Bertram Rantin

Live Wire: Flu concerns take toll on a holiday tradition

- What are the dates of this year's Festival of Trees at Palmetto Health Children's Hospital?

The hospital's annual fund-raiser had been scheduled for Nov. 20-22 but will go on hiatus for 2009 because of the potential spread of swine flu.

Several cases of flu are being treated at Children's Hospital, and hospital administrators and the medical staff determined it was best not to have the event there.

Officials said the timing of the event, which coincided with the holiday season, made it impossible to secure another location.

"Although it is unknown at this time the progression of swine flu, we must prepare for the worst case scenario and put Palmetto Health patients and the community first," said Stan Hickson, hospital vice president of operations.

- Are records kept on murder trials dating to the late 1930s? If so, how would I go about obtaining one?

That would depend largely on where the trial took place. Some courts may still have those records on file, while others might not. Our best advice would be to contact the clerk of court's office in the county where the trial was held and ask about the records.

- Who, in addition to the president, receives Secret Service protection?

The list of people who receive such protection is a little longer than one might think. Here are those who qualify:

- The president, the vice president (or other official next in order of succession to the office of the president), the president-elect and the vice president-elect

- Immediate families of the above individuals

- Former presidents and their spouses, except when the spouse remarries. (Congress amended the Secret Service protection rules in 1997. Beginning with George W. Bush, ex-presidents and their families are now offered protection for only 10 years after leaving office.)

- Children of former presidents until age 16

- Visiting heads of foreign states or governments and their spouses traveling with them, other distinguished foreign visitors to the United States and official representatives of the United States performing special missions abroad

- Presidential and vice presidential candidates and, within 120 days of the general presidential election, the spouses of such candidates

- Other individuals at the direction of the president.