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April 7, 2014
Franz Krüger, Wikimedia Commons

The idea that Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to revive the relative glory (and territorial conquest) of czarist Russia has its own niche in foreign policy circles. While Hillary Clinton and German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble are comparing Putin to Adolf Hitler, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright says Putin sees himself as "a new czar" and Finnish graduate student Anneli Portman did a textual analysis of the pronouncements of Putin and Czar Alexander I, finding striking similarities (via Bloomberg's Peter Coy). For fun, try an image search for Czar Putin.

Presumably, if Putin aspires to be a latter-day czar, he would prefer to follow in the footsteps of one of the "great" ones — Peter I (1682-1725) and Catherine II (1762-1796) — or even the formidable Ivan the Terrible (1547-1584). Robert Service, a Russian history professor at St. Antony’s College, Oxford, has someone else in mind, as he explains in The New York Times:

Putin himself is much more like another czar, Nicholas I, who stumbled into military conflict with the British and French and rejected calls for the basic reforms needed to enable Russia to compete with the world powers of the day. Nicholas had a cramped perspective and arrogant personality. Always attentive to the armed forces and the secret services, he overlooked the broader necessity to modernize Russia's economy and society. His country paid dearly for this when his army was humbled in the Crimean War of 1853-56. Russian foreign policy under Mr. Putin displays an equally gross lack of foresight. [The New York Times]

Service goes on to explain the probably unintended consequences of Putin's annexation of Crimea and feints (so far) at peeling off other parts of Ukraine. But Service fails to mention that despite Nicholas' defeat in Crimea (1825-1855) — his son, Alexander II, negotiated the peace in early 1956 — Nicholas I gobbled up Poland and won the east shore of the Black Sea, helping expand Russia toward its greatest size, 9.2 million square miles, in 1864-65. Peter Weber

7:06 p.m. ET
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Fox News on Monday denied claims made by former anchor Andrea Tantaros, who filed a lawsuit earlier this month saying she was taken off the air in April in retaliation for ignoring advances from former chairman Roger Ailes.

The network said Tantaros is an "opportunist," piggybacking off the publicity of an earlier sexual harassment lawsuit filed against Ailes by former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson. In a filing made Monday in a New York state court, lawyers for Fox News said Tantaros's lawsuit "bears all the hallmarks of the 'wannabe,'" and said she signed an agreement to keep employment-related disputes out of court. The lawyers also asked to send her lawsuit to arbitration.

In her lawsuit, Tantaros said the alleged harassment began in 2011, with Ailes making comments about her looks and asking her to "twirl" for him, Reuters reports. Fox News says Tantaros was removed from the air because she wrote a book, Tied Up In Knots: How Getting What We Wanted Made Women Miserable, without permission, and when it came out in April, she promoted it without authorization. Catherine Garcia

4:46 p.m. ET
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President Obama has presided over some of the best years to invest of the last century, The New York Times reports. The stock market has risen 11.8 per­cent on an annualized basis since Obama took office, the third best performance during an American presidency since 1900. Market performance was only better under Calvin Coolidge (25.5 per­cent) and Bill Clinton (15.9 percent).

Consider that had you been prescient enough to buy shares of a low-cost stock index fund on Mr. Obama's first inauguration day, on Jan. 20, 2009, you would now have tripled your money. Stock market performance of this level has rarely been surpassed. [The New York Times]

Now, presidents often don't deserve direct credit for market performance. Part of the trend just comes down to timing: With the economy in such a sorry state around the time Obama came into office, any vague signs of recovery naturally sent the market marching upward. The Federal Reserve has also pushed an "extraordinarily accommodative monetary policy," which began before Obama even took office. You can read more about the reasons behind the stock boom of the Obama years at The New York Times. The Week Staff

4:00 p.m. ET

Former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke has recorded a robocall touting his candidacy for Senate in Louisiana, and in the recorded message he explicitly ties his campaign to Donald Trump's. Duke has been piggybacking on Trump's increasingly prominent campaign for months; this winter, Trump was forced to disavow Duke's endorsement several times after initially offering a muddled response.

In the call, Duke issues a joint plea to voters on behalf of both men. "It's time to stand up and vote for Donald Trump for president and vote for me, David Duke, for the U.S. Senate," he says:

In announcing his candidacy for Louisiana's Senate seat last month, Duke again drew comparisons to Trump's movement, saying he was "overjoyed to see Donald Trump, and most Americans, embrace most of the issues that I've championed for years." The Trump campaign has already distanced itself from the robocall, telling Politico: "Mr. Trump has continued to denounce David Duke and any group or individual associated with a message of hate. There is no place for this in the Republican Party or our country. We have no knowledge of these calls or any related activities, but strongly condemn and disavow." Kimberly Alters

3:29 p.m. ET
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Gene Wilder passed away at the age of 83, his family said Monday. Wilder was best known for playing Willy Wonka in the titular 1971 film, as well as for having roles in the Mel Brooks comedies The Producers and Young Frankenstein.

Wilder was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 1989, but had been in remission since 2000. Wilder's nephew Jordan Walker-Pearlman told Variety the actor died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease at his home in Stamford, Connecticut. Jeva Lange

3:12 p.m. ET
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Children in Greensville, South Carolina, are claiming that a clown is trying to lure them into the forest, CBS News reports. "There has been several conversations and a lot of complaints to the office regarding a clown or person dressed in clown clothing … trying to lure children into the woods," the property manager of Fleetwood Manor wrote to residents in a letter, which requested that if the clown was spotted, residents immediately call the police.

Greensville County deputies said that a woman and her son reported seeing "a clown in the woods" around 8:30 p.m. on Aug. 21. Another witness said she saw a clown near the garbage dumpster, and that the clown waved at her, she waved back, but the clown did not walk toward her. Some children additionally reported that "several clowns" had tried to pursue them into the woods with money, CBS News reports, although the Greensville County Sheriff's Office said it only has one filed incident report about the clown sightings.

"Witnesses told investigators that they believed the clowns lived in a nearby home, but a deputy wrote in the Aug. 21 police report that he followed a trail through the woods to the home and found no evidence related to the clown sightings," CBS News writes. Jeva Lange

2:26 p.m. ET

Nobody exactly enjoys jury duty, but fulfilling one's civic duty is certainly a little better when you're doing it with Taylor Swift:

The formerly Nashville-based singer reported to the local courthouse Monday morning after conspicuously missing Sunday night's VMAs — although her early morning roll call in Tennessee likely played a major part in her absence.

The photos aren't even illegal since they were taken while the jurors were waiting in the jury assembly room. Selfie away, everyone! Jeva Lange

1:47 p.m. ET
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The numbers of tourists heading to Spain, Portugal, and other sunny European nations have increased up to 30 per­cent this year compared with 2015, CNN reports. Experts say travelers are eager to avoid destinations seen as potential terrorist targets. France, the world's top destination for international travelers, has seen visitor spending falling for the last year, perhaps due to the rash of terrorist attacks it experienced in recent months. Egypt has experienced a nearly 50 per­cent drop in visitors this year. The Week Staff

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