Business

Judge rules against Koch in media spoof

A federal judge in Utah has ruled for the environmental pranksters behind a media hoax targeting Wichita-based Koch Industries. The decision upholds First Amendment protection for anonymous political speech on the Internet.

Koch filed suit over a bogus website and fake December news release that falsely announced the company was changing its financial commitments on climate change to fund groups that are more environment-friendly.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball threw out Koch's lawsuit seeking the activists' identities. The judge also rejected all of Koch's legal claims and issued an order barring it from using any identifying information it already obtained by a subpoena.

The pranksters were represented by Public Citizen Litigation Group, which argued the conduct was protected political speech.

—Associated Press

Dedication planned for restoration center

The Kansas Aviation Museum will hold an open house and dedication of its new Aircraft Restoration Center on Thursday.

The facility was made possible by Spirit AeroSystems' donation of 15 acres of land to the museum in February, museum officials said. Museum staff and volunteers have rehabilitated three of four buildings on the land for use as the restoration center.

The open house will run from 4 to 7 p.m. with a dedication ceremony at 5:30 p.m.

The museum will host tours of the new facility. Beer, brats, slaw, beans and corn on the cob will be served from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Music will be provided by Honky Tonk Devils from 4 to 6 p.m. Custom street rods built by museum volunteers will also be on display.

—Molly McMillin

H&R Block may have to buy back mortgages

Shares of H&R Block led the S&P 500 downward Monday on renewed fears that the company will be dragged back into the subprime mortgage mess.

News that a group of mortgage bond investors may try to force H&R Block's former mortgage unit to buy back potentially billions of dollars in defaulted home loans sent shares sliding nearly 8 percent.

The mortgages written by Block's former Option One unit, which stopped issuing new loans in December 2007, have been a recurring issue for investors in recent years, but one that had been discounted lately.

At the end of its fiscal third quarter in March, then-CEO Alan Bennett said the unit created to deal with the remaining mortgage issues, Sand Canyon Corp., had $131 million in reserve to cover potential claims, and that claims were coming in "within reserved expectations."

The exact amount of loans in question is not yet known.

Dallas attorney Talcott Franklin said he is still bringing together the group of investors in mortgage bonds backed by bad Option One loans. Once it is assembled, the group will press H&R Block to repurchase the soured agreements. "At this stage you don't really know what you have, until you actually get confirmation of those holdings," he said.

Some analysts have estimated the bonds purchased by banks and other non-government entities could add up to as much as $100 billion.

—Associated Press

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