Friday, 04 September 2015

U.S. Communities Targeted for “Blue Zone” Social Engineering

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In government schools across America in communities being targeted to become “Blue Zones,” children may soon be chanting “Hara Hachi Bu” before eating their lunch — at least between the data-mining and intrusive scoring to determine “progress” in their physical, mental, and spiritual “well being.” The Japanese phrase, associated with the Eastern religion of Confucianism, translates roughly to “eat until you are 80 percent full.” Parents, meanwhile, will receive wide-ranging instructions covering everything from the food they eat and the “tribe” they associate with to the location in their home designated for sexual activity and even the size of their dinner plates. Indeed, the whole community will face massive social engineering — for its own good, of course.  

All of it is taking place under the guise of creating “healthy communities” through a public-private partnership between governments, health insurance giants, and businesses to create “Blue Zones.” Reading the slick marketing materials produced by the “Blue Zones Project,” which styles itself “a community well-being improvement initiative designed to make healthy choices easier through permanent changes to environment, policy, and social networks,” the whole plot can almost appear rather harmless at first glance. After all, what could be wrong with “voluntary” initiatives and “choices” to allegedly promote health, happiness, and well-being? Plus, the plan even urges you to drink wine, every single day!

Indeed, even the name “Blue Zone” is a reference to communities around the world where people have been found to live longer, healthier lives. The term was popularized by author and National Geographic Fellow Dan Buettner, who studied the people in those communities to try to figure out what made them live longer than others. But what, exactly, is the Blue Zones Project? And what does it entail for an American community to become a Blue Zone? At least one element is clear: The sweeping program aims to involve everyone — from your boss to your sheriff to your children — and to “nudge” individuals into desired behaviors and values.   

“The Blue Zones Project is a systems approach in which citizens, schools, employers, restaurants, grocery stores and community leaders collaborate on policies and programs that move the community towards better health and well-being,” it says on the outfit's website. “We implement long-term, evidence-backed policies and interventions that optimize environments within communities, nudging people towards healthier choices throughout their day.” All of the “progress” and “nudging” will be measured using surveys with the “Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.”

Cities from Minnesota, Hawaii, and California to Florida, Oregon, Texas, and Iowa are in the Blue Zones Project's cross-hairs. But despite all of the talk about “choices” and the project being “voluntary,” the role of government in all of it is hardly a secret. “Municipal governments play a key role in Blue Zones Project by shaping policies and building infrastructure in a way that supports active living and healthier lifestyles,” a “Blue Zones Project Blueprint” for Southwest Florida declares.

Critics and parents in target communities, though, are expressing serious concerns about the developments, with the word “Orwellian” tossed out by more than a few opponents of the agenda. The scheming has also been attacked for parallels with a variety of other deeply controversial projects such as the Obama administration's “full-service community schools” that  aim to essentially replace parents, and the United Nations' infamous “sustainable development” plot known as UN Agenda 21. A video of young school children singing the praises of the “Blue Zone Project” at school has also sparked alarm.

Some opponents of the agenda, concerned about the secrecy and the comprehensiveness of the social engineering — especially as it relates to children and government schools — are now working to stop it with legal challenges. In Collier County, Florida, for example, one of the healthiest areas in America and also a target for becoming a “Blue Zone,” a lawsuit is currently underway aiming to quash the scheme based on a number of problematic elements associated with the program and the process used to foist it on the communities there.   

After learning of the plan, local parent and attorney Steven Bracci filed a lawsuit against Superintendent of the Collier County School District Kamela Patton over her involvement. In the lawsuit, Bracci argues that the Blue Zone Steering Committee, which she serves on, held meetings that were not noticed by or open to the general public at which policies and programs for the school district were decided. He also says that Patton has already started implementing Blue Zone plans relating to schools, and that the court needs to stop it.  

“What better way for the government to accomplish our loss of liberty than to make it look like it is a 'grassroots' community wellness movement?” asked Bracci in a statement provided to The New American. “Blue Zones leader Allen Weiss calls these efforts 'grassroots,' but there is nothing 'grassroots' about this. It is being implemented by force, utilizing our government officials and self-proclaimed leaders who created a 'blueprint' outside of the sunshine, signed their names to it, and thereby seemingly pledged their efforts to deliver various agencies and organizations over to the 'greater collective good' of the Blue Zone special interest project.”

What is happening in Collier County offers some warnings to other communities targeted by the Blue Zones Project, and it provides some insight into what the scheme involves. Consider the “Blue Zone Steering Committee” for the county. It includes, among others, the school district chief, the head of the local Chamber of Commerce, the local NAACP chief, the county sheriff, various mayors, city and county commissioners, local media executives, bureaucrats, business leaders, and other self-styled “community leaders.” In other words, government, business, and the non-profit sector will all be working together to “nudge” individuals into desired behaviors.  

Even the use of the word “nudge” has raised alarm bells among critics — partly because of its association with Obama's former “Regulatory Czar” Cass Sunstein, the Big Government extremist who co-authored Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness. The infamous figure, who styles himself a “legal scholar” and now teaches law at Harvard, came under intense fire for a variety of fringe ideas; pushing the notion that animals should have legal standing in the courts, for example. He also advocated a plan to have taxpayer-funded shills engage in “cognitive infiltration” of groups authorities disagree with, and even proposed a government “ban” on “conspiracy theorizing.”

In 2013, the Obama administration's propensity for “nudging” Americans came under fire nationwide when a White House plot to create a “Behavioral Insights Team” for the express purpose of manipulating the public made headlines. According to an official document about the scheme aimed at recruiting personnel, the controversial team was supposed to “nudge” the U.S. population to think and behave in ways that Obama officials deem best on “sustainability,” health, education, and more. Similar schemes to manipulate the public by U.K. authorities also drew criticism, as did a plot by the UN and Obama policy architect John Podesta to create a "global partnership" that would "encourage everyone to alter their worldview, profoundly and dramatically.” Under the “Blue Zones Project,” the government-backed nudging will cover almost every area of life, including religion.    

Consider a series of Blue Zone “check lists” for citizens produced by the initiative. The “Bedroom Checklist,” for example, under “direction,” tells participants to “start making changes to your bedroom environment based on the recommendations given.” Those recommendations cover everything from your mattress and the “optimal” thermostat temperature to what you may have or not have in your bedroom — no phones, screens, or digital alarm clocks, for instance. “Use the bedroom only for sleep and sex,” the checklist adds. Talk about government in the bedroom!

A separate “Home Checklist,” meanwhile, urges Blue Zones targets to weigh themselves daily, buy a dog, get rid of all TVs except one, ditch the TV remote, replace power tools with hand tools, buy a bike, use a helmet, disconnect the garage door opener, sit on the floor instead of furniture, and much more. All of that is supposed to help people burn more calories and become healthier.

The Blue Zones “Kitchen Checklist” calls for portioning all snack foods into small bags, keeping fruits and veggies at the top of the refrigerator, replacing “oversized plates with smaller 10-inch plates,” replacing “big gulp drinking glasses with narrow, cylinder shaped glasses,” and hiding and labeling “junk food” to avoid eating it. The list also says you should “avoid eating family style by leaving the serving dishes on the counter,” use hand-operated kitchen appliances rather than electric ones, and much more. All of those instructions are apparently supposed to help people eat less, and eat healthier.

Beyond the checklists dictating just about everything in and around your home, another Blue Zones document, the “Tribe Check Up,” helps you pick the “Right Tribe” to associate with based on lifestyles deemed healthy by the Blue Zone experts. After calculating the number of “points” you have earned based on your friends' healthy habits, the document calls on Blue Zone participants to “nurture” the healthy friends and “spend as much time as you can with them.” “You should still socialize with them,” it says about the moderately healthy friends.

The not-so-healthy friends, though, should get the cold shoulder if possible, including friends who are obese or suffer from depression. “These people almost certainly are dragging your health behaviors down,” it says. “If these aren’t friends to whom you’re committed or need your help, you might want to consider expanding your social network.” In other words, Big Brother and his private-sector cronies want to help pick your “tribe” for you, too. When applied to the school setting, the prospects become even more bizarre, with some parents wondering whether children will be divided into “tribes” based on, among other criteria, their weight, eating habits, and health.         

“The name is soothing, much like green zones, but the goal is pure collectivism,” wrote liberty-minded pundit Dr. Rich Sweir, a veteran, education expert, and entrepreneur. “'Help make healthy choices' is code for control of individual behaviors.... The Blue Zone Project is the ideal that each man exists only by the permission of the group and for the sake of the group and the group alone.” In other words, collectivism, Sweir said.

The lawsuit in Collier County aims to stop it all in its tracks. Because Florida law puts school boards in charge of education-related policies and programs, Bracci's suit argues that if proper procedures had been followed, parents and the general public would have had an opportunity to participate. “Instead, the Superintendent has created and planned to implement these Blue Zone Project programs ... without ever seeking the consent or official action of the School Board.” Even if the superintendent were to seek official approval from the board at this point, it will merely be in an "after-the-fact review capacity" months after the Blue Zone Steering Committee developed and decided on the policies.

Under the Florida Constitution and the state's “sunshine” laws, all meetings by elected officials where public business is discussed or official acts are taken must be open to the public. The lawsuit argues that the Blue Zone Steering Committee and the superintendent tried to circumvent the process, and therefore, that all of its decisions, including the Blue Zone Project Blueprint for the area, cannot be considered binding on students or employees within the school district. More than a few critics in the county have also complained about the secret process and what officials may be trying to hide by keeping the public out of the loop.  

The lawsuit goes on to argue that the community and its children are being subjected to an “unproven 'social science experiment' about which the School Board knows very little.” It also argues that there are a number of unanswered questions that must be publicly addressed. Among them: Who is behind the project? Who is funding it? What relationship does it have to any federal, state, or local government program; or political ideology? What financial impact will it have? In what ways will children be “monitored” and “tested” for “social advancement” and “well-being,” as called for in Blue Zones literature? What are the rights of parents as far as opting their children out? What safeguards are in place to ensure that Blue Zone-promoted “voluntary choices” do not become mandates?  

The local newspaper, published by a Blue Zone Steering Committee member, has tried to downplay the suit, even quoting “experts” who claimed it was a “stretch.” But the court is apparently taking it seriously, ordering the parties involved into mediation, and even setting a hearing on the motion for a temporary injunction set for early October if the dispute is not resolved before then. Whether or not the suit succeeds, though, concerns about the shadowy “Blue Zones Project” and its government-aided social-engineering agenda will continue to grow.      

Alex Newman is a correspondent for The New American, covering economics, education, politics, and more. Follow him on Twitter @ALEXNEWMAN_JOU. He can be reached at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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