IN THE NEWS TODAY
At least 12 people were killed and four people were critically injured in a blaze at a Bronx apartment building late last night in what New York Mayor Bill de Blasio called the city's worst fire tragedy in a quarter-century. (NBC News)
Police are promising a bigger security detail than ever before in Times Square for this year's New Year's Eve celebration after the U.S. saw a number of deadly attacks on innocent crowds, including at the major tourist intersection. (AP)
After a chilly forecast for the East Coast this New Year's Eve, President Donald Trump tweeted that perhaps the U.S. "could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming." Trump has previously called climate change "nonsense." (Washington Post)
* Why it's cold right now and climate change is still real (USA Today)
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that his state will consider a legal challenge to the Republican tax law, which is set to take effect in the coming days. He targeted the planned limits on state and local tax deductions. (CNBC)
* Last-minute rush to prepay taxes gives way to confusion and anger (NY Times)
President Trump said special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation makes the U.S. "look very bad" and puts the country in a "very bad position." But the president also said he believes Mueller will treat him fairly. (NY Times)
Russia could host talks between the U.S. and North Korea if Moscow is asked to do so, according to a report. That came a day after Trump criticized China about reports it allowed oil to go to North Korea. (Reuters)
The Trump administration is poised to roll back offshore drilling safety regulations that were put in place after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico that killed 11 people and caused the worst oil spill in American history. (NY Times)
* Administration to rescind rules for oil, gas drilling on government lands (USA Today)
Venezuela said it plans to launch within days a cryptocurrency backed by 5.3 billion barrels of oil worth $267 billion, in a bid to offset a deep financial crisis. There's skepticism among crypto experts about whether Venezuela has the technical ability to pull it off. (Reuters)
Uber and SoftBank have agreed to a long-awaited tender offer, in a deal that would value Uber at $48 billion, about a 30 percent discount to the company's $68 billion valuation from June 2016. The deal has long been expected. (CNBC)
Jewelry store Claire's pulled some of its glittery items after allegations that they include asbestos, and is offering refunds. The American retailer of accessories and jewelry said it is hiring an independent laboratory to test the cited product. (CNBC)
STOCKS TO WATCH
Netflix (NFLX) plans to increase salaries for its top executives, according to an SEC filing. The streaming video company cited the new tax law as the reason for those raises.
Priceline Group (PCLN) and IBM (IBM) reached an agreement that resolves a patent dispute between the two companies and cross-licenses each company's patent portfolio. IBM had sued Priceline earlier this year, saying the travel website operator had willfully infringed four key IBM patents and had refused to participate in meaningful discussions.
Volkswagen (VLKAY) will petition a German court to block the appointment of a special auditor for the automaker. A lower court ordered the appointment of the auditor last month to investigate management actions regarding Volkswagen's diesel emissions scandal.
SandRidge Energy (SD) is terminating its previously announced deal to acquire Bonanza Creek Energy (BCEI). The move follows pressure from investor Carl Icahn to terminate the deal, although Icahn is not specifically mentioned in SandRidge's release which cites consultation with the company's largest shareholders. SandRidge will reimburse Bonanza up to $3.7 million in transaction-related expenses.
Huntington Ingalls (HIL) will move to the S&P 500 from the S&P MidCap 400 index. The shipbuilder will replace C.R. Bard in the S&P 500, with Bard's deal to be acquired by Becton Dickinson (BDX) on track to close today.
This weekend could see a great late holiday present for some lucky lottery players because jackpots for both Powerball and Mega Millions are over an estimated $300 million. Though some say one has better odds of being struck by lightning. (NBC News)