With its roots in the aftermath of World War II, the European Union grew from a trading community of six nations in 1958 to a sprawling bloc of 28 today. Collectively, the EU countries make up the worlds second biggest economy, and most of its members use a common currency -- the euro.

After Brexit, the EU will lose its second biggest economy (after Germany) and fourth biggest paymaster -- and one of its most powerful advocates for free trade.

Perhaps most ominously, Brexit also reverses the EU drive for ever closer union, one of its founding principles. If Britain can pull out, whos next?

The shock comes at a time when the foundations of the EU are already looking shaky. Right wing politicians in France and the Netherlands have called for their own referendums on membership. Italys Five Star movement, which is gaining support in major cities, wants a vote on the euro.

At a time of crisis in many areas of the EU, [Brexit] poses significant ... threats both to economic and monetary union, and to the survival of the EU itself, said David Marsh, managing director of think tank OMFIF.

So why is Europe so vulnerable?

1. The economy isnt delivering

Two recessions in the last seven years have left deep scars across the region. Economic growth is picking up, but its way below the rates of expansion seen before the global financial crisis struck in 2008.

Jobs are slowly being created, but more than 21 million Europeans -- 9% -- are still without work. Unemployment continues to blight the lives of millions of young people in countries such as France, Spain, Italy and Greece.

The European Central Bank, Europes equivalent to the Federal Reserve, is pumping hundreds of billions of euros into the economy to get things moving. But it cant do all the heavy lifting, and ECB President Mario Draghi has called again and again for EU governments to make their economies more dynamic.

Thats easier said than done. France recently made relatively modest attempts to make its laws more business friendly, triggering huge protests.

EU leaders said Friday they regretted Britains decision to leave but would be united in their response.

Together we will address our common challenge to generate growth, increase prosperity and ensure a safe and secure environment for our citizens, the four presidents of the EUs political institutions said in a statement.

2. The euro is flawed

Europes currency survived a serious scare a few years back, thanks in part to powerful intervention by Draghi.

But many countries using the euro are still carrying huge debt -- a handful have borrowed a worrying 100% or more of their GDP -- and are locked into EU rules that limit their ability to spend money to boost growth.

The one size fits all policy on interest rates for the 18 euro nations is also creating huge strains. The flood of central bank cash helps weaker economies but has been attacked in Germany for hurting savers by driving rates below zero.

One of the euros problems is that it is not backed by a single government that can set taxes, borrow money, and move funds around to help poorer states.

France has in the past called for a eurozone government, but Germany is deeply opposed to the idea. Finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said this month that responding to Brexit with more EU integration would be crazy.

And German Chancellor Angela Merkel cautioned on Friday against jumping to quick conclusions.

We also need to acknowledge we are faced with lots of doubts about the direction of Europe ... not just in the UK but in other countries as well, Merkel told reporters. We need to ensure that the European people feel that the European Union wants to improve all of our lives.

3. Terror and migration strain union

Terror attacks and the worlds worst refugee crisis in 70 years are rattling another of Europes pillars -- the free movement of people.

Under the EUs Schengen agreement dating back 30 years, 400 million residents, plus many non-EU nationals, business travelers and tourists, should be able to move freely across thousands of miles from the Russian border to the Atlantic coast of France or Portugal.

But the arrival in the EU of more than one million refugees and migrants last year, and terror attacks in Paris and Brussels, have placed the agreement under unprecedented strain. Germany and other Schengen countries have introduced emergency border controls. Theyre likely to remain in place at least until the end of this year.

If other crises -- a euro crisis, a Schengen crisis, a Trump presidency -- get layered on top of Brexit, there is a real danger of collapse, said Mark Leonard, director of the European Council on Foreign Relations.



Whether schools in the metro-east open in August depends largely on two factors: The state passing a budget, which will allow districts to get their money; and what actions the school boards have taken to save or borrow money over the last few years.

Even districts that say they will open on planned start dates are concerned about how long they can stay open.

"I still, in my mind, cannot believe that either side would not let schools open over this fight," said Art Ryan, superintendent of Cahokia District 187.

He's not the only hopeful one.



Chinese university students are using their own nude photos as collateral to borrow money from loan sharks, with the help of the countrys boomingbut largely unregulatedonline lending market.

Female university students in China are asked to send nude photos of themselves, holding their ID cards, to online lenders, to borrow thousands of yuan. The lenders threaten to contact their parents and make their photos public if they fail to pay back the loans, Southern Metropolis Daily reported (link in Chinese) this week.

One student who was identified as Li Li, told the newspaper that she first borrowed just 500 yuan ($76)at a weekly interest rate of 30%from a lender on Jiedaibao, an online peer-to-peer lending platform owned by Beijing-based private equity fund JD Capital. After paying old loans by taking out new ones, Li said now she owes 55,000 yuan, and the lender is threatening to post her naked photos online.

These loans typically range from 500 yuan to 5,000 yuan, and carry a 30% weekly interest rate, even though interest rates for personal loans are capped at 24% annually, the Southern Metropolis Daily said.



To be honest, Claudia Jordan really left no impression on me during her one-season stint on Real Housewives of Atlanta. She was just kind of there. Sure, she argued with NeNe Leakes on vacation, but I don’t feel like that was really about something. She was just jumping on the I hate NeNe bandwagon. 

Then I was one of the few people who caught some episodes of her on The Next Fifteen which I only watched to see my beloved TIffany Pollard aka New York back on TV. But anyway, Claudia was super arrogant and all of the cast ended up despising her. I have no idea who she thinks she is or what industry experience she was bragging about all the time, but she sure thinks a lot of herself. And she just went off on a super intense Instagram rent.

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I have no idea why Claudia decided to air out her laundry on Instagram, but she posted a weird photo of a duck with text over it that says, If you ever have borrow money from somone dont let them have to remind you to pay them back. No, I didn’t mistype that. She decided to send a message with a grammatically incorrect meme to get her point across. So it’s pretty hard for me to take her seriously.