Envoy’s condition remains critical after surgery on aorta

Veteran diplomat Richard Holbrooke, a special U.S. envoy to the Afghanistan war, remained in critical condition Sunday after surgery to fix a tear in the large artery that moves blood from the heart.

President Obama said in a statement that he and first lady Michelle Obama were praying for Holbrooke’s recovery. He called Holbrooke “a towering figure in American foreign policy” who has been a critical player in developing the administration’s policy on Afghanistan.

Holbrooke, 69, underwent an additional procedure Sunday to improve circulation. 

Holbrooke was meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about midmorning Friday at the State Department when he collapsed.

A torn aorta is a condition in which a rip develops in the inner wall of the aorta, allowing blood to enter the vessel wall and weaken it. If not corrected, the condition can lead to rapid death.


A&P files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection

The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., best known to grocery shoppers as A&P, says it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The company, founded in 1859, said it will have access to $800 million in debtor-in-possession financing and that all of its 395 stores, located in eight states in the eastern U.S., are fully stocked and open for business.

The company said that it determined that it could not complete its turnaround plan without filing for bankruptcy protection.

The filing was widely anticipated. The company’s stock price fell more than 67 percent Friday, and trading was halted in the afternoon. Shares have traded between 86 cents and $13 in the past 52 weeks.

The company owns A&P, Waldbaum’s, The Food Emporium, Super Fresh, Pathmark and Food Basics grocery stores.

Competition is tough among grocers. Many shoppers have limited their spending to necessities such as food, and consequently, big retailers like Wal-Mart Stores and Target have increased their emphasis on food, creating a tougher environment for existing supermarket chains.


Obama adviser: Tax-cuts  deal will pass mostly as is

A top adviser to President Obama said Sunday that an $858 billion package of tax cuts and jobless benefits will pass Congress without major changes, despite a revolt by some House Democrats.

Ahead of a test vote in the Senate today , David Axelrod told CNN’s “State of the Union” that the administration would prevail on the deal struck with Republican lawmakers “because at the end of the day, no one wants to see taxes go up on 150 million Americans on Jan. 1.”

The No. 2 Senate Democrat, Dick Durbin of Illinois, said on CNN that a “good cross-section” of fellow Democratic senators are ready to accept the deal.

The Senate is hoping to complete work on the tax bill Tuesday, sending it to the House, where Democrats have proved less receptive to the Obama-GOP compromise.