A quick note to the readers – you may begin seeing less content on the weekends.  Health-related issues and other life priorities have caused several writers to be unable to write on a regular basis.  The end result is that I have been writing up to 5 articles per week.  This can be a bit of a drain, and it is probably not viable long term, considering other projects underway and competing life priorities.  In the future, the weekend articles will be a bit less rigorous.  Most weekends are going to have a weekly recap on one of the days – a series of short blurbs about the news of the week.  The other day will feature a question of the week.  I’ll ask a question, give my answer, and solicit responses from readers.  On occasion, I’ll run a fiction story in place of one of these articles.  It might sound a bit counter-intuitive, but many times I can write a fiction piece faster than a non-fiction article of comparable length.

So, without further ado, comments on the news of the week:

Joran van der Sloot, the prime suspect in the disappearance and presumed murder of US teenager Natalee Holloway in Aruba in 2005, confessed to the beating death of 21 year old Stephany Flores in Peru.  Flores’ body was found in a hotel room in Peru with indications that she had been beaten to death.  If police had been able to find more evidence to tie him to Holloway’s appearance, Flores would still be alive today.  After van der Sloot’s arrest, it was revealed that the FBI had been investigating him for an plot to extort money from Natalee Holloway’s mother.  Van der Sloot claimed to have information about the location of Natalee’s body.  My hope is that the Peruvian justice system will mete out a swift and severe punishment.

I recently stumbled across an email from March of 2009 suggesting that Ford might be a good stock to buy.  The gist of my argument was that Ford’s domestic competitors were in dire straits, and that Ford would be able to swoop in and steal market share, especially from folks who are adamant about buying American.  On the day the email was sent, Ford stock closed at $2.76 per share.  At the close of the day on Wednesday, the share price was at $11.28 – more than 4 times the March 2009 level.  It’s pretty rare that I give stock tips (particularly since I’m a big fan of diversified portfolios), but I’m a bit disappointed that I didn’t take my own advice.

Another stock that might be a good buy right now?  BP.  In the last couple of months, the share price has been sliced in half.  Yes, the cleanup will be costly and the lawsuits will be numerous.  However, bear in mind that this is a company with $100 in equity (not assets, but actual equity).  Even after shelling out a hefty amount of money related to the cleanup, BP should emerge on solid financial footing.  Even a post-tax cost of $30 billion (containment, cleanup, and compensation to affected parties) would leave them with net assets of $70 billion – and most independent projection are pegging the cost at less than half this amount.  The stock currently has a PE ratio of 6 – and they pay substantial dividends.  Of course, this ignores all ethical and environmental concerns – obviously, you may choose to ignore BP stock for this reason.  I’m not defending BP – I’m just suggesting that from a pure financial sense, the investment might make sense.  Note: I am not a financial advisor.  This tip is provided for entertainment value only.  Invest at your own risk – I am not liable to losses that may result from investments in BP stock.

Stephen Strasburg lived up to the hype on Tuesday night, striking out fourteen batters and allowing just four hits against the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Strasburg and two relievers combined to strike out 17 Pirates.  On the flip side, Pirates pitchers recorded just a single strikeout in the game.  Strasburg faces off againt the Indians at noon today.

Ubaldo Jimenez struggled a bit with command of his pitches during rainy weather on Friday night, allowing 5 hits, 5 walks, and 3 runs through 6 innings.  It was good enough to allow Jimenez to notch his 12th win of the season.  Jimenez typically pitches into the 7th inning, but this game was called because of rain after six innings.  Ubaldo is 12-1 through his first 13 starts, with a 1.16 ERA.

Iowa State’s Lisa Koll (the best athlete you’ve never heard of?) won the 10,000 meters and 5,000 meters at the NCAA track meet.  Koll became the fifth fourth woman to ever achieve this historic double.  She conserved her energy in the 10K on Wednesday night, and it paid off in the 5K, as she ran away from the field – winning by 30 seconds (an enormous margin) in the 11th fastest time by a collegiate woman.  Koll will be signing with a shoe company soon, and will be setting her sights on the 2012 Olympics.