Must-Reads from Around the World

Why did North Korea agree to Google's visit? Will the next Czech leader be more Europe-friendly? And what was behind the killing of three Kurdish women in Paris?

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David Guttenfelder / AP

Executive Chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt, third from left, and former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, second from right, watch as a North Korean student surfs the Internet at a computer lab during a tour of Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang, North Korea, Jan. 8, 2013.

Google Takes a Gander — As Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt toured North Korea this week, some wondered: What’s in it for North Korea? The New York Times explains that the visit, during which Schmidt and former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson toured the police state’s most advanced computer labs, was “bound to be useful to a new national leader whom analysts say needs to show his people that their impoverished nation is moving forward.” The sojourn to the dictatorship puzzled some in the West, and angered others. Critics on the right, such as former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton said the delegation was inadvertently helping to improve the image of 20-something North Korean leader Kim Jung-un.

Election Excitement — The Czech people will head to the polls Friday and Saturday for the country’s first-ever direct presidential election. The vote marks the end of the tenure of the current president, Vaclav Klaus, a strident Euro-skeptic. The next Czech leader is likely to be much more Europe-friendly. Candidates include two former prime ministers and a political newbie, opera composer Vladimir Franz, who, with his head-to-toe blue tattoos, has been likened to “an exotic creature from Papua New Guinea,” according to the Guardian. Despite his inexperience, Franz’s campaign has fired the imagination of young voters by speaking out against corruption, telling the AP that Czech voters are “fed up with this crap,” according to the FT.

Paris Assassinations — French authorities are investigating the killing of three Kurdish women in Paris, but have yet to identify who was behind the slayings, writes TIME’s Bruce Crumley. Turkish politicians have suggested that the crime arose from in-fighting in the Kurdish separatist party PKK. But many Kurds, including hundreds who demonstrated in Paris on Thursday, blame Ankara for what they perceive as a “political crime.” The murders have drawn a spotlight on talks between the Turkish government and the Kurdish separatist party PKK, with Kurds in Paris demanding “a political solution” to the 28-year struggle between them.