Yet another example of an American company choosing commerce over principal:
I hadn't seen a Starbucks in months, but there it was, tucked into a corner of a fancy shopping mall in the Saudi capital. After all those bitter little cups of sludgy Arabic coffee, here at last was an improbable snippet of home — caffeinated, comforting, American.
I wandered into the shop, filling my lungs with the rich wafts of coffee. The man behind the counter gave me a bemused look; his eyes flickered. I asked for a latte. He shrugged, the milk steamer whined, and he handed over the brimming paper cup. I turned my back on his uneasy face.
Crossing the cafe, I felt the hard stares of Saudi men. A few of them stopped talking as I walked by and watched me pass. Them, too, I ignored. Finally, coffee in hand, I sank into the sumptuous lap of an overstuffed armchair.
"Excuse me," hissed the voice in my ear. "You can't sit here." The man from the counter had appeared at my elbow. He was glaring.
"Excuse me?" I blinked a few times.
"Emmm," he drew his discomfort into a long syllable, his brows knitted. "You cannot stay here."
"What? Uh … why?"
Then he said it: "Men only."
Starbucks isn't alone in bowing to totalitarian regimes:
The "virus of internet repression" has spread from a handful of countries to dozens of governments, said the group.
Amnesty accused companies such as Google, Microsoft and Yahoo of being complicit in the problem.