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Heroes and villains

Yoga | Peat bogs | Verona

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Yoga, which has been banned in Alabama’s public schools for 28 years and is proving fiendishly tricky to legalise. Christian groups in the state have blamed it for “injuries, death from stroke, and psychotic episodes”, and view it as a “gateway drug” to Hinduism. Jeremy Gray, a Democratic politician trying to overturn the ban, is baffled – he’s practised yoga for years and is a committed Baptist.


Ivy, which the Royal Horticultural Society wants to rebrand from “garden menace” to “super-plant”. It drives gardeners up the wall with its rapid growth and knotty damage to brickwork. But the RHS is showcasing ivy’s perks – it can cool buildings by 7.2C, acts as “grow-it-yourself insulation” and provides habitat for pollinators – at its flagship garden in Wisley.

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Fair Verona’s city council, which hoped to install turnstiles to curtail the millions of visitors to Juliet’s balcony. But it’s lost the fight. Up to 1,000 people will still be able to cram into the tiny courtyard at any one time, rubbing their hands on the right breast of Juliet’s statue (said to bring luck in love) and ignoring the council’s unromantic concern that, sooner or later, all these visitors will wreck the place.


Maths, not a villain yet, although it could be, says The Daily Telegraph’s Michael Deacon. If it’s elitist to demand accurate spelling, shouldn’t it also be elitist to demand accurate maths? In schools, teachers will be warned against imposing their “own outdated and possibly even colonialist view that seven eights are 56 and that four add five is nine. Marking an answer ‘wrong’ can be damaging for pupils’ self-esteem …

‘Smith! What are three sixes?’

‘Fifteen, sir?’

‘Very good. I would also have accepted nine, 12, 25, William Wordsworth or the Battle of Hastings.’”

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Peat bogs, which, alongside native woodlands, can absorb more carbon from the atmosphere than any other natural habitat, according to Natural England. A 10-metre-deep fenland peat bog can hold eight times more carbon than the equivalent area of tropical rainforest.


Charlie, a small child from Surrey, whose woodland den has angered locals for being too exclusive. The three-year-old’s grandfather built the fort and decorated it with a wooden sign reading “Charlie’s Den”. But the local council felt the sign “suggests a degree of ownership which may deter others from playing”.