STD rates are on the rise in Minnesota

Don't go without your jacket, Minnesota

Any and all press releases disseminated on April 1 naturally warrant an extra degree of scrutiny—especially ones pertaining to bodily functions, reproduction, Jesus, and other puritanical hang-ups. So when we came across a report, ostensibly put out by the Minnesota Department of Health, titled "Incidence of Some STDs Increase Again in 2008," we were a bit skeptical. But 45 seconds of half-assed detective work confirmed that, yes, it's legit. Which is a trifle unfortunate, considering the news contained therein.

A brief rundown of the uncomfortable findings:

• Chlamydia cases increased by 7 percent in 2008.

• In the last 13 years, Chlamydia cases have doubled.

• But don't go blaming cityfolk—the biggest increases have been in greater Minnesota and Twin Cities suburbs.

• About 70 percent of all Chlamydia cases occur in teens and young adults between 15 and 24.

• Syphilis is also on the rise, though it appears to be affecting a different demographic than chlamydia, namely gay dudes. Of the 163 early syphilis cases recorded in 2008, 97 percent were males.

• In a bit of good news, the clap (gonorrhea) is on the wane, down 12 percent from last year [round of applause].

Obligatory words of (conventional) wisdom: "Of course, avoiding sexual contact is the best way to prevent getting an STD," says Peter Carr, director of the STD and HIV section of the Minnesota Department of Health. "For those who are sexually active, limiting sexual partners, e.g., monogamous relationships, and correctly using a latex condom will greatly reduce the risk of getting an STD. Getting tested for STDs each year is equally important for sexually active singles—even without symptoms." —Matt Snyders

All-or-nothing Norm

Norm Coleman vows to fight this Senate race to the bitter end, but what is he risking by doing so? Pretty much everything, says Washington Post's Chris Cillizza at the Fix.

Cillizza analyzed Coleman's strategy and the big gamble he faces. Keep fighting and risk pissing off Minnesotans or quit and disenfranchise your hardcore supporters and donors? It's not a fun place to be. Could Coleman self-destruct from this race? It's not looking good.

Coleman is only 59, and he could still have a long life in politics ahead of him. Cillizza envisions him being a strong GOP candidate for governor if Pawlenty chooses not to run for reelection. But he could be digging his grave with this recount. —Emily Kaiser

Deer governor

Gov. Tim Pawlenty made the dreams of all deer come true in Thief River Falls today when he announced he will be there for this year's deer hunting opener on November 6.

So why would the deer be so happy?

Pawlenty isn't much of a hunter, especially on the one day of the year he is supposed to prove he's a real huntin' Minnesotan.

The last time Pawlenty bagged a deer on opening day was back in 2004 when he shot a small four-point buck. Can we even call Pawlenty a man anymore?

Much like his governing, actually being successful on the hunting trip isn't the real point, Pawlenty insists. It's all about promoting the sport. That's what they all say when they don't have any skills.

Good luck this year, T-Paw. If you don't score a buck, your chances at the Oval Office are probably out the window. —Emily Kaiser

Flaming couches

Last week, the measure to ban outdoor upholstered furniture and mattresses moved one step ahead as the Minneapolis City Council's regulatory committee approved the plan to cure Minneapolis of all things "tacky." Now it's up to the City Council to take the next step. Frat boys, enjoy those front-porch couch parties while you still can! We're so glad Minneapolis is looking out for our best interests. Bring on the aesthetic police!

Councilmember Diane Hofstede, who represents the Dinkytown neighborhood near the University of Minnesota campus, proposed the measure. Cam Gordon, who represents the U campus, opposes it because he says couches on open porches should be allowed.

Don't worry, rich ladies. Cute outdoor upholstered outdoor lounges from Pottery Barn would still be kosher. The measure would amend the nuisance ordinance to ban only those couches that are not specifically designed to be outside.

Although there's been talk that upholstered couches could potentially become a festering breeding ground for rats and other woodland creatures, the main argument against outdoor couches is the fire hazard. But data provided by the Minneapolis Fire Department suggests it's a relatively minor risk:

* Total fires: 1,808
* Fires involving upholstered furniture being used outdoors: 1
* Cause: arson

* Total fires: 1,859
* Fires involving upholstered furniture being used outdoors: 3
* Cause: 1 arson, 1 careless smoking, 1 undetermined

* Total fires: 1,489
* Number of fires involving upholstered furniture being used outdoors: 3
* Cause: 2 careless smoking, 1 undetermined

—Erin Carlyle and Emily Kaiser

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