5 Things You Need to Know Thursday



More Americans than ever before to travel this holiday season
Ho-ho-holiday traveling? You're not alone. AAA projects 103 million Americans will travel for the holidays between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2, which the travel group said would be the most ever.  The 1.5% increase from last year would represent the eighth straight year of holiday travel growth since the Great Recession. Low gas prices (most travelers are driving, even though prices have been edging up lately) and consumer confidence are fueling the increase.


Speaking of holidays, it's a really good day to get packages in the mail
Thursday is the U.S. Postal Service's deadline for mailing standard ground packages for guaranteed Christmas Day delivery. (The FedEx deadline is Friday for standard ground packages and it's Monday for UPS, and of course, there are expedited options if you're running a little behind this year.) Still working on Christmas cards? You've got until next week to get those out. In other important holiday mail news, the deadline for most Amazon users is Saturday, but Prime users get a little extra cushion with Dec. 22 as the final day for purchases. Check out our gift guides.

Last open enrollment for Obamacare hits
Thursday is the deadline to enroll for Affordable Care Act health insurance coverage that will begin on Jan 1.  Signups gained steam earlier this month with more than 4 million people choosing 2017 plans on the federal exchange through Dec. 10. Republicans have vowed to repeal the law as soon as Congress returns in January. The plans sold on the federal and state exchanges were already priced and posted at the time of the election of Donald Trump, who also has decried the law.


Charleston church shooting case expected to go to jury
Dylann Roof is being tried in Charleston, S.C., on federal murder and hate crime charges in the shooting deaths of nine black parishioners at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on June 17, 2015. The case is expected to go the jury on Thursday after closing statements. He faces the possibility of the death penalty if convicted — a sentence that jurors would decide in a separate phase of the trial.


Now you can play Mario on your iPhone
Can't get your hands on an NES Classic? Starting Thursday you can at least play the company's first-ever smartphone game. Nintendo has been reluctant to introduce its Mario and other franchises to popular platforms like the iPhone, so Super Mario Run is a big deal. The game is among the category of running games similar to Temple Run, where the character runs on their own, and players must tap the touchscreen to jump over obstacles and swipe left or right to dodge. It's free to download, but unlocking the full game costs $9.99.