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Indian Houdini drowns after ‘magic’ act goes wrong

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Indian police on Monday recovered the body of a magician who drowned while trying to replicate an underwater Houdini-inspired stunt — tying himself up with chains and ropes and being lowered into a river.

Rescue workers found the body of Chanchal Lahiri late Monday in the Hooghly river, the deputy commissioner of the port division of Kolkata police, Syed Waquar Raza, told AFP

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The 40-year-old Lahiri, who was known by his stage name “Jadugar Mandrake” (Wizard Mandrake), was lowered by winch into the river in Kolkata on Sunday in a yellow and red costume.

But the 40-year-old — his legs and his arms tightly bound — failed to emerge from the water, to the horror of onlookers including his family and team members.

Authorities had initially believed that the vanishing act could be part of the stunt but immediately mobilised help to rescue him.

Lahiri told AFP before the attempted escape act that he had successfully pulled off a similar stunt 21 years ago at the same venue in the eastern city.

“I was inside a bulletproof glass box tied with chain and locks and dropped down from Howrah bridge. Then I came out within 29 seconds,” he said.

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He admitted it would be tough to free himself this time.

“If I can open it up then it will be magic, but if I can’t it will be tragic,” he said.

He also said he was undertaking the death-defying stunt to “revive interest in magic”.

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When Lahiri tried another stunt at the river in 2013, he was assaulted by onlookers who saw him escape from a locked cage via a door that was clearly visible.

He was beaten and punched and his long flowing golden-brown wig was pulled off by the crowd.

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Almost a decade earlier, he declared he would walk on the river waters but had to beat a hasty retreat when the act went wrong.

Harry Houdini was a Hungarian-born American stuntman who became a sensation in the early 20th century with daredevil feats including escaping from a crate lowered into the East River in New York in 1912.


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‘The worst day of the presidency so far for Donald Trump’: Advisor to four presidents

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President Donald Trump has not had a worse day in office than he suffered on Friday, according to a top former White House advisor.

David Gergen served in the administrations of Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. He was interviewed Friday night by CNN's Anderson Cooper.

"If you are looking to throw somebody under the bus, Gordon Sondland would probably be a prime candidate to be next in line to be thrown under the bus," Cooper said.

"I think the president will wait patiently to see what he says and then decide," Gergen replied.

He then offered his analysis of the situation.

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Chris Hayes breaks down the ‘busy day in the criminal chronicles of one President Donald J. Trump’

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MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes connected the dots between all of the bombshell news that was reported Friday in the impeachment hearings into President Donald Trump.

"Good God, today has been ten days and this week has been ten weeks," Hayes said. "And there are a million things happening at once."

"Just in the past couple of hours, for instance, we just got this incredibly incriminating and damning behind closed doors testimony from a U.S. foreign service officer that was still supposed to be kind of like the B-story today, the sideshow," he explained. "It's a guy who works in the U.S. embassy in Ukraine, a guy named David Holmes. He testified behind closed doors that he could hear president Trump talking on the phone to the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union who was an inaugural donor, and they were in a restaurant in Kiev and the president was shouting so loudly on the phone that [Gordon] Sondland had to hold the phone away from his ear because it was hurting his eardrum, so then everyone could hear."

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Trump ignored aides’ advice before first Ukraine call — and it destroyed his impeachment defense: report

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President Donald Trump has repeatedly referred to himself as his own top advisor and a political "genius." But his interactions with Ukraine at the heart of the impeachment inquiry could demonstrate the limitations of such an approach to governing.

Friday's bombshell, behind-closed-door testimony from David Holmes has made White House aides unhappy, but the bad news for the administration did not stop there.

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