When I opened my e-mail today, I was greeted with another one of those too-bad-to-be-true stories of outrage, this one (allegedly forwarded from Marine Sgt. Howard C. Wright), charging that Starbucks had told a group of Marines in Iraq that it wouldn't send them free coffee because the company didn't support the war. As usual, I went immediately to the terrific Urban Legends Reference Pages for confirmation that the story wasn't true. There's no evidence that the request was ever made, and Starbucks officials say they love the troops as much as anybody.
But the interesting part of the company's response is that they essentially acknowledge that if they did receive such a request, they would turn it down. Starbucks, the company says, "cannot directly donate to military personnel." Cannot? Try will not. It's not like there's a federal law stopping them. It's just company policy to focus on local charities. Oh, and they won't support "political or religious activities." But last time I checked, the military wasn't a political or religious organization. The best part: Starbucks is fine with its employees sending the troops the rations of coffee that they get as a perk of employment.