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Frank Langfitt

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And I'm David Greene with a guide to this day's news. And, Steve, let's start in Paris where people yet again are dealing with the specter of terrorism.

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In the electoral battle over populism in Western democracies, the score is tied 2-2.

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President Trump has questioned the importance of NATO, the international security alliance created after World War II to counter Soviet ambitions. Trump has told other countries they should contribute more money for NATO because he thinks the U.S. pays too much.

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Today the United Kingdom formally told the European Union it is leaving, after decades of membership in the 28-nation political alliance and trading bloc. The move triggers an estimated two-year divorce process that will involve many months of tough negotiations and will launch Britain on a new, uncertain path.

Addressing the House of Commons in London, Prime Minister Theresa May said Brexit is an opportunity for her country to chart a new course, unencumbered by the bureaucracy of the multilateral organization based in Brussels.

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These are divisive times in the United Kingdom. Today, the Scottish Parliament voted to seek an independence referendum that could split the country apart. Tomorrow, the U.K. triggers Brexit, the process for breaking away from the European Union.

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Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte dealt a sharp defeat to right-wing nationalist Geert Wilders in what was seen as the first of three electoral tests of populism on the European continent this year.

Rutte's center-right VVD party took 33 out of 150 seats in the lower house of the Dutch parliament. Wilders' Party for Freedom got 20 seats and came in second.

The left-leaning Dutch Labor Party, took a major hit, losing 29 seats. The GreenLeft Party gained 10.

Updated at 1:50 a.m. ET Thursday

Early results in the Netherlands indicate Prime Minister Mark Rutte's VVD Party will win Wednesday's parliamentary election, while populist Geert Wilders' Party for Freedom will come in third. Rutte's party was on track to win 32 seats in the lower house of parliament, while Wilders' party was projected to win 19 seats.

After the United Kingdom's vote to leave the European Union and Donald Trump's U.S. victory last year, political analysts wonder if populism will gain ground on the European continent amid the impact of a migration crisis and dissatisfaction with the European Union. With elections approaching in France, Germany and the Netherlands, the question has gained urgency.

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The European Union's supporters are worried. Later this month, British Prime Minister Theresa May will start the long process of withdrawing her country from the EU. We'll hear more about that in a moment.

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Today is Pancake Day in the United Kingdom, or Shrove Tuesday, as it's known on the Christian calendar. It's a time for indulging before the beginning of Lent and, in Britain, racing around with a frying pan, flipping pancakes.

London Bridge isn't falling down, but Britain's Parliament building — which sits along the River Thames and includes Big Ben — needs a ton of work. U.K. lawmakers are now analyzing a massive rehab plan that will cost billions of dollars and could force legislators to work somewhere else for years.

As thousands protested outside the U.K. Parliament on Monday, members inside debated whether President Trump should receive the honor of meeting the queen on a state visit later this year. State visits by U.S. presidents are rare in Britain; Labour Party lawmaker Paul Flynn noted that only two — Barack Obama and George W. Bush — have made them.

The parliamentary debate was triggered by a petition opposing the state visit, signed by more than 1.8 million people. Another petition supporting a state visit garnered just over 300,000 signatures.

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