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Apple became the first major computer company to say it would release the programming secrets of a key operating system to software developers worldwide. But the offer to make its source code available was limited to software that runs central computers; its operating system for the Macintosh personal computer will remain secret - at least for now. The announcement gave a big lift to the "open source" movement, which tries to speed software development by enlisting the aid of volunteer programmers.

Fiber-optic provider Global Crossing Ltd. said it agreed to buy telephone carrier Frontier Corp. for $11.2 billion in stock, giving it a foothold in the US market. Purchase of the Rochester, N.Y.,-based local- and long-distance carrier by the Bermudian firm would create a company with a current market value of $30 billion.

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With two weeks to spare, members of parliament in Japan OK'd Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi's 1999-2000 budget, which calls for a record $606 billion in new government bonds to finance all his spending proposals. The overall $698 billion package is most notable for combining $85 billion in outlays for public works with $77 billion in tax cuts - all meant to reinvigorate an economy that's still mired in its worst postwar downturn.

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