the University of Illinois' Institute of Government and Public Affairs, said the health law is "probably" more popular in Obama's home state than elsewhere, and that individual state lawmakers know whether their smaller districts either support or oppose it. But he said legislators normally like to avoid "unpleasant stuff," especially in an election year.
"It's such a polarizing issue, I can easily imagine them saying, 'Why bother?'" Mooney said.
Associated Press writer David Eggert in Lansing, Mich., contributed to this report.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
NEW YORK (AP) — An Egyptian imam who led a London mosque more than a dozen years ago was portrayed in opening statements at his terrorism trial as an enthusiastic supporter of al-Qaida by a prosecutor and as a reasonable man who helped authorities in England keep people calm by his defense attorney.
The openings Thursday at the trial of Mustafa Kamel Mustafa came after U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest in Manhattan turned down a last-minute request by the defendant to deliver his own opening statement to the jury.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward Kim referred to him by an alias, Abu Hamza, as he labeled him a terrorist, saying he "deployed men to execute his terrorist goals."
He said he supplied satellite phones in 1998 to kidnappers in Yemen who killed four hostages and tried to set up a Bly, Ore., al-Qaida camp in late 1999 and early 2000 before sending at least two men to Afghanistan to train at an al-Qaida camp.
Kim said Mustafa tried to rally hundreds of followers at a large London mosque to engage in his "global campaign to spread terror."
"Abu Hamza was not just a preacher of religion," Kim said. "He was a trainer of terrorists, and he used the cover of religion so he could hide in plain sight in London."
But defense attorney Joshua Dratel told jurors his client never harmed Americans and didn't participate in any acts charged in the case.
"Please keep your eyes on the evidence and not the rhetoric," Dratel said.
He promised Mustafa would testify but cautioned jurors they might not agree with some of his views.
"He said a lot of harsh things," Dratel said. "These are views, not acts. This is expression, not crimes. He needed to be outrageous to an extent to reach the entire spectrum of his community and keep them in the conversation. He couldn't walk a road that left him without access to extremists on one side of the other."
The lawyer said British intelligence officers repeatedly enlisted Mustafa's help to keep situations under control and non-violent.
He added: "He is who he is. You're not here to judge his philosophy or his ideology. You're here to judge the evidence."
Kim told jurors that among the witnesses they will hear during a trial expected to last about a month is a former hostage who escaped a terrorist attack in Yemen in 1998 and later interviewed Mustafa at his mosque, getting him to acknowledge that he gave satellite phones to the kidnappers and believed the attack was justified.
He said a tape recording of her interview with Mustafa will be played at the trial.
The 55-year-old cleric was extradited in 2012 from England, where he turned London's Finsbury Park Mosque in the 1990s into a training ground for Islamic extremists, attracting men including Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and shoe bomber Richard Reid.