Sunday, 29 April 2012

What's Happening in Auckland?


'I've nothing to fear' - John Banks

New Zealand Labour Party leader David Shearer says a television interview with Act's John Banks this morning only created more doubt about the discloser of anonymous donations in the Banks' mayoral campaign.
Mr Banks is alleged to have asked internet Tycoon Kim Dotcom to split a mayoral campaign donation into two parts of $25,000 so it could remain anonymous.
The allegations come after police were asked to investigate Mr Banks' listing of a $15,000 donation from SkyCity as anonymous.
Mr Banks denied any wrongdoing when he appeared on TVNZ's Q + A programme this morning and called the allegations a "sideshow".
"I can tell you when I signed my declaration for the mayoralty, I signed it in good faith in the knowledge it was true and correct. I have nothing to fear and nothing to hide and I welcome the inquiry," he said.
Mr Banks did not directly answer interviewer Paul Holmes' repeated questions about whether or not he knew Dotcom had donated the $50,000.
"I have nothing to hide and nothing to fear. It will all come out in the wash," he said.
Mr Shearer was not satisfied by this answer and reiterated his call for Mr Banks to resign as a minister.
"Alleged breaches to electoral law and the anonymity of political donations are serious, and yet John Banks seemed indignant to the need to answer even the most basic line of questioning on the donations he received from SkyCity and Kim Dotcom.
"They were simple questions. Fluffing answers about the number of donations he received is unnecessary and over-complicates the allegations.
"I think we can all agree that Kim Dotcom is a pretty memorable guy, and $50,000 is a cash injection even the most affluent campaigner would remember."
A spokeswoman for the prime minister said Mr Banks had assured him he had complied with local body electoral law.
Peter’s Comment
In a radio interview lone Act MP and Minister, John Banks, repeatedly said he couldn’t remember when questioned about contributions to his failed mayoral campaign. I was so intrigued with the Banks version of events that I have decided to invite him to write a memoir. I’m so enthusiastic about the prospects for a book that I have already designed a cover for it. In fact, really, I’ve designed the entire book. It should be a best seller.




 


 


Saturday, 28 April 2012

What's Happening in Florida?


A SECRET WEED SMOKER'S EMAIL

 Another crazy email came my way today and I immediately checked out its claims. The email is not all that it seems and likewise for Florida’s Governor Rick Scott and the state that he is turning into a banana republic. Here is the email:

YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  
Hope it starts here!!!!  

Hooray for Florida!

I-95 and I-75 will be jammed for the next month or so with druggies and deadbeats heading North out of Florida, because this is the first state in the union to require drug testing to receive welfare!

Hooray for Florida!  In signing the new law, Republican Gov. Rick Scott said, "If Floridians want welfare, they better make sure they are drug-free".

Applicants must pay for the drug test, but are reimbursed if they test drug-free.

Applicants who test positive for illicit substances won't be eligible for the funds for a year, or until they undergo treatment.

Those who fail a second time will be banned from receiving funds for three years! 

Naturally, a few people are crying this is unconstitutional.
How is this unconstitutional? It's a legal requirement that every person applying for a JOB has to pass drug tests in order to get the JOB, why not those who receive welfare?

Forward this if you agree!

Let's get welfare back to the ones who NEED it, not to those who WON'T get a JOB.

I AGREE, DO YOU?

No Savings Are Found From Welfare Drug Tests


By LIZETTE ALVAREZ

Published: April 17, 2012, NY Times
MIAMI — Ushered in amid promises that it would save taxpayers money and deter drug users, a Florida law requiring drug tests for people who seek welfare benefits resulted in no direct savings, snared few drug users and had no effect on the number of applications, according to recently released state data.

“Many states are considering following Florida’s example, and the new data from the state shows they shouldn’t,” said Derek Newton, communications director for theAmerican Civil Liberties Union of Florida, which sued the state last year to stop the testing and recently obtained the documents. “Not only is it unconstitutional and an invasion of privacy, but it doesn’t save money, as was proposed.”
This week, Georgia instituted a nearly identical law, with supporters saying it would foster greater personal responsibility and save money. As in Florida, the law is expected to draw a legal challenge. The Southern Center for Human Rights, based in Atlanta, said it expected to file a lawsuit once the law takes effect in the next several months. A number of other states are considering similar bills.
The Florida civil liberties group sued the state last year, arguing that the law constituted an “unreasonable search” by the government, a violation of the Fourth Amendment. In issuing a temporary injunction in October, Judge Mary S. Scriven of Federal District Court scolded lawmakers and said the law “appears likely to be deemed a constitutional infringement.”
From July through October in Florida — the four months when testing took place before Judge Scriven’s order — 2.6 percent of the state’s cash assistance applicants failed the drug test, or 108 of 4,086, according to the figures from the state obtained by the group. The most common reason was marijuana use. An additional 40 people canceled the tests without taking them.
Because the Florida law requires that applicants who pass the test be reimbursed for the cost, an average of $30, the cost to the state was $118,140. This is more than would have been paid out in benefits to the people who failed the test, Mr. Newton said.
As a result, the testing cost the government an extra $45,780, he said.
And the testing did not have the effect some predicted. An internal document about Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, caseloads stated that the drug testing policy, at least from July through September, did not lead to fewer cases.
“We saw no dampening effect on the caseload,” the document said.
But supporters of the law said four months of numbers did little to discredit an effort they said was based on common sense. Drug users, no matter their numbers, should not be allowed to use taxpayer money, they said.
“We had to stop allowing tax dollars for anybody to buy drugs with,” said State Representative Jimmie T. Smith, a Republican who sponsored the bill last year. Taxpayer savings also come in deterring those drug users who would otherwise apply for cash assistance but now think twice because of the law, some argued.
Chris Cinquemani, the vice president of the Foundation for Government Accountability, a Florida-based public policy group that advocates drug testing and recently made a presentation in Georgia, said more than saving money was at stake.
“The drug testing law was really meant to make sure that kids were protected,” he said, “that our money wasn’t going to addicts, that taxpayer generosity was being used on diapers and Wheaties and food and clothing.”
Florida’s governor, Rick Scott, who supported the measure last year, agreed.
“Governor Scott maintains his position that TANF dollars must be spent on TANF’s purposes — protecting children and getting people back to work,” said Jackie Schutz, the governor’s deputy press secretary.
Last month, Mr. Scott signed into law another drug testing measure, this one permitting state agencies to randomly test up to 10 percent of their employees. The tests can be conducted every 90 days and agencies can fire or discipline employees if they test positive for drugs.
The law, which the civil liberties group said it believes is unconstitutional, takes effect in July. The courts have largely upheld drug testing for workers with public safety jobs.

State Worker Drug Tests Struck Down in Florida
Published: April 26, 2012
MIAMI — A federal court in Miami ruled Thursday that Gov. Rick Scott’s order to randomly test a majority of state employees for drugs is unconstitutional, saying there is not a compelling enough reason to do so.
In her ruling, Federal District Judge Ursula Ungaro said the governor’s policy constituted an unreasonable search and seizure and must be stopped. Last March, Mr. Scott, a former health care executive, ordered random drug testing for about 80,000 state employees who work for the 15 agencies that report to him. He suspended the testing in June because of the lawsuit.
Judge Ungaro said Mr. Scott had overreached in his executive order because there was no evidence of a large-scale problem and no urgent reason to mandate drug tests.
The governor’s drug testing requirement “does not identify a concrete danger that must be addressed by suspicionless drug-testing of state employees,” Judge Ungaro wrote. “And the governor shows no evidence of a drug-use problem at the covered agencies.”
Mr. Scott objected to the ruling on Thursday. Testing workers for drugs, he said, is reasonable and practical.
“As I have repeatedly explained, I believe that drug testing state employees is a common-sense means of ensuring a safe, efficient and productive work force,” he said in a statement. “That is why so many private employers drug test, and why the public and Florida’s taxpayers overwhelmingly support this policy. I respectfully disagree with the court’s ruling and will pursue the case on appeal.”
Despite the legal challenge over the governor’s 2011 executive order, the Florida Legislature took up the same policy this year and passed a bill that allows all state workers to undergo random drug testing but does not make it a requirement. It was signed into law last month by Mr. Scott and takes effect in July. The ruling does not affect the new law, which is expected to draw a separate lawsuit.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida joined an employees’ union in a lawsuit last year challenging the governor’s executive order. The groups asserted that the order violated the law by requiring drug testing of state workers who do not hold public safety jobs or are not suspected of wrongdoing.
“The governor can’t order the state to search people’s bodily fluids for no reason,” said Howard Simon, the executive director of the A.C.L.U. of Florida.
The executive order last year also required that applicants for jobs at the agencies undergo random drug testing. The ruling on Thursday did not extend to the job applicants. Mr. Simon said that if the state moved forward with those tests, it would be inviting another lawsuit on the issue.
Mr. Scott also faces a separate legal challenge over a 2011 law that requires Florida’s welfare recipients to undergo drug tests when they apply for benefits. The drug testing was temporarily halted last year by a judge while the case is being considered. Georgia passed a similar law this month.
Mr. Simon said the ruling raised the possibility that requiring welfare applicants to take drug tests might also be ruled unconstitutional. A similar law was struck down in Michigan.

Thursday, 26 April 2012


For the Pleasure of Great Reading

Books by Peter Blakeborough
Fiction
Nathaniel’s Bloodline  (Historical fiction)                                  NZ$34.95
Murder at Wairere (Historical fiction)                                        NZ$34.95
A Twist of Fate (Contemporary fiction)                                      NZ$34.95
The Life and Times of Freddie Fuddpucker (Kiwi humour)      NZ$19.95

Non-fiction
The Coinage of New Zealand, 1840-1967 
Out of print. This book was just 75 cents, pre inflation
Highway America – the adventures of a Kiwi truck driver           NZ$36.95
The New Zealand Tour Commentary (For tour guides)             NZ$32.00

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Ebook versions are available from Smashwords at unbelievably low prices
Click on the link above to download your books now

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 PO Box 110, Ngatea, New Zealand.

ONE NATION


Passport-free travel proposed for New Zealand-Australia
April 24, 2012, 12:04 pmNewstalk ZB
Tourism bodies on both sides of the ditch (the Tasman Sea) are keen to make trans-Tasman travel easier.
Australia's Tourism and Transport Forum is proposing a passport free zone for travel between the two countries, possibly slashing airfares by up to 30 percent.
Tourism New Zealand chief executive Kevin Bowler welcomes the news saying it's highly likely to boost tourism to this country.
"Anything that makes international travel easier and more convenient for visitors is a good thing so if this was to happen then that would probably be a positive for travel between our two countries."

Peter’s Comment

Slowly but surely we are becoming one nation, but hopefully not the kind of One Nation that was proposed by Pauline Hanson. Politicians on both sides of the Tasman Sea have been working quietly toward unification for at least 40 years.

It has been a slow road for reluctant Kiwis who are so conservative that they seem to prefer to unstick the jalopy wheels with a tiny patch of gravel so that they can move forward a metre at a time before laying another patch of gravel in the mud.

When colonialism first came to Australasia the Colony of New South Wales included the eastern half of the Australian continent and the islands to the east including Lord Howe Island, Norfolk Island and New Zealand, and Tasmania to the south. Later, New Zealand became a separate colony equal in status to New South Wales. Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland also separated from New South Wales while South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory were never part of, and were established independently of, New South Wales.

Unification of the colonies, including New Zealand, was first proposed in the 1880s and New Zealand was a starter until Premier Richard Seddon had big ideas of his own. He wanted New Zealand to be the dominant state in a Pacific federation and he subsequently became known as King Dick. When he died in 1906 he died without a kingdom and Kiwis lived on without a place in the Australian Federation and, because of size, a standard of living perpetually inferior to the larger united neighbour.

There are many bonds that exist between Kiwis and their trans-Tasman cousins. Ethnicity and family ties are the most obvious but we also share similar laws and lifestyles. Many national associations and governmental bodies cover both countries. We have the ANZAC bond. We have free trade and a common labour market and it should only be another short patch of gravel on mud to get us to one citizenship, one currency, one foreign policy and one military force.

The chief differences between our two countries are climate and geography and that, to my mind, is further reason for unification. The two would better be able to compliment each others strengths and weaknesses. Can you imagine the economic effect that the Canterbury earthquakes would have had if the clock was turned back to when the South Island was a separate entity?  Can you imagine the economic effect of the Queensland floods if they had happened when Queensland was a separate colony?

There is strength in unity. Forget the protests about globalisation and big being bad. Australia is better off than New Zealand because it is bigger. Try telling Hawaiians that they would be better off out of the United States.

The next move should be a start to negotiating the terms of federation. The chief outstanding issue would be New Zealand’s representation in the Senate and House of Representatives in Canberra. As an Australian (or Anzac) State New Zealand could retain its own parliament and ministries for police, education, local government, agriculture, fisheries, labour, etc. And Kiwis would still be New Zealanders but they would be Australians too.

The goal to catch Australia economically within 25 years is near enough to impossible and the best way out of the economic mud and onto solid bitumen is for New Zealand to join Australia.






Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Doom and Gloom and Progress


Things to Fear in the Future

Below is yet another email of doom and gloom which I have reproduced unedited.
Nine Things That Will Disappear In Our Lifetimes


Whether these changes are good or bad depends in part on how we adapt to them. But, ready or not, here they come.

1. The Post Office
Get ready to imagine a world without the post office. They are so deeply in financial trouble that there is probably no way to sustain it the long term. Email, Fastway, Fed Ex, and UPS have just about wiped out the minimum revenue needed to keep the post office alive. Most of your mail every day is junk mail and bills.

2.
The Cheque
Britain is already laying the groundwork to do away with cheques by 2018. It costs the financial system billions of dollars a year to process cheques. Plastic cards and online transactions will lead to the eventual demise of the cheque. This plays right into the death of the post office. If you never paid your bills by mail and never received them by mail, the post office would absolutely go out of business.

3.
The Newspaper
The younger generation simply doesn't read the newspaper. They certainly don't subscribe to a daily delivered print edition. That may go the way of deliveries from the milkman, butcher, baker and fruit and veg man. As for reading the paper online, get ready to pay for it. The rise in mobile Internet devices and e-readers has caused all the newspaper and magazine publishers to form an alliance. They have met with Apple, Amazon, and the major cell phone companies to develop a model for paid subscription services.

4.
The Book
You say you will never give up the physical book that you hold in your hand and turn the literal pages. Many said the same thing about downloading music from iTunes because they wanted hard copy CDs. When they discovered they get albums for half the price without ever leaving home to get the latest music they changed their minds. The same thing will happen with books. You can browse a bookstore online and even read a preview chapter before you buy. And the price is less than half that of a real book. Just think of the convenience! Once you start flicking your fingers on the screen instead of the book, you find that you are lost in the story, can't wait to see what happens next, and you forget that you're holding a gadget instead of a book.

5.
The Land Line Telephone
Unless you have a large family and make a lot of local calls, you don't need it anymore. Most people keep it simply because they've always had it. But you are paying double charges for that extra service. All the cell phone companies will let you call customers using the same cell provider for no charge against your minutes

6.
Music
This is one of the saddest parts of the change story. The music industry is dying a slow death. Not just because of illegal downloading. It's the lack of innovative new music being given a chance to get to the people who would like to hear it. Greed and corruption is the problem. The record labels and the radio conglomerates are simply self-destructing. Over 40% of the music purchased today is "catalogue items," meaning traditional music that the public is familiar with. Older established artists. This is also true on the live concert circuit. To explore this fascinating and disturbing topic further, check out the book, "Appetite for Self-Destruction" by Steve Knopper, and the video documentary, "Before the Music Dies."

7.
Television
Revenues to the networks are down dramatically. Not just because of the economy. Many people are watching TV and movies streamed from their computers. And they're playing games and doing lots of other things that take up the time that used to be spent watching TV. Prime time shows have degenerated down to lower than the lowest common denominator. Cable rates are skyrocketing and commercials run about every 4 minutes and 30 seconds. It's time for the cable companies to be put out of our misery. People will choose what they want to watch online and through Netflix.

8.
The "Things" That You Own
Many of the very possessions that we used to own are still in our lives, but we may not actually own them in the future. They may simply reside in "the cloud." Today your computer has a hard drive and you store your pictures, music, movies, and documents. Your software is on a CD or DVD, and you can always re-install it if need be. But all of that is changing. Apple, Microsoft, and Google are all finishing up their latest "cloud services." That means that when you turn on a computer, the Internet will be built into the operating system. So, Windows, Google, and the Mac OS will be tied straight into the Internet. If you click an icon, it will open something in the Internet cloud. If you save something, it will be saved to the cloud. And you may pay a monthly subscription fee to the cloud provider. In this virtual world, you can access your music or your books, or your whatever from any laptop or handheld device. That's the good news. But, will you actually own any of this "stuff" or will it all be able to disappear at any moment in a big "Poof?" Will most of the things in our lives be disposable and whimsical? It makes you want to run to the cupboard and pull out that photo album, grab a book from the shelf, or open up a CD case and pull out the insert.

9.
Privacy
If there ever was a concept that we can look back on nostalgically, it would be privacy. That's gone. It's been gone for a long time anyway. There are cameras on the street, in most of the buildings, and even built into your computer and cell phone. But you can be sure that 24/7, "They" know who you are and where you are, right down to the GPS coordinates, and the Google Street View. If you buy something, your habit is put into a zillion profiles, and your ads will change to reflect those habits. "They" will try to get you to buy something else. Again and again.
All we will have left that can't be changed are "Memories".

Peter’s Comment
Do we really need to be so afraid of the future?
Let’s turn the clock back a little and we’ll see that people have always been sceptical of the future.
It started when it was rumoured that a person called an inventor was working on the development of a new device that would one day be used by almost everyone throughout the world. The device, it was said, would dominate our lives. It would be known as the wheel. People feared the arrival of the wheel.
Fast forward a few centuries. Oops. Fast forward belongs to the 1970s. I want to look at the 1870s. It was rumoured in the 1870s that in the future, wheels, instead of being drawn by horses, would be propelled by a new device that would come to dominate peoples’ lives, the internal combustion engine. People feared the arrival of the engine.
About the same time it was rumoured that in the future man would be able to fly through the air on artificial wings. Man would also be able to talk to his neighbours through a wire mounted on poles, have his stomach opened for surgery without dying from infection and write letters on a writing machine while receiving light from a special globe burning invisible energy. All of these things were feared more than war, plague or poverty.
It was also rumoured that the time was fast approaching when too many people would be literate thereby leaving a shortage of servants for the wealthy. And where would the world be if slavery were abolished?
Then people feared the arrival of ships that would carry 500 people, jet-propelled flying machines that would move faster even than the speed of sound and pocket-size machines that could that could calculate mathematics. All of these things, it was feared, would lead to the destruction of moral and orderly society.
Then people feared what was termed the ‘cashless society’ in which people would no longer carry pockets full of coins and rolls of banknotes but instead would carry a piece of plastic card.
People have always resisted change. Plans for ghastly new buildings always attracted the most vehement protests; the Sydney Opera House, the Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Westminster Abbey, Auckland Skytower…
But, wait a minute! Is it not the abovementioned progress that raised man from his cave existence?
Man has always benefitted from progress.
Man will always benefit from progress.



Monday, 23 April 2012

It's Not Like Catching a Bus


Latecomer chases plane down tarmac
April 23, 2012, 9:39 amYahoo! New Zealand
A man who missed his boarding call, allegedly smashed a security door and chased a plane down the runway in Brisbane, Australia, could face time behind bars.
Philip Daley, 31, appeared in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Saturday, the Courier Mail reports.
He is charged with entering airside areas without authorisation and prejudicing the safe operation of an aircraft, as well as causing willful damage to the security door.
Police prosecutor sergeant Tara Pease said he was attempting to board the Jetstar plane – even after the staircase had been removed and the plane was taxiing to the runway before take-off.
He had got on to the tarmac by smashing the glass that protected an emergency button to open the door.
Australian Federal Police officers then chased him to stop him reaching the aircraft.
Daley's lawyer Sarah Lynch says her client had a ticket for the flight but had not boarded the plane.
"He panicked and tried to catch the flight," she said.
If convicted, he could be imprisoned.
Daley has been remanded in custody until his next court appearance on May 2.
Peter’s Comment
This takes us back to the 1960s when an Australian airline operated a fleet of Dutch Fokker Friendship aircraft and a Brisbane businessman missed his flight to a crucial appointment. In Australia an Ocker is an Australian of less than average esteem and when something is said to be chocker that means it is full.
The man dashed after the aircraft and had almost made it to the runway when the captain, turning for take-off, slid back his window and called to the sprinting would-be passenger, “Sorry, Ocker, the Fokker’s chocker!”

THE MAGIC OF ONIONS

Email: Leftover Onions Are Poisonous
Email examined by David Emery, About.com Guide

Forwarded email claims that uncooked, leftover onions are 'poisonous' because they're 'a huge magnet for bacteria,' therefore especially prone to spoilage.
I have used an onion which has been left in the fridge, and sometimes I don't use a whole one at one time, so save the other half for later.
Now with this info, I have changed my mind.... will buy smaller onions in the future.
I had the wonderful privilege of touring Mullins Food Products, Makers of mayonnaise... Mullins is huge, and is owned by 11 brothers and sisters in the Mullins family. My friend, Jeanne, is the CEO.
Questions about food poisoning came up, and I wanted to share what I learned from a chemist.
The guy who gave us our tour is named Ed. He's one of the brothers Ed is a chemistry expert and is involved in developing most of the sauce formula. He's even developed sauce formula for McDonald's.
Keep in mind that Ed is a food chemistry whiz. During the tour, someone asked if we really needed to worry about mayonnaise. People are always worried that mayonnaise will spoil. Ed's answer will surprise you. Ed said that all commercially-made Mayo is completely safe.
"It doesn't even have to be refrigerated. No harm in refrigerating it, but it's not really necessary." He explained that the pH in mayonnaise is set at a point that bacteria could not survive in that environment. He then talked about the quaint essential picnic, with the bowl of potato salad sitting on the table and how everyone blames the mayonnaise when someone gets sick.
Continued below ....

No amount of onion can ever fix this young man's problems


Download a free sample of this Ebook from:

Ed says that when food poisoning is reported, the first thing the officials look for is when the 'victim' last ate ONIONS and where those onions came from (in the potato salad?). Ed says it's not the mayonnaise (as long as it's not homemade Mayo) that spoils in the outdoors. It's probably the onions, and if not the onions, it's the POTATOES.
He explained, onions are a huge magnet for bacteria, especially uncooked onions. You should never plan to keep a portion of a sliced onion... He says it's not even safe if you put it in a zip-lock bag and put it in your refrigerator.
It's already contaminated enough just by being cut open and out for a bit, that it can be a danger to you (and doubly watch out for those onions you put in your hotdogs at the baseball park!)
Ed says if you take the leftover onion and cook it like crazy you'll probably be okay, but if you slice that leftover onion and put on your sandwich, you're asking for trouble. Both the onions and the moist potato in a potato salad will attract and grow bacteria faster than any commercial mayonnaise will even begin to break down.
So, how's that for news? Take it for what you will. I (the author) am going to be very careful about my onions from now on. For some reason, I see a lot of credibility coming from a chemist and a company that produces millions of pounds of mayonnaise every year.

Analysis: Versions of this text have been circulating since mid-2008, with the earliest examples attributed to food writer "Zola Gorgon" (aka Sarah McCann). I have not been able to locate the exact date or venue of its original appearance.
While the article makes a valid point about the relative safety of commercially-produced mayonnaise versus the other ingredients typically found in homemade potato salad (e.g. onions and potatoes), it exaggerates the danger of keeping and using leftover raw onions.
It's not the onions; it's how you handle them
According to science writer Joe Schwarcz, onions are in no sense a "magnet for bacteria." In fact, Schwarcz writes, cut onions contain enzymes that produce sulphuric acid, which inhibits the growth of germs. Onions can become contaminated during handling, but there's nothing about them that makes them intrinsically more susceptible to bacterial growth or spoilage than any other raw vegetable.
"So unless you have sliced your onions on a contaminated cutting board, or handled them with dirty hands," Schwarcz explains, "you can safely put them in a plastic bag and store them and there will not be any bacterial contamination."
Food folklore: Onions 'attract' or 'collect' infectious bacteria
The notion that onions are a "bacteria magnet" may stem from an old wives' tale dating at least as far back as the 1500s, when it was believed that distributing raw onions around a residence guarded against the bubonic plague and other diseases by "absorbing the elements of infection." Believe it or not, though it has no scientific basis whatsoever,

Detailed Analysis

The terminology that onions are "bacterial magnets" makes no sense. No food attracts bacteria, although of course some are more likely to support bacterial multiplication once infected.
This widely circulated message claims that placing onions around a room can absorb the flu virus and thus prevent people from catching the flu and becoming ill. It tells the story of a farming family that escaped the devastating flu epidemic of 1919 supposedly by placing onions in the rooms of the farmhouse. It relates other cases in which onions supposedly prevented people from getting the flu or at least aided their recovery from illness. According to the message, onions can absorb and contain not only viruses such as those that cause flu but also bacteria that cause other types of illness. The message also claims that placing onions and garlic around rooms saved many people from getting the Black Plague.


However, there is no credible scientific evidence that supports the claims in the message. Scientists have repudiated the idea that onions can act as "magnets" that attract bacteria or viruses. In an article debunking another onion myth (which suggests that raw onions are a “magnet for bacteria” and can therefore make you ill), Dr Joe Schwarcz of McGill University's Office for Science and Society 
explains:
An article on The Chemist's Kitchen website about the humble onion's supposed propensity to attract bacteria concurs with Dr Schwarcz's view, noting:
Nothing is a bacteria magnet. Firstly, bacteria have minimal mobility. They usually travel in water droplets, if at all. Sneezes, for example. Moulds can release spores which get blown around but bacteria usually grows in moist environments and are slimy, making getting airborne difficult. Secondly, if there was such a thing as a 'bacteria magnet' it would be enormously useful in the medical field for drawing bacteria away from the ill and infirmed. Not such use has been made of onions.
And a November 2009 Wall Street Journal article about home flu cures notes:
Biologists say it's highly implausible that onions could attract flu virus as a bug zapper traps flies. Viruses require a living host to replicate and can't propel themselves out of a body and across a room.
When outside of a host, viruses are metabolically inert and cannot reproduce. While outside of host cells, they exist as a protein coat or capsid. If the virus in its inert form comes into contact with a suitable host, it can insert its genetic material into its host. Given these facts, it is stretching credibility to suggest that an onion can somehow magically draw viruses in a room into itself and safely contain them. There is no plausible scientific reason why an onion would have such properties.

As with many such circulated health tips, the message does not present any plausible evidence to back up its claims. The story of the doctor's 1919 visit to the healthy farm family's home, along with the supposed reason for their continued health, is just that - a story. No names or other references are included that would allow the veracity of the story to be checked. And the other incidents described in the message are unsubstantiated, anecdotal, and, in any case, prove nothing. The fact that a group of people - such as the staff in a hairdressing salon - did not contract flu in a particular year can not be seen as credible evidence that onions placed around the room were what stopped them from becoming ill. A cut onion left in a jar is likely to become darkened and "messy" regardless of any supposed ability to absorb germs. The pneumonia sufferer may well have began to feel better just as quickly even if no onion was in her sick room.

The myth that onions can somehow absorb the agents of disease and thereby prevent illness goes back centuries. During the dark and dreadful days of the Black Plague in the 14th century, many believed that a strategically placed onion in a dwelling could indeed ward off the plague. However, this tactic did not "save many from the black plague" as claimed in the message. In truth, onions are no more likely to attract and absorb Bubonic Plague bacteria (or the haemorrhagic fever virus that some researchers suggest may have been the real cause of the Black Death) than they are to absorb and attract more modern threats such as the H1N1 virus (swine flu). Those who lived at the time of the Black Death tended to believe that a miasma - a poisonous vapor or mist - was responsible for spreading the plague. They used many tactics to try to ward off this miasma including strong scents and even loud noises. Given the level of knowledge at the time, it is hardly surprising that people believed that a strong smelling substance such as onion might absorb this deadly miasma. These days, with our much greater understanding of bacteria and viruses and how they spread, it is considerably more surprising that some people still believe that onions can somehow magically drag the agents of disease from the air of a room and render them harmless.

While the idea that onions can attract and absorb bacteria and viruses is frankly rather silly, it should be noted that onions have long been thought to have medicinal benefits when consumed in various ways. And there may be some truth to these claims. The above mentioned Wall Street Journal article notes:
The idea that onions have medicinal properties goes back millennia and spans many cultures. Egyptians thought onions were fertility symbols. Ancient Greeks rubbed them on sore muscles, and Native Americans used them to treat coughs and colds. Herbalists note that the World Health Organization recognizes onion extracts for providing relief in the treatment of coughs, colds, asthma and bronchitis.
And a literature review about the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties of garlic and onions published in a 2007 issue of Nutrition & Food Science notes in its abstract:
Both garlic and onions exert their effects on human health via multiple different functions, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. The organosulphur compounds in these spices scavenge oxidizing agents, inhibit the oxidation of fatty acids, thereby preventing the formation of pro-inflammatory messengers, and inhibit bacterial growth, via interaction with sulphur-containing enzymes.
However, the fact that onions may hold some demonstrable medicinal properties, does not in any way validate the fanciful notion that an onion can collect and store bacteria and viruses in a room.

Peter’s Comment
So why do people create and send emails that make spectacular claims? Easy! They want to track the email so they can collect and sell addresses. But to do this they have to spy on you and put harmful bugs on your computer. And here is the nasty bit. No amount of onion will then fix your computer!
So when forwarding emails, you should always remove all previous addresses after you click ‘Forward.’ By doing this you will be helping beat spies and spammers as well as protecting the privacy of others. Below is an example of how not to do it.
Friday, 20 April, 2012 3:47 PM
From:    
To:        "Brian Gullible" <briangullible@sneeze.com>, "Trevor Believer" <faithful@nonsense.co.nz>, "Elizabeth Onion" <lizonion@hotpotato.com>, and maybe dozens more addresses.

To forward an email safely your recipients should see only your address. To do this you should not put the new addresses in the ‘To’ or ‘Cc’ boxes. You should always click ‘Show Bcc’ and insert the addresses in the ‘Bcc’ box as shown below.
Insert addresses (separated by commas)Show Bcc
To:
Cc:
Bcc:
Subject: ONIONS

Finally, highlight and delete all the earlier addresses. Then when your email is received by your recipients it will look like this:

FW: Onions

From:    
To:          undisclosed-recipients