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Opera legend Placido Domingo defends himself against sexual harassment claims

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Opera great Placido Domingo defended himself against multiple allegations of sexual harassment Tuesday, insisting that he believed all interactions and relationships throughout his long career “were always welcomed and consensual.”

In a report by the Associated Press, several accusers, one of whom was identified, accused Domingo of trying to use his position as one of opera’s most celebrated singers to pressure them into sexual relationships.

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Eight singers and a dancer told the news agency that they were sexually harassed in incidents going back to the 1980s. One said Domingo had put his hand down her skirt while three said he had forcibly kissed them.

Some said they felt their careers had been damaged by rejecting his advances.

“The allegations from these unnamed individuals dating back as many as thirty years are deeply troubling, and as presented, inaccurate,” Domingo said in a statement sent to AFP via his publicist.

“Still, it is painful to hear that I may have upset anyone or made them feel uncomfortable ? no matter how long ago and despite my best intentions,” he added.

Spanish-born Domingo was one of the most recognized tenors of the 20th century, starring in the Three Tenors alongside Luciano Pavarotti and Jose Carreras.

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In recent years the long-time married singer has transformed himself into a baritone and still performs to packed audiences at the age of 78.

“I believed that all of my interactions and relationships were always welcomed and consensual. People who know me or who have worked with me know that I am not someone who would intentionally harm, offend, or embarrass anyone,” he said.

“However, I recognize that the rules and standards by which we are ? and should be ? measured against today are very different than they were in the past.

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“I am blessed and privileged to have had a more than 50-year career in opera and will hold myself to the highest standards,” he added.

Domingo has made more than 100 albums and picked up 14 Grammy awards. Earlier this year he celebrated his 4,000th performance in a career that stretches back 60 years.

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Domingo has spent most of his later career in the United States as director general of the Los Angeles opera.

The allegations against Domingo are the latest in a series of sexual harassment claims made against high-profile entertainment personalities, which have become known collectively as the #MeToo movement.

They have seen television icon Bill Cosby jailed, with movie mogul Harvey Weinstein awaiting the start of his trial next month.

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California confirms third case of China virus in US

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A patient in California's Orange County was Saturday confirmed as the third person on US soil infected with the new deadly virus that originated in China, health officials said.

The infected person was a traveler from Wuhan, the Chinese city at the epicenter of the outbreak, the Orange County Health Care Agency said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the patient had tested positive for the Novel Coronavirus, it said.

The individual was in isolation in a local hospital and was in good condition.

"There is no evidence that person-to-person transmission has occurred in Orange County. The current risk of local transmission remains low," the health care agency said.

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Japan will evacuate nationals from China virus city: Prime Minister Abe

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Japan will evacuate all its nationals from China's quarantined city of Wuhan, the epicentre of a deadly virus, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Sunday.

"We have decided to send back all (Japanese citizens in Wuhan) to Japan if they wish so, by every means including a chartered flight," Abe told reporters.

"We are coordinating with the Chinese government at various levels, and we will accelerate the process to realise a swift implementation" of the evacuation from Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province in central China, Abe said.

Earlier, a foreign ministry official told AFP that 430 Japanese were in Hubei province.

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Netanyahu hopes to ‘make history’ at talks on Trump peace plan

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced hope Sunday that he can "make history" in Washington this week during talks on US President Donald Trump's peace plan for the Middle East.

Netanyahu has been invited to meet Trump at the White House on Monday and Tuesday to discuss the project, which has already been dismissed by the Palestinians.

"We are in the midst of very dramatic diplomatic developments, but the climax is still ahead of us," Netanyahu told reporters ahead of a weekly cabinet meeting.

"In a short while, I'll leave for Washington to meet my friend, the President of the United States Donald Trump, who will present his deal of the century... I'm full of hope that we can make history," he added.

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