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Joe Jones
The Polish city of Wroclaw and the Spanish Basque city of San Sebastian have begun their year-long stints as joint European Capitals of Culture for 2016, as last year's title holders, Mons and Plzen, handed over the batons.
Their event programmes are scheduled to last all year and are set to cover anything and everything from food to technology, but great efforts are being made to include the visual arts in their offerings.
San Sebastian’s most prominent visual arts exhibition is the ambitious Peace Treaties: 1516-2016 (17 June-2 October), which will include around 300 works of art, as well as publications, seminars and conferences on the past 500 years of war and peace, as represented in the arts.
Works by artists including Francisco Goya, Peter Paul Rubens, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, Francisco de Zurbarán, Jusepe de Ribera, Pablo Picasso and Le Corbusier, as well as contemporary artists such as Hans Haacke, are on loan from institutions including the Louvre in Paris, and the Prado and Reina Sofía museums in Madrid.
Wroclaw, meanwhile, has a cultural programme divided into eight parts: architecture, film, literature, music, opera, performance, visual arts and theatre, each with its own curator.
The Polish critic and curator Michal Bieniek is heading up the visual arts programme, which includes the exhibition Wroclaw’s Europe (20 September-31 December), focusing on the art historical legacy of Wroclaw and Silesia.
The exhibition begins with Bartholomeus Strobel the Younger (1591-around 1647), one of the greatest Silesian painters, who was born in the town.
In a nod to its twin capital of culture, there will also be a presentation of work by the 20th-century Basque sculptor Eduardo Chillida (15 January-13 March).
The cultural programme will officially begin on 17 January in Wroclaw in the presence of Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport; and on 23 January in San Sebastian.
Navracsics said: “Being a European Capital of Culture helps cities create a sense of community and brings long-lasting benefits to their citizens and their economies.
"I wish Wroclaw and San Sebastian every success as they showcase their cultural programmes in the coming year.”
Joe Jones
A book written by former Charlie Hebdo editor Stephane Charbonnier is due to be published in 2016.
He finished his manifesto just two days before he, along with 11 others, was killed in an attack on the Paris offices of the satirical magazine in January 2015.
Charbonnier's book Open Letter: On Blasphemy, Islamophobia and the True Enemies of Free Expression is due to be published in the new year, but many have already received advance copies.
American chat show host and comedian Dave Rubin shared pictures of the front and back cover on Twitter, which makes for powerful reading.


Joe Jones
Radiohead have offered a Christmas surprise for their fans – a new song, initially intended for the latest James Bond film.
The British band, which has not released an album since 2011 amid persistent speculation about new recordings, said it had been asked to write the theme for Spectre, the latest instalment in the 007 movie series.
Sam Smith's Writing's On The Wall ended up as the movie's theme song instead, with Thom Yorke declaring: “It didn't work out, but became something of our own, which we love very much.”
Radiohead have now made their brooding, orchestral song, titled Spectre, available as a free download on Soundcloud.
Many fans expressed their approval on Twitter. Music critic Pete Paphides was among them, writing: "It sounds exquisite on first listen, sensational string arrangement."
Before Spectre came out in October, there had been speculation that Radiohead had been chosen for the coveted task of recording the theme tune.
In July, one bookmaker suspended betting on the identity of the act that had recorded the theme after one punter tried to bet £15,000 on Radiohead.
Bond actor Daniel Craig is known to be a fan of the band, having quizzed Yorke for Interview magazine in 2013.
Joe Jones
Banksy, the legendary graffiti and street artist, recently paid a visit to the “Jungle” Refugee Camp in Calais, where he drew four new pieces of artwork. 
Of particular note is a piece depicting Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in his signature black polo neck, holding an early Apple computer in one hand while slinging a black sack over his shoulder.
The American tech company founder, who died in 2011, was the son of a Syrian migrant.
"We're often led to believe migration is a drain on the country's resources but Steve Jobs was the son of a Syrian migrant," said the artist, whose works include murals created to mark the London 2012 Olympics.
"Apple is the world's most profitable company, it pays over $7 billion (£4.6 billion) a year in taxes – and it only exists because they allowed in a young man from Homs," he added.
Since closing his Dismaland "bemusement park" in September, the artist has sent wood and fixtures from the park's dismantled castle to the Jungle refugee camp, which reportedly houses around 7,000 refugees.
The Dismaland website now features an image of the Cinderella castle with a hot air balloon flying over it, above the heading Dismal Aid.
Below a statement reads: "Creating housing from surplus materials and leftover workers.
"When Dismaland closed its doors it was decided that instead of chucking all the leftover crew in the bin they should be recycled into aid workers.
"They've since travelled to the Calais migrant camp and so far have completed 12 dwellings, a community area and a children's play park."

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