Frank Langfitt

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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.

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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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.

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.

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