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Only in America
February 9, 2013

A Washington state motorist was required to explain the meaning of his vanity license plate, after a mistaken complaint claimed it was obscene. Tony Cava's plate, GOES211, is a reference to his favorite movie, Spinal Tap, but a complainant demanded the state's license-plate committee revoke it, saying the plate insinuates that "his penis grows to 11 inches in length." Cava won his case, a state official said, after proving "the complaint was, pardon my pun, a stretch." The Week Staff

Crime and punishment
5:22 a.m. ET
Mahmud Turkia/AFP/Getty Images

On Tuesday, a court in Tripoli, Libya, sentenced Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, former Prime Minister Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi, former Libyan intelligence chief Abdallah al-Senousi, and six other figures from deposed, slain dictator Moammar Gadhafi's government to death for war crimes in 2011. Saif al-Islam, Gadhafi's son, was not in court and testified via video link because, BBC News reports, "he is being held by a former rebel group from the town of Zintan that refuses to release him." The dozens of other Gadhafi-era officials on trial were handed sentences ranging from five years to life in prison. They all have the right to appeal their verdicts. Peter Weber

The Daily Showdown
4:36 a.m. ET

Jon Stewart has just eight Daily Shows left, and he has apparently decided he can't dedicate all of them to mocking Donald Trump. "As a hard-hitting news program," he joked on Monday's show, "we turn to ISIS," and why the FBI has declared it more dangerous to America than al Qaeda. The reason, it turns out, is Islamic State's superior use of social media, including, according to FBI director James Comey, terrorists available 24/7 for direct-messaging on Twitter.

"Oh, terrorists have online customer support?" Stewart said. "I don't know if that means they've surpassed al Qaeda but they're beating the [censored] out of Time Warner." And what, he asked, is America doing to fight back against ISIS's mastery of social media? Leaflets. "Are you f—ing kidding me? Leaflets?" Stewart asked, incredulous. "That is our newest communication weapon in the greatest war of the 21st century? Dropped leaflets? Floating paper?" Before he's done, Stewart has also managed to rope in Uber and sift through the complexities of Turkey's new involvement in bombing Syria. Watch below. Peter Weber

Robots
3:32 a.m. ET
iStock

Hundreds of science and tech luminaries are freaked out about the real possibility of robotic machines that kill on their own, without a human picking the targets and pulling the trigger, and they think you should be worried, too.

On Monday, in an open letter presented at the opening of the International Joint Conference On Artificial Intelligence in Buenos Aires, physicist Stephen Hawking, Space X founder Elon Musk, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, and other prominent figures with ties to artificial intelligence (AI) warned about autonomous weapons and urged the world to enact a global ban on such human-free killing technology. The letter, organized by the Future of Life Institute, says that such technology is "feasible within years, not decades, and the stakes are high":

If any major military power pushes ahead with AI weapon development, a global arms race is virtually inevitable, and the endpoint of this technological trajectory is obvious: autonomous weapons will become the Kalashnikovs of tomorrow. Unlike nuclear weapons, they require no costly or hard-to-obtain raw materials, so they will become ubiquitous and cheap for all significant military powers to mass-produce. It will only be a matter of time until they appear on the black market and in the hands of terrorists, dictators wishing to better control their populace, warlords wishing to perpetrate ethnic cleansing, etc. [Future of Life Institute]

The signatories said they are speaking out not because they despise AI but because they believe it "has great potential to benefit humanity in many ways," so long as it doesn't include "offensive autonomous weapons beyond meaningful human control." You can read the entire letter at the Future of Life Institute. Peter Weber

The Daily Showdown
2:27 a.m. ET

What do you say when a U.S. presidential candidate manages to offend just about everyone, as former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-Ark.) did Sunday by saying that President Obama's Iran nuclear deal is "marching Israelis to the door of the oven," a reference to the Nazi death camps of World War II? If you are Jon Stewart, you say nothing. On Monday's Daily Show, Stewart managed to skewer Huckabee, argue that the "Donald Trump effect" on the GOP primary is not to blame for his comment, and note his disappointment in the formerly likable politician, all in under four minutes and without uttering an intelligible word. You can watch the withering, silent tour de force below. Peter Weber

unfair advantage
1:43 a.m. ET

It took a former NBA star to prove to the world that carnival games aren't always rigged against the player.

Gilbert Arenas visited the Orange County Fair in Southern California over the weekend, and judging by his Instagram, won every single stuffed animal inside the fairgrounds and within a 20-mile radius. Arenas wrote in the caption that he was "banned from all the basketball hoops at #orangecountyfair," but that's not actually true, carnival operator RCS and OC Fair officials said.

While Arenas did win the maximum number of prizes — players can take home just one prize per day at each game — he isn't persona non grata at the midway. "I'd say he looks pretty happy in the picture," Chris Lopez, vice president for RCS, told ABC7 Los Angeles. "Makes me wonder how he got all that home? Mr. Arenas is welcome back to the O.C. Fair any time, and that includes the basketball games." Catherine Garcia

history is made
12:37 a.m. ET

Jen Welter is a trailblazer — first in the Indoor Football League, and now the NFL.

Earlier this year, Welter was an assistant coach of the Indoor Football League's Texas Revolution, and believed to be the first woman to coach in a men's professional football league. On Monday, the Arizona Cardinals announced that they have added Welter to their staff as a coaching intern during training camp and the preseason, the Los Angeles Times reports. With this new role, Welter is thought to be the first woman to ever hold a coaching position in the NFL.

"Coaching is nothing more than teaching," Cardinals Coach Bruce Arians said. "One thing I have learned from players is, 'How are you going to make me better? I don't care if you're the Green Hornet, man, I'll listen.' I really believe she'll have a great opportunity with this internship through training camp to open some doors for her." Catherine Garcia

Watch this
12:19 a.m. ET

No matter how you feel about Tom Cruise, he does one helluva lip sync. But Jimmy Fallon, as genial as he seems, is also very competitive. So their lip-sync battle on Monday's Tonight Show really feels like a battle, a rarity on Fallon's jovial Tonight Show. "This is so ridiculous," Cruise said, smiling. "I love it." He then attacked the contest as intensely as he does everything else.

Cruise started things off by nailing "Can't Feel My Face" by The Weekend, but Fallon came back with a more-than-respectable Stones song. When Cruise countered with both sides of an old Meat Loaf duet, it was pretty much over. At the end, it looked like the two performers might go for love, not war, with Fallon throwing in the towel and inviting Cruise back to do a duet to the Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling," a throwback to Top Gun, but they just ended up fighting for the attention of a woman in the front row of the audience. You can watch the entire face-off below. Peter Weber

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