The Sideshow
  • 228 customers treated each other to free coffee on a seemingly random December day (WLS Chicago)One coffeehouse customer’s random act of kindness went viral—resulting in hours of free beverages for hundreds of fellow patrons who couldn’t resist the urge to pass along the generosity.

    On the morning of Dec. 21, a customer at a Tim Hortons in Winnipeg Canada decided to pay for the order of the person behind them in line. The customer on the receiving end was so moved they, in turn, decided to pay for the customer behind them in line.The trend continued for three hours and exactly 228 customers.

    "It isn't uncommon for Tim Hortons customers to pay for the next person in line, but this was a real gift," Michelle Robichaud, a spokeswoman for the company, told the Winnipeg Free Press. "It was a boost of goodness, especially with everything happening in the world. ... We don't know who started it, but that's the beauty of this act of generosity. It was the start of something wonderful."

    The rest of us will likely have to wait until September for a shot at receiving a free espresso or

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  • Portrait of Louis XVI by Antoine-François Callet (Wikimedia Commons)

    It's been more than 200 years since King Louis XVI was beheaded by French revolutionaries, but a team of scientists believes a recently discovered gourd contains traces of his blood.

    According to the BBC, the scientists say a dried, hollowed-out squash that had been kept by an Italian family as a souvenir contains a handkerchief that was dipped in the king's blood by a spectator.

    A message on the outside of the calabash reads: "On January 21, Maximilien Bourdaloue dipped his handkerchief in the blood of Louis XVI after his decapitation."

    According to the findings published in Forensic Science International, analysis of DNA taken from the blood revealed it to be similar to DNA from a mummified head believed to belong to Henri IV, Louis' 16th-century predecessor.

    Results of a 2010 test on the gourd were inconclusive, but the genetic connection to Henri's remains led the scientists to conclude the blood found inside the gourd is indeed that of the king's.

    "This study shows that [the remains] share a genetic heritage passed on through the paternal line,” forensic pathologist Philippe Charlier told Agence France-Presse. "They have a direct link to one another through their fathers. One could say that there is absolutely no doubt any more."

    Louis XVI was killed by guillotine on Jan. 21, 1793; Henri IV was killed in 1610.

    Read More »from Good gourd! Blood belonging to Louis XVI found in souvenir squash
  • The tallest building in the world had a big new year.

    The Burj Khalifa, the soaring 2,716-foot tower in Dubai, started 2013 with a massive sound and light show that seemed to turn the high-rise into a giant fireworks display.

    A video, which captured the attention of the Web, shows an eye-popping performance that was accompanied by the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra playing on the Burj Steps, an arena-style venue extending from the building. Fireworks, which were also set off elsewhere around Dubai, appeared around and on top of the skyscraper.

    The tower is used to fame—it had itsHollywood moment in the movie Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, when Tom Cruise scaled it from the outside.

    Even if you couldn’t afford a $4,300 window-side table at the restaurant on the 122nd floor, aptly named Atmosphere, to catch the show up close, there was plenty to take in from the ground. Close to a million people on the street watched what organizers called “arguably the best display on the

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  • Pacquiao prods Mayweather with another tweet
    Pacquiao prods Mayweather with another tweet

    Philippine boxing legend Manny Pacquiao wants to give faithful fight fans a Christmas present -- the promise of a blockbuster world title face-off with Floyd Mayweather. The talk of the long-anticipated bout between the two gained steam in recent days, with Mayweather on Friday proposing a May 2 date and Pacquiao responding with a vow to chase him into submission. The two were long-time rivals as the "best pound-for-pound" boxers of their generation, but the dream fight has never materialized to the disappointment of the boxing world. Speaking to Showtime Sports in the US on Friday night, Mayweather, 37, said he wants his next fight to be against the Filipino star.

  • Judge: Boy, 14, shouldn't have been executed in SC
    Judge: Boy, 14, shouldn't have been executed in SC

    COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — More than 70 years after South Carolina sent a 14-year-old black boy to the electric chair in the killings of two white girls in a segregated mill town, a judge threw out the conviction, saying the state committed a great injustice.

  • Soccer-Man City primed to pounce on leaders Chelsea

    (fixes headline, no changes to text) By Michael Hann LONDON, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Rejuvenated Manchester City can pile the pressure on Premier League leaders Chelsea for the first time this season if they beat struggling visitors Crystal Palace on Saturday. With Chelsea not playing at Stoke City until Monday, a City victory at the Etihad Stadium against a Palace side who have failed to win their last four Premier League matches would put the champions level on 39 points with Jose Mourinho's men. ...

  • Freed American endured years of declining health
    Freed American endured years of declining health

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Alan Gross spent five years wasting away in a Cuban prison, losing hope that he would ever be free and at one point apparently contemplating suicide. He dropped more than 100 pounds, developed hip problems and lost most of the vision in one eye.

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