Joran Van der Sloot To Plead Guilty

January 6, 2012

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Joran Van der Sloot is expected to plead guilty to charges of murder today.  He faces as much as 30 years in prison for the death of Stephany Flores.

This means that Van der Sloot, still just 24, will be released before he turns 55.  Depending on the leniency of the judge, perhaps long before then.  This disturbs me greatly.  If the allegations against Van der Sloot are true, he is a cold, calculating monster with no conscience.  Even his own mother is distancing herself from him.

Let’s do a run-down.  Note that these are all allegations – none of the charges have been proven in a court of law.

  • Van der Sloot first popped up on the radar as a 17 year old in 2005 when he was arrested for involvement in the disappearance and presumed murder of American teenager Natalee Holloway.  Holloway’s body was never found, and eventually van der Sloot was released from custody.  In my opinion, it’s unlikely that Van der Sloot will ever go on trial for Holloway’s murder.
  • In 2010, he extorted money from Beth Holloway (Natalee’s mother) in exchange for disclosing the location of Natalee’s body.  Beth and her representative participated in a sting operation, and van der Sloot got $25,000.  Before charges could be filed, van der Sloot traveled to Peru.  The information about the location of Natalee’s body was determined to be false.  Talk about rubbing salt in the wound.
  • While in Peru, he strikes up a relationship with Flores.  After spending time in a casino, they go to his hotel room early in the morning of May 30, 2010.  Violence ensues – likely due to a discussion of his involvement in Holloway’s murder – and Flores ends on the floor with a broken neck and blunt force trauma to the head.  By the time her body is discovered on June 2, van der Sloot has fled to Chile.  He was arrested on June 3 and eventually extradited to Peru.
  • And the one that nobody talks about much – his involvement in the sex trafficking trade.  An investigate report by Dutch journalist Peter R. de Vries shows that Van der Sloot, at the time an owner of a restaurant in Thailand, sold Thai girls to groups involved in the sex trafficking trade.  Van der Sloot posed as a representative of a modeling agency to lure the girls, who were shipped to the Netherlands to become sex slaves.  For his efforts, Van der Sloot received a heathy fee of $13,000 per girl.

That’s a pretty extensive resume for a 24 year old.  While Van der Sloot often seems portray a lone wolf psychopath working along, it seems unlikely that this is actually true.  It’s fairly obviously that he has cultivated some relationships with other criminals.  How else could he have possibly gotten involved in the Thai sex slave enterprise?

I’m hoping the judge decides to impose the maximum penalty of 30 years in prison – and fear the day that Van der Sloot is able to walk out of the doors a free man once again.  How many other women will he kill after his release from prison?


Weekend Wrap

June 13, 2010

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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.