Is High Inflation Over? It Depends Who You Ask.

Illustration by The New York Times; photograph by Kateryna Kovarzh/Getty Images

Let me start with a picture, which will help frame the debate I’m about to describe. Here’s official consumer price inflation, measured over the previous six months but converted to an annual rate, since the beginning of the Biden administration:

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Why six months? It’s a compromise. Monthly numbers are too noisy: Official inflation was actually negative in December, but everyone considers that a blip. On the other hand, while news reports often cite price changes over the previous year, those numbers seem to lag too far behind a rapidly changing economy.

So, about that debate: In early 2021 some economists, most famously Larry Summers, warned that the Biden administration’s big spending package would be highly inflationary. Others — myself included, unfortunately — downplayed that risk. And as inflation accelerated over the course of 2021, we initially argued that a large part of the story involved “transitory” factors, like a shortage of shipping capacity as the world recovered from the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, and that inflation would soon reverse.

But inflation just kept rising. Team Transitory was proved wrong, and I admitted as much.

At that point, however, the debate shifted. High inflation had happened, but how hard would it be to get it down again? Again, economists took sides.

One side — call it Team Stagflation — argued that it would take years of pain and high unemployment to restore price stability, which is what happened after the high inflation of the 1970s.

The other side, call it Team Soft Landing, argued that the situation was very different this time. The conventional view among economists is that disinflation was so hard in the 1980s because high inflation had become entrenched in expectations, with companies setting prices and wages based on the belief that inflation would stay around 10 percent for the foreseeable future. In mid-2022, however, both surveys and prices in financial markets showed a widespread expectation that inflation would soon fall back to normal levels. Here’s a graph I put in my newsletter last summer:

Michigan Consumer Surveys, New York Fed

So Team Soft Landing argued that disinflation wouldn’t actually be that difficult and needn’t involve a huge surge in unemployment.

Well, as you can see from the first picture in this newsletter, official inflation rolled over in the middle of 2022, and has fallen even faster than it rose. Notably, this has happened without any significant rise in unemployment, at least so far.

This good news has led to a big role reversal in how economists talk about the situation. At this point, pessimists are arguing that the rapid decline in inflation reflects, well, transitory factors, rather than a fundamental reduction in inflation pressures. And to be fair, recent inflation numbers have been held down in part by one-time events that probably won’t continue, like falling gasoline prices and the plunging price of used cars.

On the other hand, a huge factor in recent inflation data has been high rates of increase in the official cost of shelter, which in turn mainly reflects rental rates. But this official measure lags around a year behind rents paid by new tenants — which surged in 2021-22 but have been falling in recent months.

So where does that leave us? I’d say that these various temporary factors are more or less a wash, and that underlying inflation really has come down a lot; the inflation surge may not be completely behind us, but there’s good reason to believe that we can restore price stability without huge economic pain.

But then I would say that, wouldn’t I?

To get meta for a bit here, one disturbing aspect of recent economic debate has been the consistency of many economists’ positions despite rapid changes in the economic situation: Optimists are always optimists, pessimists always pessimists. And I have to admit that I personally am part of this pattern.

Given the tendency to choose data that reinforces one’s prejudices, I’ve become nervous about using “artisanal” inflation measures that try to exclude data that may well be misleading. Can we trust people, myself included, not to pick the measures they like?

For a while I thought I could avoid this issue by focusing on growth in wages, a broad measure of how hot the economy is running. But this approach has problems, too. For one thing, the craziness of the post-pandemic economy has reshuffled the mix of high- and low-wage jobs, distorting the averages.

Beyond that (although possibly related), recently the Bureau of Labor Statistics has been making big revisions to past estimates — big enough to cause large changes in the narrative. Here’s the three-month change in average hourly earnings, as reported in three successive data releases:


The November release (the blue line) seemed to show a clear pattern of slowing inflation. Yay! Then, in December, the B.L.S. not only released a higher wage number but revised older numbers up so that the new trajectory (the red line) seemed to show inflation getting worse. Aarrgh! And then, in January, it revised the numbers again — the gray line — and the inflation trajectory looked better again. Um …

So I spent this morning trying not to drink too much coffee, waiting for the release of the Employment Cost Index, which tries to correct for changes in the job mix and is probably the best measure we have of wage pressures. And it was good.

It shows overall wages and salaries rising at a 4 percent rate, only a bit higher than they were prepandemic. Diving into the details, things look a bit better, if anything. As Mike Konczal, a leading member of Team Soft Landing, put it: “The Fed has lost its excuse for a recession.”

No doubt this debate will continue, as economic debates tend to. But I think we’re approaching the point at which Team Stagflation will have to do what Team Transitory did a while back: admit that they got it wrong, and try to figure out why.

“Here’s why Larry Summers wants 10 million people to lose their jobs.” (Not my headline.)

Another member of Team Stagflation, Mohamed El-Erian, insists that inflation will be “sticky” at 4 percent.

Team Soft Landing: The detailed case.

Olivier Blanchard — who also called inflation right — thinks Summers is wrong about future interest rates.

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Trump Moving to Mar-a-Lago May Have Given Prosecutors an Opening

Former President Donald Trump could face more legal trouble in Manhattan relating to his alleged role in a purported hush money scandal involving adult film star Stormy Daniels, and his move to Mar-a-Lago may give prosecutors an opening in the case.

On Monday, a report from The New York Times revealed that the Manhattan district attorney’s office was beginning to show evidence to a grand jury of Trump’s alleged role in payments made to Daniels.

Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, previously pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations and alleged that he was ordered by the former president to provide Daniels with the payments.

In response to the reports, Trump published several posts on his Truth Social account, mentioning the statute of limitations in New York.

“With respect to the ‘Stormy’ nonsense, it is VERY OLD & happened a long time ago, long past the very publicly known & accepted deadline of the Statute of Limitations,” Trump said in one post.

“I placed full Reliance on the JUDGEMENT & ADVICE OF COUNCIL, who I had every reason to believe had a license to practice law, was competent, & was able to appropriately provide solid legal services. He came from a good law firm, represented other clients over the years, & there was NO reason not to rely on him, and I did,” the former president added.

Former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort is seen on February 10, 2021, in Palm Beach, Florida. Inset, Trump delivers remarks at the South Carolina State House on January 28 in Columbia, South Carolina. On Monday, The New York Times reported that the Manhattan district attorney’s office is looking to present evidence relating to Trump’s alleged hush money payments made to Stormy Daniels.
Joe Raedle; Win McNamee/Getty Images

In another Truth Social post, Trump criticized Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and said, “They long ago missed the Statute of Limitations, & I recently won big money against ‘Stormy’ in the 9th Circuit—NEVER HAD AN AFFAIR. This is old news!”

Neama Rahmani, a former federal prosecutor and president of West Coast Trial Lawyers, explained to Newsweek that in New York felony tax fraud crimes have a statute of limitations of five years. However, Rahmani noted that under New York law, “the statute of limitations doesn’t run when the defendant is continuously outside of the state.”

“Bragg would have to use this tolling provision if he charges the former president and point to the time Trump was in the White House and Mar-a-Lago. It still raises the question of why Bragg didn’t charge Trump earlier when Bragg took office, especially when Cohen pleaded guilty much earlier,” Rahmani told Newsweek.

Michael McAuliffe, a former federal prosecutor and elected state attorney, also told Newsweek that there is a tolling provision in New York for statutes of limitations “for the time a person was ‘continuously outside the state’ when calculating the last date a charge may be brought against a person.”

Trump previously resided in New York, but during his presidency he lived in Washington, D.C., and now currently resides in Florida.

According to McAuliffe, when Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018, “Justice Department guidelines prohibited the U.S. attorney from seeking charges against” Trump, as he was still the president.

McAuliffe noted that after Trump’s defeat in the 2020 presidential election, prosecutors could have charged him in connection to the payments to Daniels, but did not.

“The federal statutes relating to campaign finance violations generally have a five-year statute of limitations. As a result, the federal authorities might well face a legal barrier to charging Trump in 2023 for activities that ended in 2017,” McAuliffe told Newsweek. “Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg and his prosecutors surely have reviewed the issue and concluded that the office can reactivate its investigation of Trump for those hush money payments with time remaining to charge him.”

Newsweek previously reached out to representatives for Trump for comment.

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Trump, DeSantis Battle Turns Into a COVID War

The escalated war of words between Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has now included each individual gloating of how they handled the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier this month, Trump touted his administration’s Operation Warp Speed program that he claims potentially saved 100 million lives, in the process saying DeSantis shut down Florida for “a period of time” when other Republican-led states did otherwise.

Some former staunch Trump supporters have recently cast the former president as a “sellout” due to his recent statements about vaccines.

The Florida governor on Tuesday seemed to take a jab at Trump due to his loss to now-President Joe Biden while DeSantis coasted to another term in resounding fashion.

“If you take a crisis situation like COVID, the good thing about it is when you’re an elected executive you have to make all kinds of decisions–you gotta steer the ship,” DeSantis told reporters, according to a video tweeted by The Recount. “The good thing is that the people are able to render a judgment on that, whether they re-elect you or not.

“I’m happy to say in my case, not only did we win reelection, we won with the highest percentage of the vote that any Republican governor candidate has in the history of the state of Florida.”

His win over Democrat Charlie Crist presented the largest margin of victory in the state in 40 years.

“That verdict has been rendered by the people of the state of Florida,” DeSantis said Tuesday.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump, left, addresses the crowd during a 2024 election campaign event in Columbia, South Carolina, on January 28, 2023. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks to guests at the Republican Jewish Coalition Annual Leadership Meeting on November 19, 2022, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Trump has ramped up his barbs towards DeSantis, who is widely viewed as potentially Trump’s biggest 2024 GOP challenger should he jump into the race.
LOGAN CYRUS/AFP via Getty Images; Scott Olson/Getty Images

Trump’s verbal assault on DeSantis has coincided with the first two kickoff events of his 2024 presidential campaign in South Carolina and New Hampshire.

It was while en route to South Carolina when Trump called out DeSantis for how he handled the coronavirus in its infancy, saying DeSantis “changed his tune a lot” regarding the virus and the efficacy of vaccines.

“Florida was actually closed, for a great, long period of time,” Trump said in footage aired by CNN. “Remember, he [DeSantis] closed the beaches and everything else? They’re trying to rewrite history.”

DeSantis verbally assaulted the CDC in December while announcing a statewide investigation into “wrongdoing” linked with mRNA shots—saying that one must assume that anything the CDC puts out is “not worth the paper it’s printed on.”

Video quickly resurfaced of DeSantis from May 2021, in which he told Floridians that “vaccines protect you.”

Republicans “unsure” how to handle Trump-DeSantis matchup

Adam Cayton, a government professor at the University of West Florida, told Newsweek that the hypothetical GOP primary matchup of Trump vs. DeSantis can be summed up in one word: suspense.

“I think the problem for both of their campaigns, and let’s just assume DeSantis is interested in running for president, is that the Republican primary electorate is unsure what to do…Neither of the candidates have been overtly at odds with each other; they’ve never directly competed against one another,” Cayton said.

He added, “DeSantis is very popular in Florida, he even has a 30-40 percent approval rating among Democrats. He’s a widely recognized name and not flying under the radar, like a lot of governors do.”

Asked if invoking COVID in recent attacks is a campaign strategy, Cayton said, “everything is a campaign strategy at some level.”

Trump is attacking DeSantis’ strengths, he said, notably the reputation that DeSantis has garnered—right or wrong based on who you ask—that he handled the pandemic well.

“Trump is trying to rewrite that narrative and convince Republican primary voters that this thing you think DeSantis did very well isn’t true,” Cayton said.

While Trump’s profile is again increasing with his visibility, his odds at least according to one sportsbook have soured.

Betfair spokesperson Sam Rosbottom told Newsweek that while Trump remains the GOP favorite to be the party’s nominee come 2024, it is DeSantis who possesses the better odds to actually defeat a Democrat.

A poll by the University of New Hampshire released last Thursday showed that 42 percent of likely GOP primary voters chose DeSantis as their first choice for the GOP 2024 nomination, while Trump earned 30 percent of support. The findings were based on Granite State Poll.

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Man Cheered for Making Roommate Miss the Birth of His Baby: ‘Call the Cops’

A college student has been applauded for refusing to babysit his roommate’s 4-year-old son so he could attend the birth of his second child.

The 22-year-old student was busy studying for an upcoming exam and even threatened to “call the cops” if the young boy was left in his care. As a result, his 28-year-old roommate ended up missing the birth altogether and later told the student he would “never forgive” him for what he did.

But while the new dad was left furious, when the dilemma was shared to Reddit, drawing more than 4,400 comments, many ended up siding with the student.

He wouldn’t be the first dad to miss the birth of his child. According to a 2019 poll of 2,000 parents conducted by, one in five dads claimed to have missed the birth of their child. More surprising still, the research found one in 10 missed the arrival of two or more newborns.

In this instance, the dad ended up missing the birth after issuing his roommate an ultimatum. Writing in a post shared under the handle u/Yang22___ , the college student explained he was “in the middle of studying and preparing” for an exam when his roommate “barged in” explaining that his partner was in labor and he needed to go to the hospital.

“He started begging me to take his son for a few hours…so he could be there for his baby’s birth,” he said. “I declined and said I had so little time left and needed to focus on studying.”

Though his roommate “begged” him to change his mind, the student refused to relent.

“He started raising his voice at me saying I was being mean for no reason and he had no one else he knew that could take his son,” the student said. “I told him he could have prepared for this by hiring a babysitter.”

With tensions running high, the student told the roommate to “get out” and warned that if he left his kid with him he would contact the police.

“He was fuming,” the student said. “He took his son and left and came back the next day telling me that I just caused him to miss the birth of his baby and that he’ll never forgive me for what I’d done.”

Stock images of a woman in childbirth and a man screaming. The internet has sided with a college student after he refused to look after his roommate’s son while the roommate attended the birth of his second child.

Despite his anger, Alyza Berman, founder and clinical director of The Berman Center, a nationally recognized psychotherapy and mental health treatment center in Atlanta, felt the dad only had himself to blame.

“I think that childcare is always the responsibility of the parent. A parent should not be upset if someone maintains a boundary and says that they are unable to not only watch a child but also care for a child during a stressful time,” Berman told Newsweek.

“Additionally, how would the parent feel if the sitter/roommate was resentful and was not able to provide the proper care and supervision during the time the child was with him? I fully believe there should have been a childbirth plan ahead of time,” Berman added.

The vast majority of comments on social media echoed Berman’s standpoint.

XMimichella said, “He knew the baby would arrive at some point and didn’t make any kind of arrangements,” while Visual_Efficiency_97 wrote that the roommate “should plan ahead and have at least 2 people ready to jump in and babysit. You can’t just expect people to drop everything without ever even asking them to do you a favor.”

However, others like Katertot sided with the dad. “It’s not a trip to the store or dentist,” they said. “It’s the birth of his child. He can’t just do it later. Don’t be surprised if this ruins y’alls friendship. Friends help.”

Newsweek reached out to u/Yang22___ for comment. We could not verify the details of the case.

If you have a personal dilemma, let us know via We can ask experts for advice on relationships, family, friends, money and work, and your story could be featured in Newsweek‘s “What Should I Do?” section.

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White Rhino Shot and Killed in Florida Days Before Grand Unveiling

A white rhinoceros was shot and killed at a zoo only days before it was set to be revealed to the public.

The incident with the rhino occurred at Wild Florida, a drive-thru safari park in Kenansville, Florida, south of Orlando. Reports only began to emerge on Tuesday as the results of an investigation by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) were made public, though the shooting took place in September of last year.

According to the report, the 2,000-pound animal was killed after it repeatedly exhibited “very wild” behavior unconducive to keeping an animal in captivity near humans. This behavior included testing the fencing around its enclosure and, at one point, escaping the enclosure altogether, according to Orlando’s WOFL-TV.

Suspicions about a situation at the park were first raised back in the fall, when it promoted a “massive announcement” about its planned rhino habitat coming on September 22, World Rhino Day. The announcement was later postponed out of the blue, without a publicly stated reason.

Wild Florida did not respond to a request at the time for comment on the postponement from WOFL.

Above, a photo of white rhinoceroses with an inset image of a rifle trigger. A rhino was put down at a Florida zoo last year after it displayed unsafe behavior and escaped containment.
Yamil Lage; Jamie Squire/AFP via Getty Images; Getty Images

The rhino was brought into the park on September 18 to give it time to acclimate in a containment area before being let into the main enclosure, which met the FWC’s standards. Ultimately, it was able to break out of the containment area. Staff at the park were given orders to shoot and kill the animal in the event that it got into the main enclosure, WOFL reported.

The animal was shot 15 times before it collapsed and died. It was then quickly moved to a burial area in the park, in order to prevent being spotted by anyone flying overhead.

Security footage obtained by the FWC during its investigation corroborated the stories of employees about the tragic incident. The commission stated that it would be taking no further actions on the matter.

“For more than twelve years, Wild Florida’s mission has been to provide an unforgettable Everglades experience that promotes a connection with animals while inspiring education and conservation,” the park said in an official statement. “Unfortunately, we are sometimes faced with unforeseen situations and circumstances that require an immediate response to ensure the continued safety of visitors, staff, neighbors, and, most importantly, animals in our care.”

The park’s statement also said that action was taken in consultation with the FWC and that the rhino was “humanely euthanized.” It also told WOFL that it did not share the news sooner because “the impacts of this event were tragic and broke our hearts.”

Newsweek reached out to the FWC for further comment.

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Mega Millions Drawing for 01/31/23, Tuesday Jackpot Is $31 Million

The Mega Millions jackpot for 01/31/23 is $31 million, and the drawing will be held at 11 p.m. ET tonight.

Keep this page bookmarked and refresh it to see if you hold the winning numbers from Tuesday night’s drawing.

Tuesday night’s 01/31/23 Mega Millions jackpot is worth $31 million, with a cash-value option worth $16.5 million. The total jackpot could increase depending on the number of tickets sold around the country prior to the drawing.

The winning numbers last Friday (01/27/23) for the $20 million jackpot were: 04-43-46-47-61 with a Mega Ball of 22. The Megaplier was 4x.

There was no grand prize winner on Tuesday, nor were there tickets that matched the first five white balls, and minus the gold Mega Ball, for the game’s second prize of $1 million.

There were 14 tickets sold nationwide on Friday that matched four of the five white balls plus the Mega Ball for the $10,000 third prize. Two of those purchased the Megaplier for an extra $1, which made their third-prize winnings worth $40,000 apiece.

Mega Millions is one of two multi-state lottery games. Here are tickets from multiple states—Louisiana, Florida and Mississippi—bought in February and March. Mega Millions is played on Tuesdays and Fridays. The other multi-state lottery game is Powerball, which is played on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Scott McDonald/Newsweek

Here are the Mega Millions jackpots won in 2022:

10/14/2022 — $502 million
07/29/2022 — $1.337 billion
04/15/2022 — $20 million
04/12/2022 — $106 million (Minnesota)
03/08/2022 — $126 million (New York)
01/28/2022 — $421 million

Here are the six Mega Millions jackpots won in 2021:

10/22/2021 — $108 million (Arizona)
09/21/2021 — $432 million (New York)
06/08/2021 — $56 million (Illinois)
05/21/2021 — $516 million (Pennsylvania)
02/16/2021 — $96 million (New York)
01/22/2021 — $1.05 billion (Michigan)

The previous winning ticket before that was sold in Wisconsin on 09/15/20 for a jackpot worth $119 million. That was only the fifth, and final, Mega Millions jackpot won in the 2020 calendar year.

Here are the five Mega Millions jackpots won in 2020:

$119 million — September 15 in Wisconsin
$22 million — July 31 in California
$124 million — July 24 in New Jersey
$410 million — June 9 in Arizona
$202 million — February 11 in New Jersey

Other winners—dating back to 2019—were a $372 million ticket sold in Ohio and a $227 million ticket that was sold on 09/24/19 in the city of Cedar Park, Texas—a suburb north of Austin.

Mega Millions is a multi-state lottery every Tuesday and Friday night, and it is one of America’s two biggest lottery jackpot games. Mega Millions jackpots start at $20 million, and other prizes pay from $1 million to $2 million or more with a Megaplier. Tickets are $2 per line, and odds of winning with a $2 Mega Millions ticket are one in 303 million. For more information on Mega Millions, or to check your past numbers, visit its website.

Powerball is the other multi-state lottery, and it also starts at $20 million. Its drawings take place shortly after 11 p.m. ET on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday nights. Here is the Powerball website for more information, or to check past winning numbers.

Tuesday night we will post the Mega Millions 01/31/23 drawing payouts and tell if there was a winner and where that winner came from, if so.

Here are the top 10 Mega Millions Jackpots to date:

Amount/Date/Winning Tickets

  1. $1.537 billion 10/23/2018 1-SC
  2. $1.348 billion – 01/13/2023 1-ME
  3. $1.337 billion 07/29/2022 1-CA, 1-FL
  4. $1.05 billion 01/22/2021 1-MI
  5. $656 million 3/30/2012 1-IL, 1-KS, 1-MD
  6. $648 million 12/17/2013 1-CA, 1-GA
  7. $543 million 7/24/2018 1-CA
  8. $536 million 7/8/2016 1-IN
  9. $533 million 3/30/2018 1-NJ
  10. $522 million 6/07/2019 1-CA

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Sources: Chelsea sign Fernandez for record fee

Chelsea have agreed to sign Enzo Fernandez from Benfica and will meet the midfielder’s €120 million (£105m) release clause, according to ESPN sources.

Fernandez will move to Chelsea for a Premier League record transfer fee with a contract that runs through 2031, the sources added. The 22-year-old impressed for Argentina as they won the World Cup last year and was named the Young Player of the Tournament.

ESPN reported on Monday, that Fernandez had already agreed personal terms with Chelsea and was pushing the Portuguese club hard to reach an agreement with the Blues.

He becomes Chelsea’s seventh signing of a busy January transfer window, following Benoit Badiashile, David Datro Fofana, Andrey Santos, Mykhailo Mudryk, Noni Madueke and Malo Gusto into the club.

The deal breaks the previous Premier League record fee of £100m that Manchester City paid for Jack Grealish when he joined from Aston Villa in 2021.

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Wynonna Judd, on Her Own

NASHVILLE — Wynonna Judd was almost late for her date to sing with Joni Mitchell.

It was July 2022, and the country star had rented a yacht off the Rhode Island coast while she rehearsed for her idol’s first public performance since a 2015 brain aneurysm. That Sunday afternoon, the captain struggled to find a dock, forcing Wynonna to race to the Newport Folk Festival. She arrived a minute before showtime, squeezed into a spot toward the rear of the onstage throng and sighed with relief. Maybe people wouldn’t know she was there.

A dozen songs into the secret set, Mitchell began to purr “Both Sides Now,” the tune Wynonna — who with her mother, Naomi, made up one of Nashville’s most indelible duos — had sung during her debut performance, at eighth-grade graduation. Cameras caught her over Mitchell’s right shoulder, often sobbing as she occasionally harmonized. Honest and unmitigated, the footage went viral. Everyone knew Wynonna was there.

“It flipped me like a pancake, man, everything coming out. I was such a beautiful little mess,” she said on a recent Saturday afternoon in an enormous Nashville rehearsal hall, red hair cascading over a silver cross resting against her stomach. She paused to apply another stratum of lip gloss. “I was thinking about my mom, how much she loved my voice. And I was so freaking mad at her for leaving me. I realized I was an orphan.”

Less than three months earlier, a mediator who has worked with the entire Judd family for more than a decade commanded Wynonna to race to her mother’s house across the 1,000-acre farm they shared outside Nashville. Her younger sister, the actress and activist Ashley Judd, was already there. Wynonna arrived nine minutes later to find paramedics ready to rush her mother and lifelong singing partner into an ambulance. Naomi had struggled for decades with severe depression and panic attacks. She died that morning, her death ruled a suicide, the day before the Judds were to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

As the Judds, Naomi, left, and her daughter Wynonna became one Nashville’s most indelible duos.Ron Wolfson

“We were still at the hospital,” Cactus Moser, Wynonna’s husband, manager and drummer, remembered later in the same dressing room. “Her exact words were, ‘I’m walking my mother into the Hall of Fame tomorrow. We’re not going to bail.’ She is an oak.”

The tearful ceremony was Wynonna’s first step in moving toward her own future. Since the Judds disbanded three decades ago, her relationship with her mother had been fraught at best, an exercise in boundaries. A fence split their spread in half. Family dinners observed firm time limits. Meetings about music were led by managers. “I can compartmentalize real easy,” she said, curling her lips.

Last week, Wynonna began what may prove the pivotal phase of putting the past to rest: the second leg of the Final Tour, a sweeping survey of the Judds’ bygone country supremacy, performed over 15 dates across the United States with a cast of guests that includes Tanya Tucker, Brandi Carlile and Kelsea Ballerini. When it is over, she believes the rest of her career can begin. Now a 58-year-old grandmother newly confronting an empty nest, one of country music’s most venerated singers is electrified by the idea of making records that turn away from what Naomi long called “Judd music.”

“It’s made me even more determined to be myself,” Wynonna said of her mother’s death in a second interview on her tour bus, flanked by photos of herself with Mitchell. “It’s given me a louder voice. I want to do stuff that makes people say, ‘What are you doing?’”

With a new record deal through the independent label Anti-, Wynonna hopes to mine the rock, folk and soul she wanted to sing before Naomi suggested a family band, when Wynonna was still a teenager. Already, she has released new music with an indie-rock descendant, Waxahatchee, and had even started a band a few years ago with the elliptical singer-songwriter Cass McCombs.

“We’ve both lived our lives as people have expected us, but she’s just getting started,” said Bobby Weir of the Grateful Dead, speaking by phone from Mexico, where Wynonna had just joined Dead & Company for a surprise performance. “I can’t wait to see who she takes with her, who she leaves wondering.”

Her mother’s death, Wynonna said, has “made me even more determined to be myself” musically.Thea Traff for The New York Times

FOR MUCH OF the ’80s, the Judds were country music’s sweethearts next door, the mother-daughter duo mistaken for sisters. The Judds’ preternatural Kentucky harmonies politely rebuffed the “Urban Cowboy” craze sparked by the 1980 film, and country’s increasing slickness. Wynonna and Naomi sang about grandpa and the good ol’ days, and then held each other in love or heartache. Naomi was the playful one, charming crowds as she sang backup; Wynonna, more stoic, was the generational singer out front.

“I don’t think there’s anybody in the business — any business, whether it’s country or rock or pop, anything — that has a greater voice than Wynonna,” Dolly Parton, a longtime mentor who thinks of her as a daughter, said in an interview. “With all the passion she has, all the stuff she feels, she was able to get that voice out there.”

The Judds’ life was “a wonderful duet,” Naomi wrote in her autobiography, “the two of us against a frightening and unknown world.” But for Wynonna, the songs were more idyllic than their circumstances. Naomi was a single mother, pinballing between California and Kentucky, Texas and Tennessee for opportunity or inspiration. By the time Wynonna was 8, she felt the burden of raising Ashley was, in part, hers. Her mother never told her that she and her sister had different fathers.

“We didn’t have the sit-down, Norman Rockwell family,” she said. “I always wanted that. I was never really allowed to be a kid.”

That applied to music, too. Wynonna loved Joni Mitchell and Bessie Smith but longed to be Linda Ronstadt or Bonnie Raitt. She wanted to build a sizzling rock band, not be in a country duo with her mother. Bouncing between short-term jobs and nursing school, Naomi had other ideas, not only to safeguard her firstborn but also to try a novel family business.

“On some level, she knew that this kid could sing,” Wynonna said, winking. “She had dreams and plans, and I had dreams and plans. They were very different. But I was so codependent, and I wanted to sing.”

Indeed, in only six years, Wynonna’s supple vocals led the Judds to country’s biggest stages. Their meteoric rise was interrupted in October 1990, when Naomi announced her sudden retirement as hepatitis C ravaged her health. Wynonna wanted to quit, too. “It’s like being in the middle of a divorce,” said Wynonna, who has endured two of them. “How can you possibly think about dating?”

But as Wynonna built a solo career, Naomi found other ways to impose. Wynonna believes her mother once hired a private investigator to learn if Wynonna’s boyfriend was gay. Naomi resented that Wynonna toured while she stayed at home. It got worse after 2009, when Wynonna partnered with Moser. Comparing her voice to some garage-bound Ferrari that had “only ever gone to fourth gear,” he encouraged her to try new songs and fresh settings of Judds standbys.

“Mom was not a big fan of me and Cactus, because she desperately wanted to be on the road,” Wynonna admitted. “There’s a piece of me that feels like I left her at the party.”

In 2019, an unexpected invitation arrived. The Nashville promoter Leslie Cohea saw Wynonna perform at a Tennessee festival, as Naomi watched from backstage. Cohea began hatching a plan for a final Judds hurrah: a full tour, taking the hits to arenas one last time.

At a preliminary meeting in a Nashville board room, mother and daughter sat at opposite ends of a conference table and offered redlines. At Naomi’s request, the songs would be true to original form, recalled Jason Owen, the founder of Sandbox Entertainment, who built the tour alongside Cohea; at Wynonna’s request, the outfits would not be fastidiously coordinated.

When Naomi started in on wardrobe plans, Wynonna gagged. “She said, ‘I’m fine. That’s just the sound of my mother’s uterus strangling my throat,’” Owen remembered in an interview. “They were playing off each other, but it was real.”

Sandbox shaped a comprehensive plan to relaunch the Judds, hinging on a taped outdoor performance of one of their final hits, “Love Can Build a Bridge,” for the CMT Music Awards in April 2022. They announced 10 tour dates that night, quickly selling most of the tickets.

The performance, however, wobbled. For the first time in Judds history, the ever-punctual Naomi was late, flustered by the unseasonably cold weather and an edit made to shorten her anthem for television. “She went from being at home, putting on makeup, to being in a multimillion-dollar production,” Wynonna said. “She wasn’t prepared.”

Wynonna is not big on regret. She doesn’t think she could have saved her mom. “Once you make that choice, you’re determined to carry it out,” she said flatly. “There’s only so much guilt to carry around.” Still, she wondered if they should have debriefed more, unpacking the anxiety of working together again.

“I missed that, because I was gone,” she said, referring to a tour of her own. Two weeks later, so was Naomi.

LATE IN THE afternoon on the first day of the Final Tour’s last leg (at least for now), Wynonna shuffled up the stage steps in a hockey arena in Hershey, Pa. “Oh, hi!” she said to a small crowd in the arena’s front two rows, stretching that last word like molasses.

More than two dozen devotees had paid extra for deluxe treatment, arriving three hours before showtime to watch a snippet of soundcheck and pose for a snapshot. After the band raced through “Have Mercy,” an early Judds hit about a hopeless cad, Wynonna grabbed a stack of scrap paper. Each fan had scribbled a question, and she started with the easy ones.

“She had dreams and plans, and I had dreams and plans,” Wynonna said of her mother. “They were very different. But I was so codependent, and I wanted to sing.”Thea Traff for The New York Times

How many pets do you have? (Forty-eight, including 26 cats.) Who was your biggest influence? (Her Mamaw, or paternal grandmother.) And then, inevitably, came the queries about carrying on without Naomi. Her mother loved everybody, she said, and taught her gratitude for the life they’d built, even when it seemed impossible.

“She was a good person — to everybody else,” Wynonna said. She paused, as if realizing how harsh that sounded. “I did her hair, so she was strict with me.”

Perched above her behind the drums, Moser interceded with a mischievous grin, asking if she was ready to play. “What are you talking about?” she shot back. “I was born ready.”

In the weeks after Naomi’s death, Wynonna wasn’t sure if she was ready for this tour, to say goodbye to the Judds without her mother. She canceled a run with her own band and wondered if continuing was crass. “There was no way I was going to sing these songs without her,” she explained. “I had to seek counsel, because I was in a shutdown. Even Jesus had disciples.”

The feedback from a retinue that included Moser, her sister and even her farm manager was nearly unanimous: Play. Parton demanded as much in front of a crowd at a private memorial service, telling Wynonna she needed those shows. “I told her that Naomi had her journey, and she had hers. None of that was her fault,” Parton remembered. “I told her to get her ass out there on the road. It’s time for her to go on and do the great things she’s capable of doing, a new start.”

Singers including Carlile and Ashley McBryde, both ’80s babies reared on “Judd music,” volunteered to join her and sing Naomi’s parts. The first 11 shows last fall were more celebration than elegy.

“I would have been desperately sad if not,” Wynonna said, anxiously rubbing her hands together. “You can’t fake this. It’s not a time to put on your big-girl panties and just deal with it. This music is my foundational life journey.”

These concerts without Naomi are the culmination of an extended and unsteady process of stepping from their famous duo’s shadows, personally and professionally. Though Wynonna’s solo career was full of left turns into slinky R&B, vaulting pop and collaborations with the likes of Jeff Beck, that work was heard within the context of what she had accomplished with her mother, or might still. That is finally over.

Scenes from opening night of the Final Tour’s second leg, in Hershey, Pa.Thea Traff for The New York Times

“Almost instantly, there was less weight, less pressure,” Moser said, chatting in a Hershey sports bar. “Naomi believed I was trying to tunnel under the Judds legacy and let her fall through the cracks.”

An encyclopedic rock fan who scoffs at Nashville mores, Moser speculates about future collaborations with cerebral producers like Daniel Lanois or Blake Mills. He and Wynonna are eight songs into an album that will most likely include work with Weir, Carlile and Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam. It feels so real and vulnerable, Wynonna said, it makes her uncomfortable. “It’s the most intimate I’ve ever been,” she noted of a song called “Broken and Blessed.” “And that’s because of my mother.”

And two years ago, after her biological father died, she finally met her brother, Michael, when she called him without warning on his birthday. They talked for five hours the first time they met. “We couldn’t get over how much we looked alike,” she gushed. “They’re all so normal.”

She never told Naomi about her new family. She beamed, though, when she mentioned someday introducing him to Ashley, whom she repeatedly called “honey bunny.” Their relationship has become closer, Wynonna explained, the result of having and respecting boundaries. “We’re in such good places now,” she said. “It’s going to be OK.”

MORE THAN 20 minutes before Wynonna was due onstage in Hershey for the opening night’s 24-song set, she stood still in a backstage hallway, bare feet on the concrete floor. She talked to her son, Elijah, and asked for more hair spray. Her black velvet outfit was covered in a constellation of gold glitter, and her wavy hair was a ripple of burnished reds. She clutched an enormous white guitar, so new it gleamed even beneath wan fluorescent lights.

For the better part of a year, Moser schemed with Gibson to make a replica of the big, white guitar Wynonna bought soon after the Judds broke up. After a quarter-century of concerts, the original was as yellow as fresh butter, the wood beneath its strings ground down from countless strums. That guitar had signaled a new phase of her life, just like this one. She kept both hands around it, as if protecting a puppy. “It feels good,” she said slowly, closing her eyes to reveal more glitter.

Just then, she stopped her tour manager, Tanner Brandell, and asked how much time she had left. “I was coming to tell you that you have the trigger,” he said. “Tell me when.” Without hesitation, she said “Now” and began sauntering toward the stage, moving deliberately, as if the world could always wait for Wynonna.

She climbed the stairs and strummed a chord as the white guitar caught the spotlight for the first time. She belted out one line from an old Judds favorite, her voice every bit as mighty as it was when they cut the song in 1983: “Had a dream about you, baby.” She let the line echo back, and grinned.

Thea Traff for The New York Times

Netanyahu Juggles Competing Goals Over Palestinian Attacks

After a deadly week, Benjamin Netanyahu faces domestic calls for a harsh crackdown, and international pressure to moderate. It’s a familiar balancing act — but with one major difference.

When Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, gathered his cabinet on Sunday, he heard calls from ministers for a hard crackdown in response to a deadly sequence of Palestinian attacks on Israelis — home demolitions, deportations, death sentences.

When he met a day later with Antony J. Blinken, he listened politely as the American secretary of state called instead for calm and de-escalation after an outburst of violence, including the deadliest Israeli raid in years on Palestinians in the West Bank, followed by the deadliest Palestinian attack in years against Israelis in Jerusalem.

This is the disorienting waltz that Israel’s longest-serving prime minister finds himself dancing in his latest spell in power, this time at the helm of the most right-wing government in Israeli history.

On the domestic stage, Mr. Netanyahu is being tugged toward the extremes by new partners who want him to annex the West Bank, exert more control over the most sensitive and contested holy site in Jerusalem and take harsher measures against Palestinians.

On the world stage, he is being nudged toward moderation by international partners — among them the United States and Israel’s Arab neighbors — who seek to curb rising violence in Israel and the West Bank before it escalates into an explosion.

Amit Elkayam for The New York Times

In short, his goal is to perform two different acts in two different theaters. The challenge is that both performances need to run at the same time.

At home, Mr. Netanyahu’s coalition government has no majority in Parliament without the involvement of the far-right: Other potential right-wing and centrist partners have refused to work with Mr. Netanyahu because of his decision to remain in politics despite standing trial for corruption.

Overseas, he needs U.S. and Arab good will for two key foreign policy goals — shoring up a regional alliance against Iran, and persuading Saudi Arabia, the Arab world’s most influential country, to normalize ties with Israel after decades of estrangement.

“Netanyahu now does what he knows to do best — juggle all the balls in the air simultaneously,” said Mazal Mualem, the author of a new biography of the leader. “Master of political maneuvers, Netanyahu divides and conquers,” she added.

Mahmoud Illean/Associated Press

In previous governments, Mr. Netanyahu assembled coalitions with politicians to both his left and right, using one to moderate the other. This time, however, there is no one to his left in the coalition, and those to his right are more powerful, numerous and extreme than in his previous governments.

That leaves Mr. Netanyahu, himself, as the closest thing to a moderating influence in an immoderate government, but a spiral of bloodshed and reprisals could sorely test his juggling skills.

In just over a month in office, he has already made several moves to rein in the most extreme positions and triangulate between competing priorities and ministers. He approved the demolition of an unauthorized West Bank settlement, dismissed a senior government minister the Israeli Supreme Court had judged unfit for office, and resisted a call to lock down parts of East Jerusalem.

“This is a government without a responsible grown-up,” said Anshel Pfeffer, another biographer of Mr. Netanyahu. “The only person who could be a responsible grown-up is Benjamin Netanyahu himself.”

“He wants to be prime minister despite being indicted, and no moderate will sit in that kind of coalition,” Mr. Pfeffer added.

To secure the support of Itamar Ben-Gvir, an extreme-right politician who until recently displayed a portrait of a mass killer in his home, Mr. Netanyahu appointed him minister in charge of the police.

To win over Bezalel Smotrich, a settler leader who wants to annex the West Bank, Mr. Netanyahu made him the finance minister and gave him a powerful position in the defense ministry, heading the department that oversees construction and demolition in Israeli-administered parts of the territory.

Pool photo by Ronen Zvulun

Before entering office, Mr. Netanyahu signed off on coalition agreements that asserted the Jewish people’s exclusive right to both Israel and the occupied West Bank, and pledged to annex the West Bank. But he also left himself some wiggle room. The timing of annexation was left to Mr. Netanyahu himself, and the specifics of Mr. Smotrich’s role were left vague.

To Mr. Netanyahu’s critics, this dynamic has left him weak and unable to steer the government in the direction he wants. He gave away so many high-profile ministries to politicians from outside his own party, Likud, that he struggled to secure enough senior positions to award to his own party loyalists. Those who did receive key portfolios — like the foreign, defense and education ministries — had certain duties removed and given to others.

The best example was Yoav Gallant, a Likud member who was made defense minister — but only after key roles in the ministry were promised, at least on paper, to Mr. Smotrich.

When Mr. Smotrich pushed Mr. Gallant not to demolish a new, unauthorized Jewish settlement outpost in the northern West Bank, Mr. Netanyahu sided with Mr. Gallant. The outpost was knocked down by the army and its residents evicted.

Pool photo by Ronaldo Schemidt

Earlier, Mr. Netanyahu allowed Mr. Ben-Gvir to visit the Aqsa mosque compound, a deeply sensitive Jerusalem holy site that is sacred to both Muslims and Jews, who call it Temple Mount, for the temples built there in antiquity.

But after Mr. Ben-Gvir’s gesture inflamed international opinion — not least in neighboring Jordan, which is the site’s nominal custodian — Mr. Netanyahu hurried to Amman to meet the Jordanian king, Abdullah II, and try to calm tensions.

On Thursday, Israeli security forces raided the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank, in what they described as an operation to capture terrorists, and killed 10 people, including several gunmen and a 61-year-old female bystander. The next day, a Palestinian gunman killed seven people outside a synagogue in East Jerusalem, the deadliest attack in the city in 15 years.

The aftermath of that spasm of violence highlighted both Mr. Netanyahu’s ability to rein in his ministers, as well as its limits. In response to the Jerusalem attack, the far-right national security minister, Mr. Ben-Gvir, pushed fellow cabinet members to agree to a lockdown of a Palestinian part of the city.

The minister was eventually talked down, but the cabinet still agreed on measures that critics said were too heavy-handed and likely to prove counterproductive.

The moves included a decision to immediately seal attackers’ family homes, in addition to the longstanding Israeli practice of demolishing the houses at a later date — a move that critics see as a form of collective punishment.

Atef Safadi/EPA, via Shutterstock

“You are too weak to deal with the extremists in your government,” Yair Lapid, the centrist who preceded Mr. Netanyahu as prime minister, wrote in a recent online post addressed to his successor.

Mr. Netanyahu has repeatedly stressed that he remains in charge, and hasn’t been held to ransom.

“The main policy or the overriding policy of the government is determined by the Likud and frankly, by me,” he said in a podcast interview before taking office. During his earlier stints in office, opponents often leveled “these doom projections, but none of them materialized,” Mr. Netanyahu added.

Asked to comment for this article, an official in the prime minister’s office, who spoke anonymously to comply with protocol, said that Mr. Netanyahu was in full control of the situation and had a long, successful track record of managing different personalities in his cabinets.

Even if Mr. Netanyahu ultimately finds it difficult to control his cabinet, risking a domestic security crisis, some allies believe the international fallout would be less than his opponents imagine.

For some Arab leaders, solidarity with the Palestinians is now a lesser priority than strengthening military, economic and technological ties with Israel. Three Arab countries formalized relations with Israel in 2020, in a process that highlighted how, in certain Arab capitals, shared fears of a nuclear Iran now take precedence over establishing a Palestinian state.

Preventing a diplomatic rift between Israel and its Arab partners — or even building ties with Saudi Arabia — is “probably a bit easier today than it was five years ago,” said Dore Gold, a former adviser to Mr. Netanyahu and the president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, a research group.

“The Middle East region has dramatically changed,” he added.

Myra Noveck contributed reporting.

NFL will see ‘a better version’ of Hooker, QB says

MOBILE, Ala. — Former Tennessee star quarterback Hendon Hooker is on track to be healthy in time for his opening NFL training camp this summer, he told ESPN on Tuesday afternoon.

At the Senior Bowl, Hooker flashed the familiar halogen grin that accompanied his rise to stardom at Tennessee the past two seasons. He told ESPN he has begun working out after Dr. Neal S. ElAttrache repaired the torn ACL in his left knee on Dec. 13.

“It will be a better version of Hendon Hooker, the best we’ve seen yet,” he said when asked what he’ll look like upon his return.

Hooker won’t participate in the Senior Bowl game on Saturday, but he accepted an invitation here to meet with NFL teams and further familiar himself with NFL offenses. He’s perhaps the most intriguing player in Mobile this week, as he surged into becoming a top Heisman candidate and potential high-round draft pick with his dominant play for the Vols this season. That searing streak to stardom ended suddenly with a torn ACL on Nov. 20 against South Carolina.

“There were a lot of emotions, missing the game and missing being around my teammates,” he said. “There’s been a lot of jokes and laughter and also going back and watching tape and tearing up.”

Hooker threw for 58 touchdowns and five interceptions the past two seasons at Tennessee and led the Vols to the school to a No. 2 ranking in the Associated Press poll, the highest the Vols had been ranked since 2001. Hooker said that he has met with close to 20 teams, joking that there’s many to count. He said he has had a few “double meetings” with teams but declined to name the teams. He let them know that he’ll be ready for camp this summer and is planning to be ready for full contact by the start of the preseason.

Hooker will not run at Tennessee’s Pro Day on March 30, but he plans to warm up and “stride it out” to show how well he’s moving.

“I feel great,” Hooker said. “I’m moving around. I’m excited to get back to my regular self. My cerebral side has elevated to a whole other level. I’m continuing to build that and my leadership skills and communication skills. I’ll have that chip on my shoulder whenever I get back.”

Hooker has been working out and rehabbing in California. He said after the surgery, there was an adjustment process of learning to walk on crutches, shower and sleep sitting up because of the injury.

He made a point to thank his sister, Nile, for moving out to California with him and help him navigate his comeback. His on-field quarterback training has been done by Steve Calhoun and Jordan Palmer, as he said that throwing while sitting allows him to both experiment with different arm angles and simulate deep balls. He’s working out with fellow college quarterbacks Max Duggan (TCU), Clayton Tune (Houston), Will Levis (Kentucky) and Dorian Thompson-Robinson (UCLA).

“I’m doing really well, putting 100 percent weight on it,” Hooker said. “I’m able to do exercises without my brace. I’ll throw sitting down some. Nothing too crazy on my knee where I’m twisting and turning on it, just taking it slow and all the precautions.”

Hooker said that while out in California in December, he would wake up at 4 a.m. for the Vols’ 7 a.m. Zoom meetings at the Orange Bowl. He said he wanted to understand the game plan to help out Joe Milton, the Tennessee backup, and “be transparent” when they were chatting about the game.

When teams have asked Hooker what kind of player they are getting, he has responded this way: “I want to be smart and learn and want to come in and be extremely competitive. A dynamic guy who is hungry for betterment of himself on and off the field. A dynamic guy in the pocket and a good deep-ball thrower and an accurate thrower. And an athletic player. A competitor.”

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