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Howard Schultz speaks at Miami Dade College in March. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who put his independent presidential exploration on hold in June, will tell supporters later this morning that he's abandoning his campaign but still plans to spend big "to fix our broken system."

Why it matters: Schultz — a billionaire who planned to spend north of $100 million on 2020 — now will direct that same amount, over a longer time, toward innovative efforts to reduce inequality and promote political reform.

Between the lines: Schultz, 66, didn't want to be a spoiler if Joe Biden becomes the nominee, and calculated that he'd have to begin locking down ballot access before the Democratic race is settled.

  • What's next: Schultz, who plans to combine philanthropy and strategic investing with a passion for increasing access to the American dream, now becomes one of the most active private players in public policy.

In a "Dear Friends" letter going to hundreds of thousands of supporters later today, Schultz writes:

  • "[N]ot enough people today are willing to consider backing an independent candidate because they fear doing so might lead to re-electing a uniquely dangerous incumbent president."
  • "If I went forward, there is a risk that my name would appear on ballots even if a moderate Democrat wins the nomination, and that is not a risk I am willing to take."
  • "Finally, a back injury in April and three subsequent surgeries have required a level of recovery that has prevented me from continuing my travels and engaging with people to the degree that is necessary."
  • "The money that I was prepared to commit to a presidential campaign will instead be used to invest in people, organizations and ideas that promote honesty, civility and results in our politics."
  • "Onward with love of country, Howard."

Read the letter.

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Go deeper

Updated 7 hours ago - Technology

From Malcolm X to "Free Britney," new media shapes the justice system

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

True crime documentaries, podcasts and social media campaigns are bringing new attention to real-world legal proceedings — and are often affecting the outcome.

Why it matters: New media platforms can instantly put a national spotlight on cases that have long been forgotten or buried under red tape.

Updated 10 hours ago - Health

The next big bottleneck in the global vaccination effort

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

The world still needs more coronavirus vaccines, but an additional bottleneck has emerged in many low-income countries: They need help getting shots in arms.

Why it matters: Increasing vaccination rates across the world is both a humanitarian necessity and the best way to prevent dangerous new variants from emerging, but it increasingly requires complex problem-solving.

Updated 10 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 Omicron variant cases identified in Europe, U.K.

People wearing masks walk in London on Nov. 25. Photo: Li Ying/Xinhua via Getty Images

Health officials in the United Kingdom, Italy and Germany announced on Saturday that they've detected the first known cases of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The discoveries come as the world scrambles to respond to concerns over the new variant, discovered in South Africa earlier this week.