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Montreal Mermaid School Lets You Shake Your Tail

Aqua Sirene(MONTREAL) -- In Disney's animated classic The Little Mermaid, the story's protagonist Ariel sings her little heart out about wanting to be "Part of Your World" and walk among the humans.

But in real life, many water enthusiasts pine for the opposite experience: acting out a fantasy of swimming as gracefully and buoyantly as a mermaid.

And now they can. No ticket to Atlantis, necessary.

AquaMermaid, which opened earlier this month in Montreal, Quebec, is a fitness program that bills itself as a "mermaid school," offering children and adults classes in which they can slip on a monofin and live to tell the tale.

"I’d been doing some modeling and a friend asked me to do an underwater photo shoot wearing a mermaid tail," explained founder Marielle Chartier Hénault, 24, on how she came up with the idea. "People kept stopping by the pool, laughing and smiling, and I felt like it was such a happy environment."

Inspired by the response she'd received at the photo shoot, Chartier Hénault decided to launch her own business offering the experience to others as part of a fitness program.

"Some people think it’s a joke, and in general they assume it’s really easy to move around [wearing a monofin] but once they put the tail on they realize you need to know how to swim," she told ABC News. "It’s hard, it involves a lot of core work and you really need to understand the weight movement of your body using the butterfly technique."

Because of the dual languages spoken in Montreal, the school operates under two names, AquaMermaid and the French translation AquaSirene.

But a mermaid's appeal appears to be universal.

Since launching in the first week of February, more than 150 people have signed up for classes, birthday parties or other private events featuring mermaid school instruction. All students receive a monofin to slip on during the workout with a plastic tail at the bottom and a colorful sleeve that wraps around the lower half of the body.

"It has been cool that so many men have come out," said Chartier Hénault, of her mermen students. "They quickly realized that it involved a lot of core muscles, cardio and a really good workout."

But more than any health benefits, Chartier Hénault feels she is allowing anyone from age 7 and up to live out a fantasy.

"It's more about having fun and having a dream come true," she said. "Nothing with mermaids existed before in Canada. I am hoping to bring the idea to the U.S. soon."


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Prince Harry to Leave the Military

Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Britain’s Prince Harry is planning to leave the military, ABC News has learned.

"Captain Wales," as he is known in the military, has served two tours of duty in Afghanistan and his principle focus when he leaves active duty will be to continue to foster programs which support disabled veterans.

Harry, 30, is currently engaged in a U.K. Ministry of Defense recovery capability program to provide the appropriate assistance and support to the wounded, injured and sick who are trying to reintegrate into society.

Royal sources told ABC News, "Harry's work with service members remains intensely important to him."

Prince Harry, the fourth-in-line to the British throne, joined the British Army in May 2005 and rose to the rank of Apache helicopter commander in July after three years of training. The British Defense Ministry named Harry the best front-seat pilot, or co-pilot gunner, in February 2012 from his class of more than 20 fellow Apache helicopter pilots.

The prince returned to England in January 2013 from a five-month deployment to Afghanistan with the Royal Air Force’s 662 Squadron of the Army Air Corps, where he served as an Apache co-pilot gunner.

Harry also served on the front lines for two and one half months as a forward air controller in Afghanistan's Helmand province in 2007-2008 before his cover was blown and he returned to the U.K.

The Evening Standard's Royal Editor Robert Jobson, who first broke the story, cites a “senior source” as saying that Harry thought “long and hard about his decision to leave active military service.”

Last September, Prince Harry launched the high-profile Invictus Games in London, a four-day event that showcased injured service men and women from 14 countries competing in everything from cycling, wheelchair basketball and rugby to sitting volleyball and swimming.

“The point of them is to basically use the power of sport to help these guys through the rehabilitation,” Harry said at the time. “It’s basically a pathway to allow the wounded, injured and sick communities within the U.K. - and across the board as well because we’ve got 14 nations coming to it – giving them a pathway back into employment.”

Prince Harry is expected to spend several weeks with the Australian military forces before he leaves active service.

The royal source told ABC News, "Like many soldiers Prince Harry is at a cross roads in his military career and took time to evaluate, 'Do you continue as a career soldier or do you decide to pursue a different path?'"

Harry's main focus, the source added, will remain aiding veterans but he will have, "more time to focus on his other passion, conservation and wildlife issues in Africa."

Prince Harry is the co-founder of Sentebale, an AIDS charity he started with Prince Seeiso of Lesotho 10 years ago. The charity, which means "forget me not," was a tribute to their mothers. Sentebale aims to help the vulnerable children of Lesotho, which has the third-largest HIV/AIDS incidence in the world.

The move away from the military will allow Harry to spend more time with the children of LeSotho and pioneering programs to foster the work his charity has started there.

Prince Harry will also continue to represent his grandmother, Her Majesty The Queen, on official duties at home and abroad as a senior member of the royal family.



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Prince William Retraces Mother’s Steps in Asia

James Whatling - Pool/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- Britain’s Prince William arrived in Tokyo in the rain Thursday, making a trip similar to the one made by his mother 20 years ago.

William, 32, waved to fans on Tokyo Bay and laid a wreath at the Yokohama War Cemetery to commemorate the fallen from World War II.

The prince is traveling without his wife, Duchess Kate, who is expecting the couple’s second child in April.

It was 20 years ago when his mother, the late Princess Diana of Wales, made a similar solo trip to Japan, surrounded by fans in what came to be known as, “Diana fever.”

“Over 100,000 people turned out to see her,” Patrick Jephson, Diana’s former private secretary, told ABC News.

“A few years before that she went with Prince Charles,” Jephson said. “Both visits very successful. Both very influential.”

While in Tokyo, Prince William met with one of Japan’s most famous astronauts, Soichi Noguchi, and revealed he once dreamed of being an astronaut.

“When I was younger, I dreamed of being an astronaut, but I also wanted to be a policeman or a fire-breather. That might have been a bit alternative,” said William, who instead chose a career as a helicopter pilot.

William’s next stop after Tokyo will be China, where he is not a household name.

On the eve of William’s arrival, however, China surprisingly announced that it will ban the import of elephant ivory products for one year, a change for which the prince has been advocating for years.

The last Royal trip to China came almost 30 years ago when William’s grandparents, Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth, visited the country.

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Greek Orthodox Compound in Jerusalem Vandalized

Photo by Salih Zeki Fazlioglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- A Greek Orthodox seminary on Mount Zion in Jerusalem was vandalized on Thursday morning with nationalist and racist graffiti  painted on the walls and a fire believed to have been set intentionally.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said in a press release that "it is inconceivable that an act like this could happen in a house of prayer." Calling the incident "a heinous crime." He added that those who took part in the crime "not only threaten to set fire to places of worship holy to all of us, but ignite the regional powder keg upon which we all sit."

Rivlin also spoke of the obligation to protect and conserve holy sites. "We cannot allow such attacks to sabotage the common fabric of our lives here," he said, "we all have a responsibility to put an end to these terrible acts."

Rivlin spoke with Patriarch Theophilos III of the seminary on Thursday.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat posted to Twitter on Thursday, condemning the attack and making a call to "eradicate this behavior & restore peace & coexistence in #Jerusalem."

I vigorously condemned the arson at the seminar this morning. We must eradicate this behavior & restore peace & coexistence in #Jerusalem.

— Mayor Nir Barkat (@NirBarkat) February 26, 2015

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'Jihadi John': Eric Holder Says US 'Working on' Ways to Kill or Capture Him

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The U.S. government has been “thinking about” and “working on” ways to either kill or capture the ISIS propagandist known as “Jihadi John,” the nation’s top law enforcement official says.

Over the past year, as it has been wreaking havoc in Syria and Iraq and recruiting tens of thousands of fighters from around the world, ISIS has released several videos online showing the man with a distinctly British accent standing beside hostages from the United States and elsewhere as they were being beheaded.

“I think there is something to be said for holding accountable [and] getting at the people who are responsible for these barbaric acts,” Attorney General Eric Holder told ABC News’ Pierre Thomas in what is likely to be one of Holder’s last TV interviews before stepping down.

The BBC and Washington Post Thursday identified “Jihadi John” as Mohammed Emwazi, a college graduate with a degree in computer programming who grew up in a part of London described by some as working class. He reportedly left for Syria in 2012 and then joined ISIS.

In the interview with ABC News, Holder refused to confirm those reports, insisting nothing “would be served” by revealing the true identity of the masked man.

“It would cut back any of the operational possibilities we have been considering,” Holder added.

Nevertheless, asked whether he can guarantee “Jihadi John” will face justice, Holder said: “The vow that I can make to the American people, along with our allies, is that we will hold accountable all of the people who have been responsible for these heinous, barbaric acts. ...That is something that we are focused on each and every day.”

President Obama echoed those sentiments, saying the United States is “consistent and we are patient.”

“Eventually, if you hurt an American, you are going to be brought to justice in some fashion,” the president said in an interview Thursday with ABC News’ Seattle affiliate, KOMO-TV. “I’m confident we will get the job done. ...It will take a little bit of time but in the end, this death cult that has developed there...is a dead end.”


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 if you hurt an Americans you are going to be brought to justice in some fashion," 



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Adultery Law Abolished in South Korea

oztasbc/iStock/Thinkstock(SEOUL, South Korea) -- A South Korean court ruling could potentially impact thousands of individuals who faced adultery charges in the last several years.

The Constitutional Court has abolished a 62-year-old law that banned extramarital affairs.

The highest court in the country ruled Thursday that the law suppresses personal freedoms.

Under the law, having sex with a married person was punishable by up to two years in prison.

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Jihadi John: What We Know About the Alleged Terrorist

Obtained by ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The man believed to be the ISIS terrorist dubbed "Jihadi John" has been identified as a British man named Mohammed Emwazi.

The terrorist's identity was first reported by the BBC and The Washington Post, which cited a friend who had "no doubt" that Emwazi was the masked man believed to be seen in at least seven ISIS beheading videos.

Emwazi was born in Kuwait, but moved to England when he was 6 years old, according to a rights group that worked with him in the years before he reportedly left England for Syria.

Emwazi's family lives in Queens Park, a neighborhood in North West London. The neighborhood is considered to be working class.

Neighbors told ABC News that Emwazi's relatives have not been seen at their home in the past week.

The University of Westminster confirmed to ABC News that a student by the same name left the school in 2009.

"If these allegations are true, we are shocked and sickened by the news," a spokesman for the university said in a statement.

In 2010, Emwazi reportedly attempted to move to Kuwait but was stopped from doing so by British counter-terrorism officials, according to activist group CAGE.

CAGE describes itself as an "advocacy organisation" that regularly works on behalf of Guantanamo Bay detainees and Muslims who have been detained for terrorism. Their employee, Asim Qureshi, spoke Thursday about how communicated with Emwazi repeatedly between 2010 and 2012 when he is believed to have gone to Syria.

Qureshi described Emwazi as a "beautiful young man" when they met in the summer of 2009 to discuss Emwazi’s complaints about being detained and harassed by British authorities as he traveled.

He said he cannot confirm that the man in the video is Emwazi because his face is covered, but added that the personality is very different from the one he knew in London. He described Emwazi as kind, gentle and soft spoken.

He said Emwazi told him he didn't "want to live in a country where I’m treated as the enemy."

"What happened to him after then? I can’t tell you. I don’t know myself," Qureshi said.

Jihadi John gained international attention in August 2014 when he appeared to be the masked man who executed American journalist James Foley in a video that became the first in a disturbing string of similar executions.

He spoke English with a British accent in the video, hence his nickname, Jihadi John.

Though he always appeared covered, his voice and stature led experts to believe that he was also the figure pictured in at least six other videos showing the deaths of Steven Sotloff, David Haines, Alan Henning, Peter Kassig, Kenji Goto Jogo and Haruna Yakuawa.

Neither British nor American government officials have publicly confirmed the masked man's identity, but both have expressed concerns about how this revelation could impact ongoing investigations.

A spokesperson for Prime Minister David Cameron said that he "would be concerned about information being put into the public domain at any time that might jeopardize ongoing police or security investigations or the safety of British citizens."

A press officer for the White House National Security Council issued a statement Thursday morning.

"The U.S. government continues to investigate the murder of American citizens by ISIL. We will not comment on ongoing investigations and therefore are not in a position to confirm or deny the identity of this individual. As the president has said, no matter how long it takes, the United States will not rest until we find and hold accountable the terrorists who are responsible for the murders of our citizens."

What to know:

  • The ISIS executioner dubbed "Jihadi John" has been named by news reports.
  • He is believed to be a Kuwait-born British man.
  • He attended college in London and his family lives there now.
  • He is thought to have fled to Syria in 2012.
  • He allegedly killed at least seven foreign captives on video.


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‘Military-Grade’: Alleged Arms Traffickers Extradited to US

Colin Anderson/Blend Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Three alleged international arms dealers have been extradited to the U.S. from Europe to stand trial for allegedly conspiring to sell “military-grade” machine guns and anti-aircraft weapons to a Colombian terrorist group, the Department of Justice announced Thursday.

The trio was arrested in December, at which time the Department of Justice described in a statement how the suspects allegedly had unwittingly attempted to unload their deadly wares on confidential sources working with the DEA.

The suspects believed the weapons were going to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, the DOJ said.

“[The suspects] agreed to provide these weapons to the [DEA’s confidential sources] with the specific understanding that the weapons would be used to kill Americans and, in particular, to shoot down American helicopters and airplanes,” the DOJ statement said.

“As alleged, these three men were ready and willing merchants of death, poised to sell sophisticated weapons to a terrorist organization,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in statement Thursday.

The Justice Department said the three – two alleged weapons brokers based in Romania and one in Greece – were spirited to the U.S. from Montenegro Wednesday and are expected to appear in court late Thursday.

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New Murals by Banksy Spotted in Gaza Strip

@banksy/Instagram(GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip) -- The anonymous street artist known as Banksy has visited the Gaza Strip, leaving behind several murals, according to the artist's official website.

Banksy is known for creating work with political or satirical messages.

One of the paintings in Beit Hanoun features children playing on a guard tower. Another shows a large kitten drawn on the wall of a home that witnesses say was destroyed during Operation Protective Edge, the Israeli war in Gaza during the summer of 2014.

On his website, the artist captioned the kitten photo, saying, "A local man came up and said 'Please -- what does this mean?' I explained I wanted to highlight the destruction in Gaza by posting photos on my website -- but on the internet people only look at pictures of kittens.”

The artist also posted a mini-documentary on his site to further show the conditions in Gaza.

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Antarctica 'Penguin Post Office' Job Attracts Record Number of Applicants

United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust(PORT LOCKROY, Antarctica) -- People with a penchant for penguins are perfect for this position.

A job posting to man the "Penguin Post Office" in Port Lockroy, Antarctica, has received a record number of applicants: more than 1,500 since Feb. 16. In 2014, there were only 82 applicants all year long.

United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust (UKAHT) is looking for four people to, in addition to taking care of the 70,000 cards posted each year for delivery to 100 countries, monitor the impact of the approximately 18,000 visitors to Port Lockroy, situated on Goudier Island in the Antarctic Peninsula, on the wildlife, plus record the number of visitors and ships visiting the area.

One reason for the increase in applications, the organization said, was the airing of the documentary Penguin Post Office on BBC2 in the U.K. in July 2014 and on PBS in the U.S. in January 2015.

Each year, the UKAHT’s U.K. team -- based in Cambridge -- searches for committed individuals to make up a small team of four to spend five months at its flagship site, Port Lockroy. The job runs from November 2015 to mid-March and pay is $1,700 per month.

Job Description:

"The team chosen to spend the 2015/16 season at Port Lockroy will assist the Base Leader in the efficient running of the post office, maintenance and museum operation, with areas of responsibility being divided up amongst team members. A can-do attitude is vital as is good physical fitness, co-ordination (carrying heavy boxes over slippery rocks and slushy snow whilst dodging the local gentoo penguin population is a frequent requirement), environmental awareness and a practical knowledge of minimum impact living. Above all successful candidates need to be passionate about the Antarctic."

No post office experience is necessary and applicants need not be British citizens.

Amy Kincaid, a member of the current team, said applicants need to be "realistic." She called the living quarters (pictured) "surprisingly cozy," though added that "being confined to an island the size of a football pitch isn’t for everyone."

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Water Found in Astronaut's Helmet After Second of Three Spacewalks

NASA TV(NEW YORK) -- At the end of Wednesday's spacewalk, NASA astronaut Terry Virts reported seeing a small amount of floating water in his helmet.

According to NASA, the issue was first noticed during repressurization following the bulk of Wednesday's spacewalk -- the second of three spacewalks in which Virts and Barry Wilmore are working to lay cables and install equipment to allow commercial spacecraft to dock with the International Space Station.

During the spacewalk, Virts was wearing spacesuit #3005, which experienced a similar issue in December 2013.

The spacesuit will be carefully assessed before the third scheduled spacewalk on Sunday morning.

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Scientists Discover Brightest Quasar Ever Powered by Black Hole, Dating to Dawn of Time

NASA/JPL-Caltech(NEW YORK) -- In a galaxy far, far away, a colossal black hole 12 billion times more massive than our sun has been discovered by astronomers, sparking a new mystery about the early universe.

Located 12.8 billion light-years from Earth, astronomers discovered the behemoth black hole inside of a quasar that shines 420 trillion times brighter than the sun, according to an article published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

The quasar is so bright, scientists say, because of the radiation emitted as matter is accelerated and sucked into the massive black hole.

The ancient quasar was believed to have been shining brightly when the universe was less than a billion years old. With the universe now dated at 13.8 billion years old, the quasar is shining much brighter and is extraordinarily bigger than what scientists would have expected for the ancient body.

There are 40 known quasars that date back to the first one billion years after the Big Bang, according to scientists, with each having a black hole with the mass of one billion suns. By comparison, the newly discovered quasar, called SDSS J0100 2802, is a giant among giants.

The sheer size of the black hole has posed a new question about how something so massive was able to form at the dawn of time.

"How can a quasar so luminous, and a black hole so massive, form so early in the history of the universe, at an era soon after the earliest stars and galaxies have just emerged?" Xiaohui Fan, a professor astronomy at the University of Arizona and co-author of the study, said in a statement. "And what is the relationship between this monster black hole and its surrounding environment, including its host galaxy?"

It's another mystery of the universe that astronomers will continue to ponder.

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'Jihadi John' Identity Revealed, Former Senior Intelligence Official Confirms

Obtained by ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The man known as "Jihadi John," a British-accented man who appeared in all black in several ISIS videos in which he appears to behead Westerners, has been identified as Mohammed Emwazi, a former senior U.S. intelligence official confirmed to ABC News.

The man's identity had previously been known to American and British officials, but had not been revealed publicly. The BBC first reported his identity.

 British authorities have declined to comment on the man's identification. Commander Richard Walton of the London Metropolitan Police's Counter Terrorism Command (SO15) told BBC, "We have previously asked media outlets not to speculate about the details of our investigation on the basis that life is at risk."

"We are not going to confirm the identity of anyone at this stage or give an update on the progress of this live counter-terrorism investigation," he said.

The Washington Post quotes a friend of Emwazi, who said that he had "no doubt that Mohammed is Jihadi John."

The Post described Emwazi as being from a "well-to-do" family in London, who graduated college with a computer programming degree.

A spokesperson for the White House's National Security Council said in a statement that the NSC was "not able to confirm or deny the reports." The spokesperson referred additional questions to the U.K.

The University of Westminster also released a statement through a spokesperson Thursday morning saying that "a Mohammed Emwazi left the University six years ago." The statement said that "if these allegations are true, we are shocked and sickened by the news."

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Prince William Qualifies to Be Air Ambulance Pilot

Photo by Tim Rooke - Pool /Getty Images(LONDON) -- Prince William completed and passed qualification exams to be an air ambulance pilot, Buckingham Palace confirms.

The Duke of Cambridge pass Air Transport Pilot's Licence exams, required before he could begin working as an Air Ambulance Pilot. The 14 exams included "a range of aviation topics including the Principles of Flight, Navigation, Flight Planning and Air Law."

Prince William is currently on a trip to Japan and China through March 4, and upon his return, the palace says, "he will start working for East Anglian Air Ambulance and be formally employed by Bond Air Services."

Still, the prince will be required to complete additional testing "involving aircraft training, in-flight skills testing and further written exams."

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Human Rights Group Says Number of Syrian Christians Abducted by ISIS Up to 220

MatthewBrosseau/iStock/Thinkstock(DAMASCUS) -- The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says that the number of Assyrian Christians abducted by ISIS in northeastern Syria has risen to about 220.

The abductees, which include children, were rounded up from 11 villages. The human rights group speculates that ISIS may be holding them in the area of Mount Abdulaziz.

The reports of the abduction came following a battle between a Syrian Christian militia and the ISIS militants. Reportedly, the Christian militia forced ISIS from several villages, however, ISIS fought back, taking the Christians hostage as they regained parts of the area.

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