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Behind the BlackBerry Fail

The New York Times reports that the second BlackBerry outage this week—which began on Tuesday night—made its customers terribly unhappy. The paper says, “Given their dependence on the device, it is no surprise that many BlackBerry owners are quick to complain when their smartphone fails to deliver on its promise of offering e-mail anywhere, at any time.” Research in Motion (RIMM), the company that makes the popular smartphone, responded that the troubles were caused by an “unanticipated database issue within the BlackBerry infrastructure.” The WSJ thinks that the outages are “a sign that Research In Motion is feeling the strain of a ballooning customer base and intensifying competition.”

The Journal zooms in on American International Group (AIG) chief executive Robert Benmosche. The paper says that he ,“more than any other leader of a bailed-out American company, has styled himself as a bulwark against government intrusion into the corner office. Although he sees his main mission as repaying roughly $87 billion in taxpayer money pumped into AIG, he doesn't want the government to tell him how to do his job."

Meanwhile, AIG recently conducted an internal investigation into the actions of its handful of senior executives who were worried about their own compensation limits. The Journal reports that the insurer’s general counsel along with four other employees from the insurance and financial-services units had threatened to resign and collect severance benefits if their pay was adversely affected by the pay czar’s rules.

The Federal Trade Commission wants more information about Google's (GOOG) recently proposed acquisition of mobile-advertising firm AdMob. According to the Wall Street Journal, the government’s request is likely to slow down the deal. Paul Feng, Google group product manager, blogged the following yesterday: "While this means we won't be closing right away, we're confident that the FTC will conclude that the rapidly growing mobile advertising space will remain highly competitive after this deal closes.”

The nuclear industry “is about to get a big boost,” according to today’s New York Times. The Energy Department is expected to announce “the first of $18.5 billion in loan guarantees for building new reactors” in a few days. While high costs and operating setbacks brought the American nuclear industry to its knees three decades ago, there’s a new sense of optimism and urgency in the field. Still, the paper explains that scoring funding for energy initiatives is an increasingly competitive game: “The money will flow amid a national credit squeeze and intense jockeying among the nation’s wind, solar, geothermal and nuclear sectors. Each is trying to cast itself as an ideal 'clean' energy option as the nation moves toward reining in the carbon dioxide emissions linked to global warming.”

Seventy-one-year-old convicted swindler Bernie Madoff was moved to a low-security prison medical center late last week “after experiencing dizziness and high blood pressure,” says the New York Times. Madoff has been serving his 150-year sentence in a medium-security federal prison in Butner, N.C. The Bureau of Prisons has already refuted rumors that Madoff’s health was faltering because of cancer earlier this year.

And finally, in case you didn't get invited, Bloomberg provides this round-up of big bank holiday parties, from the subdued to the nostalgic: “While Goldman Sachs Group Inc. scrapped its holiday party for a second straight year and some JPMorgan Chase & Co. bankers had their yuletide gathering in a cafeteria, staffers of Bear Stearns Cos. reunited at a velvet- roped bar that sells bottles of Cristal champagne for $450.”

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