There have been allegations of tax avoidance, tough policies for migrants, inappropriate drunken nakedness, and a mass departure of civil servants. There have been complaints of a biased media and an entrenched “deep state” resisting every effort to reform.
The four years of Sweden Democrat rule in the Swedish municipality of Hörby have seen, if not all then at least a bit of, the drama of Donald Trump’s America, played out in and around a country market town of 15,000 people.
Yet when the Sweden’s Democrat’s performance was put to the vote, it raised its share of the vote here by four percentage points, winning an impressive 39 percent.
“We were shrieking with joy. This was something we could only dream of,” says Cecilia Bladh in Zito, the town’s Sweden Democrat mayor, when The Local meets her in her office, which is decorated with black and white photos of horses being traded at long-gone country fairs.
Hörby, in the Skåne countryside 40 minutes drive northeast of Malmö, was one of four towns the populist Sweden Democrats controlled at the time of Sweden’s general election two weeks ago. This month it grew its share of the vote between three and ten percentage points in every one.
“We are very, very happy about the trust that we got from our voters,” Bladh in Zito continues. “I strongly believe that [it’s because] the way we are dealing with questions is very real. It’s reality-based political issues. We have both our feet on the ground, and we listen to our voters and the people here in the municipality. What do you need, what do you want?”
The party has managed to keep open the small schools in the villages surrounding the town, which there had been plans to close and consolidate.
“We said, ‘no, no, no, no way’, because if we take away the countryside schools, the countryside will die out or later,” she says.
It has hired security guards for the city centre, and cut the amount of spending on social welfare by a quarter, she claimed.
“For the fourth year in a row now, we are increasing safety here in Hörby, so we have less problems now than we had before,” she boasts.
Cecilia Bladh in Zito, the mayor of Hörby, holds a press conference about the fire in the town. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
Bladh in Zito and her team have certainly shaken things up, imposing a new organisational structure on the municipality. “We are driving through real change from the ground up, changing the way we look at costs, and changing a lot of the steering documents,” she says.
The SD-led council has tried to halve the municipal budget for “mother-tongue education”, where children with foreign backgrounds are given an hour’s teaching a week in their home language. It has stopped the gay pride rainbow flag from being flown on municipality buildings. It has scrapped an ambition to be “fossil-free by 2020”, and also claims to have slashed the budget for social benefits by a quarter, again by tightening rules for immigrants.
Some has taped a pride flag to the sign at the entrance of Hörby municipality as a protest. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
But it may be that people in Hörby voted for the far-right party itself more than for what it did in the town.
“I think it’s a protest, a protest against those who sit and rule the municipality, who haven’t been listening to the problems people on the ground are facing, and anyway and there’s no one who could do it better,” says 81-year-old Kerstin, as she drags her shopping in a wheeled bag across one of the town’s two central squares.
She voted for the party both in 2018 and again this year because of what she sees as the complacency of the established parties.
The party grew its share of the vote in nearly nine out of every ten municipalities across Sweden, gaining both in its heartlands here in Skåne, and in the northern regions of the country traditionally dominated by the Social Democrats.
It overtook Sweden’s former farmer’s party, Centre, as the most popular party among agricultural workers, a trend that is likely to be seen Hörby, which is at the centre of some of Sweden’s best agricultural land.
But as in Trump’s America, the party’s success has divided communities, with Hörby no exception.
“It’s completely crazy that so many people here vote for them,” complains Johan Tinné, co-owner of the central Café Innegarden, who puts the party’s growth down to gang shootings in Sweden’s big cities rather than the performance of Bladh in Zito and her team.
When asked if friends and family also vote for the party, he shakes his head. “The day they start voting for SD, I’ll end all my contact with them.”
Even supporters like Kerstin have misgivings: “There have been stories that haven’t been so nice, but they’ve ridden it out.”
First Stefan Borg, the party’s group leader, withdrew his candidacy for mayor after the activist magazine Expo revealed that he had been spreading pro-Russian propaganda, writing posts about “the last generation of Swedes” and “the great replacement”, and making homophobic statements on social media.Bladh in Zito then stepped in.
Both Borg and Bladh in Zito are strangely cosmopolitan figures for small-town Swedish politics, and both have a connection to Russia (albeit only a slight one in her case).
After retiring from his career as a fighter pilot, Borg spent years in Russia learning the language, and told The Local in 2018 he made his living as “a translator of Russian religious philosophy in the tradition of Dostoevsky”.
Bladh in Zito grew up in the town but spent her 20s and 30s working as a consultant and energy executive in Stockholm, Germany and Rome. According to her LinkedIn profile, she studied in 2000 at Saint Petersburg Electrotechnical University.
At the start of 2020, seven unions representing civil servants, teachers and other municipal workers raised the alarm after a mass departure of top civil servants, and reports of a bullying culture.
“It’s a very toxic environment,” Maria Westlund, chief health and safety representative for the Saco union told the Telegraph. “The working environment has been hostile: People don’t get information shared with them, they get left out of emails. People talk crap about them when they’re not there. They’re not included in meetings.”
Renaldo Tirone, leader of the local Social Democrats, accuses the mayor of “ruling by fear”.
But when the struggle was raging, Borg dismissed it in a Facebook post: ”What’s happening is an attempt by the Deep State, through the unions, to take back political power in Hörby.”
Bladh in Zito argues that it was a good thing that civil servants left the municipality if they were opposed to the structural reforms or didn’t want to enact the ruling parties’ plans.
“Some people said, ‘ok, I don’t want to work in the new organisation’ because they had lost a title, or maybe even lost some power. That’s fine. That’s understandable. That’s very normal. The other thing is that we had some civil servants at the beginning, who said, ‘we don’t want to work in a municipality, where the Sweden Democrats are the rulers. We don’t want to work there’.”
She claims, however, that over the four years as a whole, the churn among council civil servants has not been larger than at other comparable municipalities.
Then the civil servant in charge of the municipality’s social services had to resign after a naked swimming incident at a staff social event.
Most recently, this June, the Aftonbladet tabloid accused Bladh in Zito of paying Polish builders at least 2.5 million kronor in cash to avoid tax when renovating her historic house in the town centre. She claims her Italian ex-husband handled the payments.
She claims that her Italian ex-husband, who is conveniently nowhere to be found, was responsible for paying for the renovation, so she can’t say anything about how the builders were paid. But anyway, she claims, she is the victim of a biased left-wing media, with the journalist behind the story “as far left as you can go”.
“They do not want Sweden Democrats to have the power, and they’ve been trying for four years, even before I was elected, to kick us out,” she says. “They asked my former employers if I did something wrong, they’ve been pushing me politically for three and a half years, and now, because they couldn’t find anything in my professional or political life, they going after my private side.”
For Westlund, Bladh in Zito’s refusal to answer detailed questions about the renovation, like her refusal to work closely with unions, is a sign of a worrying, closed, secretive approach.
“They don’t answer the press, they don’t answer when other parties ask them things. They just keep everything quiet,” she says. “I feel like it’s not a democracy anymore.”
Bladh in Zito, on the other hand, thinks the party’s local gains have proven that it can rule responsibly.
“There will always be people who don’t like us, we can never change that,” she says. “But I hope they understand that we don’t bit, we are not neo-Nazis, we are not fascists, and we are not racists. We are a party which has reality-based political views.”
“We’ve done very well in all our four municipalities, and I hope that can give the Moderates the bravery to start cooperating with us at a national level.”
‘Women Dressing Women’: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s tribute to a century of great female designers | Culture
The Costume Institute’s fall exhibit at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) pays homage to female creation. Women Dressing Women is a statement of intent that starts with the exhibit’s very first panel. Women designers, artisans and artists have covered the female universe with their designs and different visions of women, always making them protagonists, sometimes turning them into objects but never passive subjects when it comes to clothing. Over 80 outfits from the Institute’s permanent collection are on display, and the exhibit covers the fashion industry chronologically, artistically and commercially. The pieces represent the fashion industry’s two main centers, Paris and New York, including names and labels that connect haute couture and street fashion, and the most refined traditions of the Old Continent, American avant-garde and utilitarianism.
The exhibition, which opens on Thursday and will remain on display through March 3, 2024, starts with a selection of black and white photographs, projected in a loop, showing the work of dressmakers, tailors and seamstresses at anonymous workshops between 1907 and 1962. There are also images of the first timid tests for a client and the first private fashion shows in salons at a time when designers didn’t have name recognition, let alone the planetary fame that they have acquired in recent decades (to say nothing of the attention they’ve received in recent years from celebrations like the great annual fashion exhibit at the Met and the museum’s fashion gala, the event of the spring).
This black and white tribute features the precursors of over 70 women designers, who bring dreams to life with their needles and thimbles. The exhibit traces the lineage of the last century’s most influential women-led fashion houses (although only a couple of them remain today, the House of Dior and the House of Chanel). It features the work of pioneers like Adèle Henriette Nigrin de Fortuny and her Venetian textiles; the exquisite Madeleine Vionnet; Spanish designer Ana de Pombo, one of the last at the French fashion house Paquin (1891-1956); and Elsa Schiaparelli, who led her own brand and was perhaps the first designer with name recognition. Indeed, the latter had an exhibition at the Met dedicated to her in 2012, in which she engaged in an imaginary dialogue with her famous compatriot, Miuccia Prada. Big names (Chanel, the aforementioned Miuccia Prada, Marchesa, Rodarte) do appear in the exhibit, but it highlights unknown women and those time has forgotten, as in the selection of ethereal creations from the first decades of the 20th century.
The figure of the designer known by name was forged in the workshops where seamstresses, milliners, apprentices and tailors toiled for decades. As an introductory panel accompanying a selection of anonymous photographs notes, “in the centers of French and European fashion, women’s right to dress other women was a slowly won privilege,” since men dominated the industry. It took a long time for female professionals to gain a foothold, something that happened with the deregulation of the guilds. In the United States, however, this vocation was seen as a natural, industrious extension of domestic responsibilities: after all, sewing was an inherently female occupation.
At the press preview of the exhibit on Monday, Max Hollein, the director of the Met, explained that fashion created by women has helped empower women, as well as the designers themselves. “This exhibition invites reflection on the vital contribution women have made to fashion from the early 20th century to the present by amplifying historically undervalued voices and celebrating the celebrity they have achieved. The garments on display exemplify the countless women whose contributions were, and continue to be, the lifeblood of the global fashion industry as we know it today.”
Andrew Bolton, the world’s most influential fashion curator, senior curator at the Costume Institute and the righthand man of Anna Wintour (the all-powerful fashion Vogue editor and architect of the Met fashion gala), also spoke at the press preview of the exhibit. He noted that “women have been central to the success of the Costume Institute since its inception. Its founders include several inspiring women; that’s why the Institute remains dedicated to celebrating women’s artistic, technical and social achievements. They are part of fashion history.”
For Mellissa Huber, associate curator at the Costume Institute, the fall exhibition offers an opportunity to “learn the crucial stories of groundbreaking women designers who played a pivotal role in the conception of fashion as we know it. Women’s contributions to fashion cannot be quantified, but our intention with this show is to celebrate the Costume Institute’s permanent collection, which represents the rich history of Western fashion.” As Hollein emphasized, fashion is a symbol of female power and emancipation but also the result of tremendous collective work. Historically, conceptually and commercially, fashion is also the triumph of social progress, a powerful vehicle for women’s social, financial and creative autonomy. As Ted Pick, the co-chairman of Morgan Stanley, a sponsor of the exhibit’s luxurious catalog, points out, “the milestone that three Parisian haute couture fashion houses—Chanel, Dior and Iris van Herpen—are run today by powerful women” cannot be overlooked.
“The common thread that connects different generations of professional women reveals how subsequent generations have built on and expanded the legacy of their predecessors. The exhibit reflects the intergenerational dialogue between these designers in historical perspective and the talented women who worked with them from a contemporary point of view,” explains Karen Van Godtsenhoven, a co-curator of the exhibition. Indeed, to cite just one example of these silent conversations between the pieces on display, there is the direct thread between Fortuny’s characteristic pleating and Comme des Garçons’ textile origami; the austere scenography makes the connection stand out and reveals the continuum mentioned by the experts who organized the show. There’s a similar connection between Vivienne Westwood’s conceptual punk and the groundbreaking dress with pieces of metal inserted in silk with which the house Vionnet reinterpreted the syntax of ancient Greek ceramic painting in 1924: tradition as modernity and vice versa, along with the eternal aspect of fashion and art.
Indeed, to see one example of this legacy, look at the heads of the mannequins wearing the dresses in the pioneers’ room (the first room in the exhibit): they are topped with the enduring forms of classical Greek columns.
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Rich, Influential And Poorly Dressed: Powerful Men Have A New Uniform
One of the best memes of this year is undoubtedly the photo of Justin Bieber turned into a caricature of himself, wearing yellow Crocs and tracksuit bottoms combined with a sweatshirt and a pink Nahmias cap. And next to him is his wife, Hailey Bieber, looking flawless in an impeccable red strapless Ermanno Scervino mini dress.
In the image, Justin Bieber is the personification of the scumbro trend, defined by Vanity Fair columnist Kenzie Bryant, who put together the words “scum” and “bro.” This trend defines the aesthetics of celebrities such as Pete Davidson, Tom Holland and Machine Gun Kelly. What defines this hectic style is an absolute lack of aesthetic coherence; they want us to know that they walked out of their houses wearing the first thing they saw in their closets. What is often striking (and incomprehensible) is that scumbros usually have a partner (like Hailey Bieber) who looks exactly the opposite; their outfits are neat, stylish.
“The strategy, in the end, is that celebrity couples dress alike, something that is accentuated when there are brands involved,” Leticia García, chief fashion editor of the fashion magazine SModa, says. “Everything is marketing, and the construction of the celebrity image is nothing more than advertising. The next step is the construction of the image of the couple, something that seems to me to be a way of stripping people of [their] self-identity.”
Looking disheveled on purpose
Going out looking messy and untidy — compared to one’s partner — is a strategy to attract attention, according to Pedro Mansilla, a sociologist, journalist and fashion critic. This is particularly true when we talk about celebrity couples, Mansilla adds. Famous men tend to do it when they are dating “women who have achieved notoriety on their own merits.”
Mansilla points out that this happens primarily in heterosexual couples and adds that it could be due to the so-called bad boy attraction, with his characteristic sins: carelessness, unpunctuality, laziness, etc. There is nothing more attractive than a guy who — due to his status, and thus, power — can dress whichever way he wants, says Mansilla. In other words, according to this new trend (very ad hoc with the Silicon Valley power players who went from nerds to billionaires at the beginning of this century), for a powerful man, nothing is more exciting and vindicating than to dress as if he were powerless.
This style is, in fact, the result of an aesthetic decision. Actor Adam Sandler considers himself, perhaps, the last great purist of the scumbro style, someone who dresses this way out of sheer carelessness. When asked in an interview how he would define his aesthetic, he replied: “A man who opened a suitcase and threw something on.” The difference between Sandler and others — such as Justin Bieber or Pete Davidson — is that he is probably the only one who dresses this way in the most natural way possible. Nowadays, scumbros wear streetstyle brands such as Palace and Supreme, as well as clothing from big brands l Gucci, Versace, and Prada. Their style is more about being perfectly imperfect.
Proof that whoever dresses like this does not do it out of laziness, but with absolute intention, is that when a user wrote on X (formerly Twitter) that Diplo was starting to “look like a dude that sells you bad weed on the Venice boardwalk,” the musician posted a screenshot of the tweet on his Instagram profile along with the caption “Goals achieved.” Even Esquire magazine published an article in which it pointed out that celebrities dress “like teenage weed dealers.”
Brands like Balenciaga and Acne Studio have seized on this supposedly chaotic aesthetic. And, as Kyle Dinkjian — who runs the Instagram account JonahFits, which analyzes Jonah Hill’s looks — explained to The Wall Street Journal, this style inspires men who “don’t look like movie stars to get into their own fashion and make it their own.”
“People are tired of the ‘everything goes’” mentality, Pedro Mansilla counters. “Uglysm still dominates, but the sartorial order will prevail at some point. The anti-establishment style is showing signs of fatigue. The dandy is starting to come out of the closet,” he adds.
A new type of narcissist
But do these men really not care about their style at all? “When someone claims that fashion is banal and superfluous, it’s a sure sign that they are a person who thinks they are above the rest,” says García. “People dress not only as a way of expressing themselves, but also out of respect for others.” We must differentiate here, however, between two types of scumbros. One of them is Justin Bieber, who knows about fashion, has been nourished by it and has collaborated, in fact, with big brands such as Calvin Klein. His scumbro style is actually worth thousands of dollars. On the opposite side of the spectrum is something like Adam Sandler, who many Internet users defend for being someone who dresses according to his comfort and his own style. He is true to himself. Authentic.
“A trained eye should always distinguish those who don’t care how they are dressed from those who do care, but pretend they don’t,” Mansilla explains. “These are the most interesting because, in principle, they set the upward trend. We have become so bored with seeing the integrated that we wish to see the apocalyptic, to use Umberto Eco’s terminology.”
It seems that stylistic laziness is less and less about laziness and more and more about strategy, especially when a closer look at their closets reveals that every garment and accessory is worth hundreds or thousands of dollars. If silent luxury has taught us that even the most basic white T-shirt can be a sign of social status, styles like scumbro are not precisely symptoms of passivity, but of careful decisions. Today’s narcissist has mutated: he is no longer just Christian Bale in American Psycho, he has also been spotted wearing sweatpants, a Hawaiian shirt and Crocs.
How News Helicopters Ushered A Fresh Television Genre In Los Angeles
By Darren Wilson
Fifteen minutes of fame was not enough for Johnny Anchondo. Local television devoted some 100 minutes of live coverage to this repeat offender, following one of the wildest chases Los Angeles has seen in recent years. In that time, the 33-year-old criminal ran a stop sign and caused an immense mobilization of the police as he stole two pickup trucks, rammed into dozens of vehicles at high speed and escaped from at least 15 patrol cars that were hot on his trail for some 12 miles. All of this was recorded by the all-seeing eye in the sky, news helicopters.
“Chases are the best. They are dynamic, they move fast. Things can change in an instant. Sometimes they seem endless from up there,” says Stu Mundel, one of the journalists who have been following events on the city streets from a helicopter for decades. “And I say this from the bottom of my heart, it’s genuine, but I always wish things would end well,” he adds.
In Los Angeles, chases are now a television genre in their own right. Journalists like Mundel fly for hours over a gigantic urban sprawl of 88 cities with 11 million people. From way up high, they report on traffic, crashes, shootings and fires in the metropolitan area. But few events arouse the audience’s interest as much as the chases through the city’s vast thoroughfares. The police chase starring Anchondo attests to that fact; the video has over 28 million views on YouTube.
The genre was born in this city. The idea came to John Silva, an engineer for a local television station, while he was driving his car on a freeway near Hollywood. “How can we beat the competition?” he wondered. The answer came to him behind the wheel. “If we could build a mobile news unit in a helicopter, we could beat them in arriving to the scene, avoiding traffic and getting all the stories before the competition,” Silva told the Television Academy in a 2002 interview.
In July 1958, a Bell 47G-2 helicopter made the first test trip for the KTLA network, becoming the first of its kind anywhere in the world. By September of that year, Silva’s creation, known as the Telecopter, already had a special segment on the channel’s news program. Before long, every major television network had one. Silva died in 2012, but his invention transformed television forever.
The chase genre’s crowning moment came in June 1994, when the Los Angeles police chase of a white Ford Bronco was broadcast live on television. In the back of the vehicle was O.J. Simpson, the former football star, whom the authorities had named the prime suspect in the murder of his ex-wife and her friend. Bob Tur (now known as Zoey Tur after a sex change operation), the pilot of a CBS helicopter, located the van on the 405 freeway being followed by dozens of patrol cars. Within minutes, there were so many helicopters following the convoy that Tur found the scene worthy of Apocalypse Now. The audience was such that TV stations interrupted the broadcast of Game 5 of the NBA Finals to follow the chase, which lasted two hours.
“It’s a very interesting thing. It may sound morbid, but it’s not. People follow [police chases] because they are like a movie, we want to know how it will end and how the story unfolds: will good triumph over evil? Or will this person manage to escape? We journalists are objective, but the adrenaline and excitement is genuine,” says Mundel. In his years of experience, he has seen how technology has evolved. In the 1990s, people used a paper map as a guide. Today, viewers can see a map superimposed on the images Mundel captures with his camera.
Four out of 10 chases are initiated after a vehicle is stolen. The second most common reason for them are hit-and-runs by drivers who are drunk or under the influence of drugs. According to the Los Angeles Police Department, most fugitives are hiding a more serious crime: homicide, rape or violent robbery. In 1998, only four out of the 350-plus drivers arrested after a chase were let off with only a traffic ticket; five hundred chases were recorded that year.
A growing phenomenon
In 2022, 971 chases were recorded. On average, chases last about 5.34 minutes and cover about five miles, although the vast majority (72%) end within five minutes and do not travel more than two miles. 35% of documented chases ended in crashes with injuries or fatalities in 2022. That figure represents a slight decrease from 990 in 2021. In 2019, there were fewer: 651 chases and 260 crashes.
A few decades ago, authorities tried to reassure Angelenos by claiming that a person had a one in four million chance of accidentally being killed in a police chase of a criminal. “There’s a better chance of being struck by lightning,” the police department estimated. But things have changed. An official report presented in April indicates that, over the past five years, 25% of chases have left people dead or injured. That almost always includes the suspect, but the number of innocent people who have been hurt has also increased.
Although there is plenty of material on the street, uncertain times for local journalism have limited coverage. Univision and Telemundo have dispensed with their helicopters in Los Angeles. Fox and CBS have joined forces and are using one aircraft instead of two. For the time being, KTLA, which invented the genre, remains committed to having a helicopter in the air.
The days may be numbered for these televised events. Some metro police departments have asked their officers to stop chasing criminals at high speed for the safety of the public. Instead, they have employed technology with high-definition cameras and drones to chase criminals, as has happened in cities like Dallas, Philadelphia and Phoenix.
The Los Angeles police have said that they are studying the implementation of the Star Chase system in some of their vehicles. Star Chase features a launcher that triggers a GPS transmitter, tagging a fleeing vehicle and allowing the authorities to track the position of the person who has escaped in real time. Another measure under consideration is the use of an industrial-strength nylon net that traps the rear axle of the fleeing car. All of this could yield dramatic footage for the eye in the sky.
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