Gradations of the Truth: the interesting case of Cheeta/Cheetah the chimp

Here is interesting material for a case study, featuring Hollywood, iconic images, varieties of journalism, and literary fiction:

1. Journalism:

A: ‘Cheetah Dead: Chimpanzee Sidekick From 1930s Tarzan Flicks Dies At 80’, AP/Huffington Post, December 28, 2011

B: ‘Cheetah the famous chimp dead at 80’, CBS News: News Video, December 28, 2011
Cheetah, America’s most famous chimp said to be in the original Tarzan movies, has died. Jeff Glor reports Cheetah was reportedly 80 years old.

C: Tarzan’s Chimp is Dead’, ABC News: News Video, December 28, 2011

D: Beloved ‘Tarzan’ Chimp Cheetah Dead at 80′, Mike Baron, The Post Chronicle, December 28, 2011:

2. Sceptical Journalism:

A. ‘Cheetah the chimp is dead? Maybe not’, Bryan Alexander, USA Today, December 29, 2011

B. ‘Chimp claimed as Cheetah from the Tarzan films dies’, Ben Child, The Guardian, Ben Child, Guardian, December 28, 2011
Primate purported to be Johnny Weissmuller’s co-star in classics such as Tarzan the Ape Man dies at Florida animal sanctuary.

C. ‘Mystery surrounds Cheeta, purportedly the world’s oldest chimpanzee’, Los Angeles Times, local, February 14, 2009

3. Investigative Journalism:

‘Lie of the Jungle: The Truth About Cheeta the Chimpanzee’, R.D. Rosen, Washington Post Magazine, December 7, 2008

(R. D. Rosen is the author of many books, including the recent “A Buffalo in the House” and the Edgar Award-winning mystery novel “Strike Three You’re Dead” [and its four sequels]. He can be reached at

4. Social Media:  ‘Remembering Cheetah’, Facebook, Suncoast Primate Sanctuary

5. Fiction:

Me Cheeta: The Autobiography, James Lever, Fourth Estate, London, 2008

The Guardian:
The Spectator:
The Daily Telegraph:
The Age:

Photographs of the year 2011 | World news | The Guardian

Photographs of the year 2011 | World news | The Guardian.

Stunning photographs.

Lunar and solar eclipse photos of 2011

Lunar and solar eclipse photos of 2011.

Do China’s Village Protests Help the Regime? by Ian Johnson | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books

Do China’s Village Protests Help the Regime? by Ian Johnson | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books.

“The overall sense in western reports is that things are spinning out of control in China, that the center can’t hold and the Communist Party can’t manage…….And yet to a degree this analysis doesn’t add up.”

An interesting analysis of why much of Western reporting on the Wukan protests gets it wrong.

Our mutual friend: Charles Dickens at 200 | Editorial | The Guardian

Our mutual friend: Charles Dickens at 200 | Editorial | Comment is free | The Guardian.

Interesting comments on various aspects of life, times and works of Dickens.

Will it or won’t it? ‘Holy grail of particle physics’, leader in The Hindu

For the last three decades, physicists have been combing the entire ranges available to particle accelerators for signatures of Higgs — the elegantly hypothesised elusive particle. The search at CERN, Geneva has been tremendously narrowed down and excitement is in the air. But if Higgs doesn’t show up, there will be an upheaval in the current understanding of the sub-atomic world, with the crucial question of the origin of mass remaining unanswered.

China on the threshold of a historic population shift

By the end of this month, China’s urban population will be larger than its rural population, according to a new Blue Book of statistics published by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

The current disposable income per capita of a rural resident in China is 36 per cent of the corresponding figure for an urban resident, but the rate of growth of incomes of rural residents (13.6 per cent) is significantly higher than the corresponding rate for urban residents (7.8 per cent).

Read the whole report at

Transgenic technology: a report from Cuba

In a report on the Havana 2011 International Biotechnology Congress, held from November 28 through December 3, a Granma correspondent writes:

Although the issue of genetically modified crops is controversial, recognized experts believe that such varieties can contribute to addressing hunger around the world, at a time when the poor rural population — 70% of the planet’s people — continues to grow and prices of essential foods — rice, corn and wheat — continue to escalate alarmingly.

Read the whole report at

(via R. Ramakumar)

Science review of 2011: the year’s 10 biggest stories | Science | The Observer

Science review of 2011: the year's 10 biggest stories | Science | The Observer.

Homelessness around the world

A photo-feature from The Big Picture.

The Changing Role of the News Media in Contemporary India | The Hindu

In this address given in Patiala on December 10, 2011, N. Ram, Editor-in-Chief of The Hindu and president of the Contemporary India section of the 72nd Session of the Indian History Congress, takes a critical look at the changing role of the news media in contemporary India, focussing on some key issues that need to be addressed urgently.

The Changing Role of the News Media in Contemporary India

We may have glimpsed the Higgs boson, say Cern scientists | Science | The Guardian

Physicists have seen strong hints the Higgs boson exists, but a firm discovery may not come before the end of 2012

We may have glimpsed the Higgs boson, say Cern scientists | Science | The Guardian.

A columnist’s view of “The Revival of Russian Communism”

A remarkable article on the consequences for the people of the collapse of the Soviet Union, and a view of the future.

On the economy after 1991: “The wealth produced by the blood and sweat of the Russian workers was swindled out of their hands by such means as voucher-based mass privatisation, which was followed by a wider transfer of state owned assets to private hands…The end of collectivism and the rise of capitalism acted like an epidemic stalking the nation, former communist countries underwent the world’s worst peacetime mortality crisis in the past 50 years, resulting in millions of additional male deaths in the 1990s. To this day, life expectancy in Russia is below that of 1961, when Gagarin flew to space in the era of hope, collectivism and dignity.”

On economic growth under Putin: “Grossly uneven, and the fruits of this growth unequally distributed. 22 oligarchs own $216 billion, while 80 percent of the workforce earns less than $250 per month. The provision of facilities in healthcare, education, transport and scientific research are a pale shadow of those in late Soviet times.”

On the political prospects of the Russian Communist Party: “The program of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation and the speeches and writings of its leader Gennady Zyuganov, call for the nationalisation of the banks and all strategic industries, and for the restoration of universal and world quality free education, health care and scientific research. The declining authority of Russian capitalism’s political representatives provides Russian Communists with the opportunity to ride on the wave of discontent, cracking the image of invincibility that Vladimir Putin and his entourage try to cultivate. If the Communists are seen to be more democratic, closer to the masses, and capable of stimulating Chinese rates of economic growth, their support will rise and a modern and successful Soviet Russia can be born.”

Read the whole article at

“Payday lenders” charge 5000 per cent interest rates

“U. S. lenders pushing short-term loans that charge up to 5,000 per cent interest per year are targeting low-income U. K. borrowers abandoned by high street banks.”

A Financial Times report at

Imagined Lives at the National Portrait Gallery

Eight authors (including crime writers John Banville aka Benjamin Black, Alexander McCall Smith and Minette Walters) have invented imaginary biographies and character sketches based on fourteen unidentified portraits. Who are these men and women, why were they painted, and why do they now find themselves in the Collection of the National Portrait Gallery? With fictional letters, diaries, mini-biographies and memoirs, Imagined Lives creates vivid stories about these unknown sitters from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.