Boycott war brewing on the grounds of Starbucks’ gun policy

Posted Feb. 19, 2012, at 8:54 p.m.

SEATTLE — Those who prefer to drink their lattes packing protection on their hip turned out at Starbucks across the country on the first day of a “buycott” organized by gun owners — countering the Starbucks boycott called this month by the National Gun Victims Action Council.

The issue of Starbucks allowing gun owners to openly carry their weapons in states that have “open carry” laws has been simmering for years. The new boycott, which launched Tuesday, aims at persuading Starbucks to join a growing list of retail chains, including Peet’s Coffee, California Pizza Kitchen and IKEA, which prohibit guns even when they’re otherwise legal.

“Starbucks allowing guns to be carried in thousands of their stores significantly increases everyone’s risk of being a victim of gun violence,” Elliot Fineman, head of the Chicago-based council, said in a news release announcing the boycott.

Most of the visible action Tuesday seemed to be on the buycott side of things, though, as gun groups across the country urged their members to show up at Starbucks — not necessarily with their weapons — and spend.

Joe Huffman, a Seattle software engineer who writes a gun blog based in his native Idaho, reported that he and his friends spent $131.64 at the Starbucks in Seattle’s main shopping district Tuesday.

“I wasn’t carrying a gun. I did have a jacket on that had an (National Rifle Association) life member patch,” Huffman said. “I wanted to demonstrate that even though they’re under a lot of pressure, we’re very appreciative of them standing up against those people.”

Similar “Starbucks Appreciation Day” demonstrations were reported in several states, including Hawaii, Tennessee, and Michigan, as well as in several suburban communities around Seattle, where Starbucks is headquartered.

At least 44 are killed in Mexican prison riot

MEXICO CITY — Dozens of inmates were killed Sunday in a fierce brawl inside a Mexican prison, authorities said, the latest lethal incident in Latin America’s overcrowded, poorly maintained jails.

By late afternoon, the number of dead at the prison outside the northern industrial city of Monterrey had climbed to 44 and might rise, officials said.

Initial reports blamed the violence on efforts to transfer some inmates to another jailhouse elsewhere in the country. But it was also likely that the fighting involved rival drug gangs that increasingly dominate Mexican prisons. One guard was reported having been taken hostage, but none was reported killed.

Public security authorities in Nuevo Leon state, where Monterrey is, said inmates began fighting in one cellblock about 2 a.m. and the violence spread to a second block.

Iran says it’s cutting oil exports to France, Britain

BEIRUT — Iran said Sunday that it was cutting off oil exports to France and Britain in a pre-emptive strike against European economic sanctions, while top U.S. and British officials warned against a military attack on Iran’s disputed nuclear program.

Iran’s retaliatory oil ban was the latest instance of high-stakes brinkmanship surrounding Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. Iran says its program is solely for peaceful purposes, but the U.S. and many of its allies suspect the goal is to develop weapons.

Speculation has intensified in recent weeks about a possible Israeli or U.S. strike on Iranian nuclear sites, even as an apparent shadow war rages featuring assassinations of Iranian scientists, sabotage of Iran’s nuclear technology and recent bomb plots that targeted Israeli diplomats in India and Georgia and, authorities suspect, in Thailand.

On Sunday, British Foreign Minister William Hague and Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, made a conscious effort to cool down the rhetoric, backing the current recipe of diplomacy and economic sanctions against Iran to resolve the looming crisis. Their message seemed as much aimed at Israel as the Iranians.

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