Asia and Australia Edition: Your Monday Briefing: China, North Korea, Roger Bannister

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Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican’s third-highest-ranking official, will go before a Melbourne court to determine if there’s enough evidence for him to stand trial over “historical sexual offenses.”

The case will be a test of Australia’s justice system and the Vatican’s efforts to hold clergy members accountable after decades of abuse scandals. Cardinal Pell, shown above in June, has denied the accusations.

Here’s a guide to what we know and what we don’t.

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Ahn Young-Joon/Associated Press

South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, is sending two of his closest aides to North Korea to meet its reclusive leader, Kim Jong-un.

The trip’s goal is to jump-start dialogue between the North and the U.S. But Washington is insisting that any talks be centered on denuclearization, and Pyongyang has again rejected such a precondition. Above, President Trump and Mr. Moon on television in Seoul on Friday.

Our reporter investigated North Korea’s deep ties to Egypt, where the North’s embassy is believed to be a clearinghouse for illicit arms sales.

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Adam Ferguson for The New York Times

• “I took some risks and I decided to photograph how I wanted to. I didn’t really care what anyone thought.”

That was our own Adam Ferguson, who was named photographer of the year in the 75th Pictures of the Year International competition.

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His entry included images of a detention camp in Papua New Guinea for refugees seeking asylum in Australia; of Nigerian girls that Boko Haram recruited as suicide bombers, above; and of a road trip through the Australian outback, where he was born.

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Business

HNA Group, the Chinese conglomerate, racked up $50 billion in big purchases and investments in companies like Hilton Hotels, Deutsche Bank and Virgin Australia. Now it’s facing $90 billion in debt, and one-third of that is due this year.

• Australia’s deepest gold mine, the historic Gwalia mine, released plans to dig more than two kilometers, or more than 1.2 miles, below the Earth’s surface.

• Harvard, the world’s richest university, lost about $1 billion betting on natural resources, including vineyards, teak forests and a cotton farm in Australia.

Here’s a snapshot of global markets.

In the News

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Ronen Zvulun/Reuters

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, embroiled in a bribery scandal in Israel, meets President Trump in Washington. His visit carries great consequence for Israel’s historically close U.S. ties. [The New York Times]

• Australian health officials are checking whether cantaloupes contaminated with listeria have been exported. An outbreak last week killed three people and sickened at least 12 others. [Reuters]

Barnaby Joyce, Australia’s scandal-ridden former deputy prime minister, said he had “no choice” but to reveal that the paternity of his partner’s unborn son is a “gray area.” [ABC]

• “Extraordinarily ungracious”: After Sunday’s election loss in Tasmania, the opposition leader has been attacked for an “angry concession speech full of vitriol.” [News.com.au]

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• In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel formed a government with the Social Democrats, ending six months of political limbo. [The New York Times]

• The world’s longest-imprisoned journalist was freed in Uzbekistan. Yusuf Ruzimuradov, accused of sedition, was released after 19 years. [The New York Times]

Smarter Living

Tips, both new and old, for a more fulfilling life.

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Jing Wei

• Social disconnection is a serious matter. But let’s not whip up a panic.

• Decide when to mention at work that you have young children.

• Recipe of the day: Roasted cauliflower and blue cheese make for a satisfying, meatless pasta dinner.

Noteworthy

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David Maurice Smith for The New York Times

• “To hell with decorum”: Our Australia food critic kept leaning to inhale intoxicating aromas from her dinner at Parwana Afghan Kitchen, Adelaide’s most in-demand reservation. “If someone made a perfume that accurately evoked the rice at Parwana, I would bathe in the stuff,” she writes.

• In memoriam. Roger Bannister, the first athlete to break the four-minute mile, in 1954; David Ogden Stiers, 75, an American actor best known for playing Maj. Charles Winchester III on the TV series “M*A*S*H”

• And the New Zealand police plan to re-examine the case of a teenager who tried to shoot Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip in 1981, and who was never charged with attempted murder.

Back Story

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Andrea Mohin/The New York Times

You might expect to find advice about how to reject a marriage proposal in the Smarter Living section of the Morning Briefing.

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But it’s relevant for today’s Back Story. On this day in 1839, Charlotte Brontë wrote what might be considered a classic rejection letter (eight years before the publication of her best-known work, “Jane Eyre”).

Her suitor was the Rev. Henry Nussey, the brother of her close friend Ellen. He proposed by letter, shortly before Brontë’s 23rd birthday. She responded a few days later, kindly but firmly:

“Before answering your letter, I might have spent a long time in consideration of its subject; but as from the first moment of its reception and perusal I determined on which course to pursue, it seemed to me that delay was wholly unnecessary.”

She offered a face-saving explanation: “I have no personal repugnance to the idea of a union with you — but I feel convinced that mine is not the sort of disposition calculated to form the happiness of a man like you.”

Brontë went on to publish a collection of poetry with her sisters Emily and Anne in 1846. Her novel “Jane Eyre” was published the next year under the male pseudonym Currer Bell, which was based partly on the name of the man whose marriage proposal she did accept (after two tries): Arthur Bell Nicholls.

Chris Stanford contributed reporting.

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Your Morning Briefing is published weekday mornings and updated online. Sign up here to get it by email in the Australian, Asian, European or American morning. You can also receive an Evening Briefing on U.S. weeknights.

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