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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

1:52 p.m. ET
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If you're single this Valentine's Day, your wallet is probably thanking you. The 54.8 percent of American consumers celebrating the holiday in 2016 are expected to combine for $19.7 billion in spending, according to the National Retail Federation.

Here are some of the popular items people are springing for:

Restaurants and show tickets: $4.5 billion

Jewelry: $4.4 billion

Apparel: $2 billion

Flowers: $1.9 billion

Candy: $1.7 billion

Greeting cards: $1.1 billion

Jennifer Lopez may have been wrong about the cost of love. Julie Kliegman

1:19 p.m. ET

Saturday Night Live always puts its all into Beyoncé humor, and their take on her release of "Formation" was no exception. The single is a celebration of black women and an ode to the Black Lives Matter movement. Some white people (cough, Rudy Giuliani) weren't too pleased with her single and subsequent Super Bowl halftime performance.

Here's SNL's glorious take on what happens when white people realize a popular song isn't made for them. Julie Kliegman

12:30 p.m. ET
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In an online poll released Sunday by CBS News and YouGov, Donald Trump holds a 22-point lead over Ted Cruz in South Carolina, the next Republican primary state. Trump notched 42 percent of the support among likely primary voters to Cruz's 20. Marco Rubio followed with 15 percent.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton leads Bernie Sanders, 59 percent to 40 percent.

The poll's margin of error is 5.7 percentage points for the Republican contest and 8.7 percentage points for the Democratic one. The poll was conducted before Saturday night's debate in Greenville. Julie Kliegman

11:55 a.m. ET

If you saw Deadpool this weekend, you're not alone. Marvel's X-Men spinoff has brought in an estimated $135 million at the box office since its Thursday night release, The Wall Street Journal reports.

This was by no means a guaranteed hit — Fox budgeted the Ryan Reynolds flick at just $58 million, which is less than a third of what most other superhero movies cost.

The previous Presidents Day weekend box office record belonged to Fifty Shades of Grey, at $93 million in 2015. By weekend's end, Deadpool will likely surpass $150 million. Julie Kliegman

11:41 a.m. ET

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) vowed Sunday on ABC's This Week to filibuster any nominee President Obama puts forth to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court bench.

"This is a 5-4 court — the next election needs to be a referendum on the court," Cruz said. "People need to decide."

Other Republicans in the Senate have made similar calls, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Meanwhile, Obama said Saturday he'll name a nominee soon, and Democrats like Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. Elizabeth Warren are urging their colleagues to approve him or her before Obama leaves office.

"I don't think the American people want a court that will strip our religious liberties," Cruz said. "I don't think the American people want a court that will mandate unlimited abortions on demand, partial birth abortion with taxpayer funding and no parental notification, and I don't think the American people want a court that will write the Second Amendment out of the Constitution."

Watch Cruz's interview here. Julie Kliegman

11:03 a.m. ET

Saturday night's Republican presidential debate in South Carolina may have been the rowdiest yet, and not just on the part of the candidates. Here are some of the people and things the crowd deemed worthy of booing:

Facts: When Ted Cruz falsely claimed no Supreme Court justices have been appointed during election years in the last 80 years, moderator John Dickerson pointed out Anthony Kennedy. "I just want to get the facts straight for the audience," Dickerson said.

Donald Trump: In a tiff with Jeb Bush, Trump criticized his brother, former President George W. Bush, saying "How did he keep us safe? The World Trade Center came down."

Donald Trump, again: In another tiff with Bush (surprise, surprise), Trump said he was wrong about the billionaire's close ties to Russia.

Donald Trump, for a change: In the same exchange, Trump responded to the booing by claiming the jeers came from lobbyists supporting Bush.

Viewers were understandably a little perplexed by all of the booing.

If you missed out, here's a nice supercut of the most memorable sound from Saturday night. Julie Kliegman

10:01 a.m. ET

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Zach LaVine topped the Orlando Magic's Aaron Gordon in Saturday's Verizon Slam Dunk Contest. It's the second year in a row LaVine has won the All-Star weekend event, a feat only three other players in history — including Michael Jordan — have managed.

"There was some stuff that's never been done before. I don't want to get into the greats — Mike, they're in a different breath," LaVine said. "If you really look at it as a whole, we were doing dunks that professional dunkers take four or five tries to do, and we were doing it on the first try. It was ridiculous, man."

In the second tiebreaker, LaVine sealed his victory with a between-the-legs dunk from the free-throw line. Watch below. Julie Kliegman

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