Emily Flynn

Stories by Emily Flynn Vencat

  • Private Islands for Super Rich

    The superrich are finding new ways to set themselves apart. It's not just clubs, resorts and Gulfstreams. Now there are private concerts, stores—and islands.
  • Media Meccas

    Mideast nations eager to develop entertainment hubs are pouring money into Hollywood.
  • A Day of Reckoning for Gen-Yers

    Gen-Yers say they are willing to make financial sacrifices to make the world a better place. But how long can they really expect to work less, volunteer more--and count on their aging parents to push back retirement?
  • A Muslim Letter to Christians

    In an unprecedented letter, Muslim leaders across the globe invite the world's Christians to the table.
  • The Fight Over Online Casinos

    An unlikely trade dispute between the U.S. and Antigua over online gaming has turned into a David-and-Goliath battle, proving small nations can wield large digital sticks.
  • Global Education: Is the West Losing Its Lead?

    It looks like a rock video. as techno music pounds in the background, attractive young Asians break-dance, play guitar and pump their fists in the air. Yet this is no dance track. It's an ad: part of the U.S. government's new campaign to attract Chinese students to U.S. colleges and universities. The video—which has been shown to more than 180 million Chinese TV viewers since November—also features students taking notes in class, playing in a marching band and cheerleading. The message: America loves Chinese students. It's the first time in history that Washington has actively marketed its education system overseas, says Frank Lavin, U.S. secretary for international trade, who is heading the campaign. "Attracting the best students from around the world is more competitive than ever," explains Lavin, "So we are making a special effort to reach out."They're not the only ones. The days are long gone when the world's best schools—Harvard and Yale, Cambridge and Oxford—could rest on...
  • Is Oxford Still the 'Best University'?

    As the chairman of the admissions committee at Oxford University, Sir Tim Lankester knows just how hard students fight to win spots at the world’s best colleges. But, over the last few years, he has also been on the cutting edge of the increasingly tough battle between universities to woo the world’s best students as more top institutions spring up everywhere from Australia to China. Lankester, who is also the president of Oxford’s Corpus Christi College, spoke to NEWSWEEK’s Emily Flynn Vencat. Excerpts: ...
  • Probing the British Terror Plot

    Britain's terrorist threat level was downgraded July 4, as the focus of the fast-moving investigation into the attempted London and Glasgow car bombings moved abroad. British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith's decision to lower the threat from “critical” to "severe" indicates that authorities believe they have arrested all of the suspects from the failed bombings. Reflecting the more relaxed mood, the "Docs of War" plot dropped off the front pages of Britain's newspapers this morning for the first time in nearly a week.Explaining the reduced threat level, Smith said last night that the "very latest intelligence" showed no indication that another attack is expected imminently. But she still urged the public to "remain vigilant." The move was based on an assessment by the British government's Joint Terrorism Analysis Center, and considered factors including capability, intent and timescale, Smith said.While Britain may be relaxing a bit, other countries believed to be implicated in the...
  • Russian Art Is Hot Stuff

    Art sales aren't usually raucous affairs. But last week's Russian-art auction at Sotheby's in London was an exception. In a heated battle for one painting, a private Russian buyer playfully threatened to strike his contender before winning with a $2.5 million bid—more than double its estimated value. Moments earlier, a huge turquoise pet parrot broke free from its owner's bejeweled shoulder, flying madly around the room. "It wouldn't be a Russian show without something like that happening," said the auctioneer.Sotheby's should know. Thanks to the nouveau Russian rich, Russian art has become the single hottest commodity at auction houses. Sotheby's has already moved more than $100 million of Russian art since January, putting it on pace to trounce last year's record total of $150 million. Last week Christie's in London held its first-ever summer Russian sale, fetching an impressive $36 million, and setting a new world record for the highest price ever paid for a painting in a Russian...
  • Good News About the Falling Dollar

    Not so long ago, a single dollar was considered a pretty good tip for bellhops around the world. But lately, Megan Carrella, a 34-year-old New York executive who travels regularly from Mexico to Greece for business, has found hotel help less enthusiastic about her usual palm. She's taken to handing out at least two or three greenbacks to guarantee good service. "People used to really smile when you gave them a dollar," she says. "Now it seems almost like an insult."Bellhops aren't the only ones whose love affair with the dollar is over. Since the dollar's peak in February 2002, it has now fallen 20 percentage points against a basket of global currencies including the rupee, Canadian dollar and real, with 3 percent of that fall coming in the past three months. Countries all over the world are dropping their local currency pegs to the dollar, and eurobonds are beginning to compete with the almighty T-bill as a reserve currency in places like Russia and Sweden. There's even a movement...
  • Cybertours: Climbing the Highest Peaks—from Home

    The sun is shining and the waves are lapping at the sand. Just beyond the lounge chairs and palm trees, a gaggle of beautiful people with perfect tans and lush hair gyrate to music wafting from a pair of seaside speakers. It is, in short, a dream holiday. What's more, it's free, 100 percent ecofriendly and available any time to anyone with a broadband connection.Old-fashioned travelers might bristle at the fact that this is a cyberspace beach resort, and the beauties dancing on the sand are actually the animated avatars of people sitting behind computer screens (and probably wearing sweat pants). But to the more than 5 million players in the absorbing world of the online game Second Life (SL), where the shimmering oasis exists, this is nothing less than a real vacation. Cyber-resorts, they argue, come with all the escapist benefits of any real-world holiday: a new perspective, stunning scenery and plenty of ready romance. But these vacations also promise things that real travel can...
  • Disquieting Disclosures in London Terror Trial

    Britain's law-enforcement agencies did well to uncover a terror plan aimed at killing thousands. But the conviction of the plotters has raised questions about whether police missed a chance to prevent the 7/7 mass-transit attack of 2005.
  • Climate Change and the Economy

    For centuries, the iconic trading floor at Lloyd's of London, the world's largest insurance market, has bustled with pin-striped underwriters whose job it is to predict the future. They used to use painstakingly detailed 50-year averages to forecast looming natural disasters. Then the hurricanes of 2004 and 2005 hit, blowing the old averages out of the water. In less than two years, seven out of the 10 costliest storms in history ravaged the U.S. coast; in 2005 alone, they cost Lloyd's syndicates and other insurers almost $60 billion—a number at the very top of their worst-case scenarios."When something extreme happens as a result of climate change, we're the ones who have to pick up the tab," says Lloyd's chairman, Peter Levene. Accordingly, the insurance company has warned in a recent report that unless it and its competitors start making better use of climate-change predictions, the whole industry could collapse.To make sure it doesn't, Lloyd's has undergone a remarkable...
  • Barbarians Calling: Bonjour to Buyouts

    Europeans have always been unsettled by brass-knuckles capitalism. So it's no surprise that a recent rash of multibillion-dollar private-equity bids have caused quite a stir. Over the last few weeks, firms like Britain's J. Sainsbury supermarkets and Alliance Boots pharmacy chain have become targets for American leveraged-buyout firms like Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Blackstone, as well as homegrown players like the U.K.'s Permira. Unionists, who regularly grouse about buyout-related job cuts, have begun lobbying governments to cut the tax breaks raiders get on their massive loans. Last month, banner-toting protesters at private equity's annual conference in Frankfurt gave funds a clear message: "Slam the door as you leave the EU!"No chance of that. Last year European private-equity funds raised $114 billion, more than double the 2004 figure. This year the number will likely rise to $130 billion. While the biggest deals are still done in the United States experts say Europe is...
  • Airbus: Headed for a Breakup

    It's hard to believe that just a few years ago, Airbus was cracking open the champagne to claim victory over U.S. rival Boeing. Talk about celebrating too soon. Over the past year, the company has run through three bosses and its shares have plummeted 30 percent. Following announcements of 10,000 job cuts and several possible factory sell-offs, European unionists responded last week with spectacular strikes. At Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, 15,000 protesters marched, waving banners that asked: is there a pilot on the plane?In fact, the company has been on autopilot for the past six years. Airbus's problems stem from three long-term issues: disastrous management, a politically motivated reluctance to downsize or outsource and a failing gamble on the biggest plane in history. The troubles came to the fore last summer, when the company was forced to admit that its new megajet, the A380, had technical problems and couldn't be delivered on time, costing the company billions.Since then...
  • Q&A: Private-Equity Barbarians

    The so-called barbarians—private-equity firms with their eyes on big targets—are no longer at the gates. They're knocking them down. Last month, Blackstone bought out New York real-estate group Equity Office for $39 billion in the biggest private-equity deal in history. Soon after, KKR and Texas Pacific Group shattered that record with a $45 billion takeover of Texas energy firm TXU. Recent aggressive deals have prompted outcries—last week British union leaders branded private-equity firms "immoral asset strippers." To get a sense of the industry's future, NEWSWEEK's Emily Flynn Vencat spoke to David Rubenstein, a founding partner of the Carlyle Group, one of the elite private-equity firms. Excerpts: ...
  • Global Warming: No Easy Fix

    Global warming isn't the only debate that may be over. Governments and policymakers around the world also seem to have settled on a solution. "A responsible approach to solving this crisis," Al Gore said recently at New York University's Law School, would be "to authorize the trading of emissions ... globally." Emissions trading, also called carbon trading, is being expanded in the European Union and Japan. And in many places where it's yet to take hold, like Sacramento, Sydney and Beijing, politicians are embracing it. Nicholas Stern, former chief economist of the World Bank and Europe's foremost political expert on global warming, predicts that the value of carbon credits in circulation, now about $28 billion, will climb to $40 billion by 2010.This should be great news for the environment, but many experts have their doubts. The notion that emissions trading is going to make a significant dent in global warming is deeply flawed, they say. Current emissions-trading schemes have...
  • Europe's Fallen Angels

    It's no secret that emerging markets have had an easy ride for the last few years, as the search for double-digit profit margins has pushed investors into riskier areas. Foreign direct investment in developing countries reached $542 billion in 2005, up 37 percent year-on-year. The numbers are stellar, so much so that many economists have begun taking bets on which country will be the first to falter. But instead of the usual suspects in Asia or Latin America, many experts are pointing to Eastern Europe. There, states like Poland and Hungary, long buffered by their EU membership, are in danger of losing their economic halos as a combination of populist governments, reform fatigue and chronic overspending threaten their prosperity. As Neil Shearing, an analyst at London-based Capital Economics, puts it, "All the dynamics are there for a complete meltdown."You wouldn't guess it at first glance. The four biggest economies to join the EU in 2004--the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and...
  • The Big Power Shift

    The official theme for last year's World Economic Forum in Davos was "The Creative Imperative." But chitchat in the hallways and hotel suites of the glittery Swiss resort centered on the rise of China and India as the century's new superpowers. As the world's top bankers, CEOs, think tankers and statesmen gather once again for Davos 2007, it raises the question: what will the assembled movers and shakers actually be talking about?Don't anticipate a rehashing of the already tired idea that power is geographically shifting from West to East. (If it is.) Instead, expect talk to focus on the way power is slipping its traditional institutional bonds--from the domain of nation-states and megacorporations, say--and into the hands of the masses. From the few to the many, in other words, thanks to the accelerating digital revolution. "When we say 'the shifting power equation'," says Jonathan Schmidt, director of the World Economic Forum, "what we mean is that power has dispersed." Think...
  • Netting Friends Online

    Like millions of teenagers around the world, Sue Bloom spends several hours socializing online every day. She posts pictures, meets new friends, updates her blog and runs a popular online photography group with almost 500 members. The only thing is, Bloom isn't a teenager or a twentysomething college student--she's a 58-year-old art historian. And the brand-new site where she hangs out, Eons.com, is for baby boomers (and older) only: you have to be at least 50 to join. "Social-networking sites are wonderful for people of my generation," says Bloom, who lives in Maryland. "We've always been really social, and they're all about developing a community."Forget teen haunt Xanga and college-student staple Facebook. Online social networking isn't just for youngsters anymore. Of course, only 1 million of the more than 215 million social networkers regularly active today are older than 50. But by the end of the year that number could explode to 20 million, says a new study from global...
  • 30 Days

    Saddam Hussein appears to be reaching the end of his rope. On Tuesday, Iraq’s highest appeals court upheld Saddam’s death sentence for committing crimes against humanity. This means that under Iraqi law the deposed president is to be hanged within 30 days for ordering the execution of 148 Shias in the village of Dujail in 1982.Experts agree that the appeals court decision marks the likely last resort for Saddam. If correct, it will be the final chapter in a trial, which, since it began in October 2005, has been characterized by many authorities worldwide as a farce for its soapboxing defendant, inadequately protected defense team (three of Saddam’s lawyers were murdered during the course of the trial) and what some legal critics saw as a weak application of the principle of a defendant’s presumed innocence.Like the trial itself, the appeals court ruling has run into controversy. Human-rights groups claim the speedy ruling was plagued by government bias, while some international...
  • The Heir-In-Waiting

    Vittorio Colao is the man who might have been king of the world's biggest mobile-phone company, Vodafone, and might still be. As Vodafone stumbled under falling revenues and a plummeting share price last summer, angry shareholders were braying for the head of CEO Arun Sarin. He had declared the future of profit from voice calls bright, only to see it dim rapidly. Sarin responded by wooing back Colao, a former Vodafone star who had gone on to become CEO of Italian media group RCS, as his right-hand man and de facto heir apparent. The move worked so well, turning Vodafone stock around overnight, that the Sarin to Colao handover has been put on indefinite hold.That leaves Colao in an interesting spot. As head of Vodafone's European division, which accounts for 80 percent of its revenue, he faces multiple dilemmas: how to raise revenue in a mature European market when voice revenues are falling and competition is growing. Colao gets high marks from analysts for his early moves,...
  • Getting Back On Track

    You'd never guess that Mishal Husain is on maternity leave. It's 9:30 on a Tuesday morning, and the attractive 33-year-old BBC World News presenter boasts perfectly coifed hair and is already on top of the day's headlines. Sitting at her dining table in London's chic Hampstead neighborhood with her 4-month-old twins and 2-year-old son, she speaks as assuredly about politics as playpens, and exudes a newscaster's cool confidence even while reading "Where's Wally?" to her kids.That's no accident. Although the British-Pakistani Husain has taken off 13 months over the past two years to raise her children, she has never considered it a career break. "I've thought of maternity leave as an opportunity to do a couple things I never get to do in my day job," she says. In addition to spending time with her children, that has included presenting a popular British breakfast show and several Christmas specials.Not long ago, women who took family leave checked out completely--and often never...
  • Revenge of the Euro

    The crowds mobbing new York's most famous toy store buzz in European accents this year. Inspired by the rise of the euro--which shot up an additional 3 percent last week, to a 20-month high of $1.32--the Germans, French and Spanish are making transatlantic trips to stock Santa's sack at FAO Schwarz, picking up everything from arcade games to toy trains for what in effect is a one-third discount. No question: Europe is feeling the power of the euro, and enjoying the fall of the dollar.Sure, France's Finance minister, Thierry Breton, called for "vigilance" against the rising euro, lest it undercut European exports. But Nout Wellink, the head of the Dutch central bank and a member of the European central bank's rate-setting body, dismissed the French call as a "Pavlovian response" to a development that, in fact, confirms the rising strength of Europe itself. The Paris-based Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development once again lowered its 2007 growth forecast for the United...
  • Communication: Virtual Meeting

    This isn't your father's videoconferencing--it's more like sitting across the table from somebody a thousand kilometers away. Cisco's TelePresence, launched in October, uses ultra-high-definition life-size screens (double the image quality of high-definition televisions), lag-free voice-over-Internet protocol, complex camera angles and movie-set lighting. The result is a kind of virtual boardroom. Although it's not quite good enough to establish eye-contact (remote users appear to be looking at your ear, not your eyes), the connection is uncannily human. The system costs $225,000 per room, but Cisco says it will save money on air travel. "TelePresence is as much a change in organization structure as it is a technology," says Cisco CEO John Chambers. Of course, that's what technologists said 20 years ago about the original videoconferencing, but you've got to figure that eventually they'll get it right.
  • The New Coal Car

    Powering cars with coal might seem like a recipe for ecological disaster. But if fuel experts are right, a liquefied form of the notoriously dirty mineral will be providing much of the world with its transport fuel within the next two decades. The coal miner's equivalent of turning straw into gold, liquid coal enables cars, trains and even jets designed to burn oil to run on coal instead. And, says its cheering squad, it does so in a way that's green, economical and widely available.Liquefied coal is nothing new. First developed by German scientists in the 1920s, it helped power the Nazi war machine. But until recently, turning coal to liquid (a method known as CTL) was prohibitively expensive. For two decades, until 2003, oil prices averaged $25 a barrel, making $45-a-barrel liquid coal out of the question economically. But now, with oil prices staying consistently above the $60-a-barrel mark and the environment high on everyone's agenda, liquid coal is rebranding itself as the...
  • The Great Job Machine

    Despite its laggard reputation, Europe continues to grow faster, and create more jobs, than America.

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