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Good morning. It's Friday, July 7, and we're covering the ongoing Wagner Group saga in Russia, a final milestone for a legendary musical artist, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.


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Need To Know

Prigozhin Returns to Russia

Supporters of the private Russian mercenary Wagner Group are calling for a mass gathering Saturday in St. Petersburg, Russia, where groups plan to hand out Wagner-branded merchandise. The private mercenary group announced the effort on its social media channel yesterday to roughly 250,000 followers as reports surfaced of Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin's return to Russia. 


The latest development comes less than two weeks after Prigozhin and members of the Wagner Group were exiled to neighboring Belarus after a short-lived mutiny against Russia's defense ministry (see timeline). A brokered deal allowed Wagner mercenaries to relocate to Belarus to avoid joining the Russian military as part of Moscow's plan to dismantle private mercenary groups. 


Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said yesterday Prigozhin was no longer inside Belarus territory, while posts on Russian social media have reported sightings of the Wagner leader. It's unclear if Prigozhin will attend the mass Wagner gathering Saturday. 


See the latest updates on Russia's war against Ukraine here.


Elton's Swan Song

Legendary singer and musician Sir Elton John is scheduled to perform the last concert of his farewell tour tomorrow evening, taking the stage in the Swedish capital of Stockholm. The 76-year-old Brit has said he wants to spend more time with his husband and children. 


Dubbed "Farewell Yellow Brick Road"—an homage to his similarly named 1973 album—the global series has become the all-time highest-grossing concert tour, bringing in close to $925M. John, who has grossed just under $2B on tour during his six-decade career, also holds the solo artist record for most tickets sold, at more than 20 million (the current tour has surpassed 5.7 million across more than 330 shows). His swan song began in 2018 but was paused during the pandemic. 


Among his personal and professional accolades, John was knighted by Queen Elizabeth, had seven consecutive albums reach No. 1 on music charts, and won five Grammys. See his career in photos here.


Plot Twist in Houston

A 25-year-old Houston man who was found after allegedly having been missing for eight years was, in fact, living at home with his mother, police confirmed yesterday. The case, which remained open as a missing person investigation, initially made national headlines last week when Rudy Farias was found unresponsive outside a local church, reportedly with a number of bruises and cuts. 


Farias was initially reported missing in 2015 after walking his dogs. Officials have now confirmed he actually returned home the following day, ultimately assuming fake names and his mother insisting he was her nephew. Reports also suggest the family was not particularly discreet—Farias is said to have often appeared in public using an alternate identity. 


Adding to the confusion, police provided no details on motives for the deception, and prosecutors have thus far declined to bring charges against Farias' mother for filing a false police report, saying only more information would be released when possible. 

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In The Know

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

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> The 2023 MLB Draft kicks off Sunday (7 pm ET, ESPN) from Seattle with the Pittsburgh Pirates holding the top pick; see full draft order and top prospects (More)

> Las Vegas tapped to host the Final Four of the NBA's first in-season tournament, which will debut in 2023-24 season (More) | Britney Spears presses battery charges against member of NBA Draft top pick Victor Wembanyama’s security detail (More)

> The Eagles announce their final concert tour after 52 years as a band, will begin Sept. 7 (More) | George Tickner, guitarist and founding member of Journey, dies at 76 (More)

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Science & Technology

> Meta launches Threads, a microblogging app positioned to compete with Twitter; app passes 30 million downloads in 24 hours (More) | See our previous write-up here (More) | Twitter threatens lawsuit, alleging Meta stole trade secrets (More)

> Researchers capture highest-ever resolution images of developing human embryos; approach allows study of early gestational periods without invasive techniques (More)

> US health regulators approve Leqembi, an antibody-based treatment that slowed cognitive decline in Alzheimer's patients in clinical trials; Medicare expected to offer broad coverage for the $26,500-per-year drug (More)


Business & Markets

> US stock markets close lower (S&P 500 -0.8%, Dow -1.1%, Nasdaq -0.8%) to continue down week (More)

> US job openings drop to 9.8 million in May, after increasing in April, per the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) report (More)

> US average 30-year mortgage rates pass 7.2%, highest levels since November (More)


Politics & World Affairs

> Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) reports $20M in second quarter campaign fundraising, former President Donald Trump reports $35M; other candidates' numbers expected before July 15 reporting deadline (More) | Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R, GA-14) voted out of House Freedom Caucus (More)

> Aide to former President Donald Trump, Walt Nauta, pleads not guilty to charges he helped conceal classified documents from federal authorities (More) | New details from Mar-a-Lago search warrant unsealed (More)

> OceanGate, the deep-sea exploration and tourism company whose submersible imploded en route to the Titanic wreckage, suspends operations; five people were killed in the wreckage (More) | What is known about the incident (More)



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> The Implosion of Stockton Rush

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> Why Consumers Love Costco

Hustle | Staff. A few simple rules make the massive warehouse company successful: bulk savings, limited choices, and recurring memberships. (Watch)


> The Retrievals

NY Times: Serial | Susan Burton. (Podcast) The story of an infertility nurse who secretly stole fentanyl from hundreds of women as they underwent painful procedures and how the patients made sense of their inexplicable pain. (Listen)

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