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"I just hope this doesn't cast a bad light on sham marriages." -- Jay Leno, speaking about the Fox network's Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire?Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top

Democratic Rule for the Net

Founded by ex-President Jimmy Carter to watch elections in the likes of East Timor, the Carter Center has never seen anything like this before. At the end of February, a grand experiment in democracy begins on the Web. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names & Numbers, a global nonprofit set up in 1998 to administer Web addresses, is seeking Netizens around the world to elect a board of directors by September.

Yet there are few formal election rules so far--and millions of Net users with an interest in domain names. ICANN Chairperson Esther Dyson wants a broad-based membership of at least 5,000 people to elect an at-large council that then chooses directors. (Those who want to be members can register at ICANN's Web site.)

Will this free-form democracy work? "Nobody has ever tried to do anything like this," says ICANN CEO Michael Roberts. The Carter Center, along with other groups, will issue a report on the election before ICANN's March meeting in Cairo. That's safer duty, no doubt, than monitoring elections in some global hot spot.By Catherine Yang; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top

Call Him the

It seems hell hath no fury like a talking head/financial columnist/money manager whose stock is in the tank--even if he singes a few feathers of potential suitors.'s James Cramer is blaming MarketWatch for sinking his company's stock price. And he is flaming CNBC over ethics.

He's particularly upset with MarketWatch, even though one well-placed source says MarketWatch is in discussions with Cramer's investment banker. "CBS MarketWatch tried to drive our stock down as low as possible and buy us," Cramer told BUSINESS WEEK. "If that's their game plan, you can forget about it." Stock of, whose IPO was priced at 19 last May, and which hit its high of 71 1/4 the day it began trading, closed at a low of 12 1/2 on Feb. 23.

When asked how MarketWatch had accomplished such a feat, Cramer, who is known for his off-the-cuff remarks, lit into CBS MarketWatch editor Thom Calandra: "There are a series of things a company can do to manipulate a stock down. Why don't you ask them? Thom Calandra can't keep his mouth shut and tries to attack us every day."

Larry Kramer, CEO of MarketWatch, denied trying to drive the stock down. Joel Krasner, an analyst at First Albany who follows both companies, agrees: "I've never observed any negativity toward on behalf of MarketWatch."

On Feb. 16, said it had hired Wasserstein Perella to seek strategic partnerships or buyers. Besides MarketWatch, other potential buyers include the New York Times Co., which is already an investor in, News Corp.'s Fox, and CNBC, a unit of General Electric.

Ironically, CNBC has come in for a lashing from Cramer in recent columns for allowing guests to promote small-cap stocks that they had invested in. He was particularly critical of a January segment in which Gregg Hymowitz, a money manager with EnTrust Capital, "pumped" Epicor Software. An EnTrust spokesman said the firm did not trade on the basis of the appearance.

Sound familiar? Cramer admits that he is still smarting from an incident in 1998 when he was accused of bashing a stock he had shorted, prompting CNBC to suspend him from its "Squawk Box" segment. "I made a mistake, but I paid for it in a way that still gets my back up," he says.By Marcia Vickers; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top

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