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Regal to alter theaters for wheelchairs

Compiled from wire reports The Spokesman-Review

Regal Entertainment Group, the nation’s largest movie theater chain, has agreed to alter nearly 1,000 stadium-style auditoriums so people in wheelchairs have better views, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.

In addition, all new Regal theaters will be designed with wheelchair seating in the middle or farther back. The terms are part of a settlement of a 4½-year-old lawsuit alleging the company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to give the disabled seating comparable to the general public.

Stadium-riser seating gives unobstructed views to most everyone in the theater. Critics, however, complain that those in wheelchairs are often left to crane their necks awkwardly from the less-desirable front rows.

“Opening everyday activities like a night at a movie theater to persons with disabilities is a core goal” of the landmark disabilities law, Assistant Attorney General R. Alexander Acosta said.

Regal, based in Knoxville, Tenn., operates 6,273 auditoriums in 40 states under the Regal Cinemas, United Artists Theatres and Edwards Theatres banners. About 3,500 have stadium-style seating.

HP spends millions to cut 3,000 workers

San Francisco Hewlett-Packard Co. spent about $236 million on employee severance payments and other “work force rebalancing” programs between November and April.

HP took restructuring charges of $177 million in its fiscal first quarter and $59 million in its fiscal second quarter, according to a filing Wednesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Palo Alto-based computer maker said the charges would allow it to slash its worldwide work force by approximately 3,000 employees, including 1,600 people who were laid off before April 30. The rest are expected to be terminated by October.

Despite the company’s tradition of lifetime employment in the 1980s and 1990s, HP has been downsizing for more than three years, and many rank-and-file employees have gone years without raises. Executives spearheaded a companywide wage review May 1, the first time since 2003.

Microsoft to sell Europe-friendly Windows

Redmond, Wash. Microsoft Corp. said Wednesday it will begin selling a version of its Windows operating systems without the video and music Media Player application in Europe next week.

The world’s largest software maker was forced to make the change as part of the European Union’s landmark antitrust ruling.

EU antitrust regulators fined Microsoft a record $608 million (497 million euros) last March, when they ruled that Microsoft abusively wielded its Windows monopoly and locked out competitors.

They also ordered the company to share its Windows source code with competitors who make server software so their products can better communicate with Windows-powered computers.

Microsoft will make Windows XP Home Edition N and Windows XP Professional N — the “N” stands for “not with Media Player” — available to manufacturers on June 15 in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish.

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