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Sobering Up: In An Alcohol-Soaked Nation, More Seek Booze-Free Social Spaces

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A national trend of boozeless bars is cropping up nationwide to create social spaces without the hangovers, DUIs and alcoholism culture. It’s part of a new push for sober options.

ST. LOUIS — Not far from the Anheuser-Busch brewery, Joshua Grigaitis fills a cooler with bottles and cans in one of the city’s oldest bars.

It’s Saturday night, and the lights are low. Frank Sinatra’s crooning voice fills the air, along with the aroma of incense. The place has all the makings of a swank boozy hangout.

Except for the booze.

Pop’s Blue Moon bar, a fixture of this beer-loving city since 1908, has joined an emerging national trend: alcohol-free spaces offering social connections without peer pressure to drink, hangovers or DUIs. From boozeless bars to substance-free zones at concerts marked by yellow balloons, sober spots are popping up across the nation in reaction to America’s alcohol-soaked culture, promising a healthy alternative for people in recovery and those who simply want to drink less.

Joshua Grigaitis puts out nonalcoholic drinks on a Saturday night. From boozeless bars to substance-free zones at concerts marked by yellow balloons, sober spots are popping up across the nation, promising a healthy alternative for people in recovery and those who simply want to drink less.

A cooler is filled with bottles and cans at Pop’s Blue Moon bar, which hosted boozeless Saturday nights in January, offering hop water, nonalcoholic beers and drinks infused with cannabis-derived CBD. (LAURA UNGAR/KHN)

“We evolved as social creatures. This is a good trend if you want the experience of companionship and social culture but don’t want the negatives,” said William Stoops, a University of Kentucky professor who studies drug and alcohol addiction. “It can help people make better choices.”

A federal survey shows nearly 67 million Americans binge drink at least monthly, meaning women down four drinks during a single occasion, men five. Midwestern states have some of the highest binge-drinking rates in terms of both prevalence and intensity, putting millions of people at risk.

Research links excessive alcohol use to fatty liver, cirrhosis and cancers of the breast, liver, colon, mouth and throat as well as heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, dementia, anxiety and depression. Nearly half of murders involve alcohol, according to studies. Drinking kills about 88,000 people annually, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. Such diseases and social ills cost the nation an estimated $249 billion a year.

Even one drink a day is unhealthy, said Dr. Sarah Hartz, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis. “If you’re going to drink, know it’s not good for you.

If you or someone close to you is struggling with issues mentioned in this story and you would like to connect with others online, join USA TODAY’s “I Survived It” Facebook support group. For help with a drinking problem, check Alcoholics Anonymous, Smart Recovery or the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s helpline at 800-662-HELP.JOIN THE GROUP

For Grigaitis, 41, who also goes by Joshua Loyal and is co-owner of the bar, tying all his fortunes to alcohol was “weighing on my soul” after 20 years in the business. He cut way back on his own drinking and began holding boozeless Saturday nights in January, offering hop water, nonalcoholic beers and drinks infused with cannabis-derived CBD.

“I love everything about the bar business — except the alcohol,” he said. “The nonalcoholic beverage movement is a growing group. I’m making a decision to choose this and I’m proud of it.”

Chris Marshall, who founded Sans Bar in Austin, Texas, in 2015, got sober in 2007 and was working as a counselor when a client shared how difficult it was to navigate the social world without alcohol. The client’s relapse and subsequent death was his call to action.

Sans Bar held a national tour this year with pop-up events in St. Louis, Portland, Ore., and Anchorage, Alaska, and opened a permanent location in Austin. It draws a largely female crowd all along the sobriety spectrum, from those in recovery to the “sober curious.” People gather for hours to sip handmade mocktails, talk, dance and listen to speakers and sober musicians.

“If you closed your eyes on a Friday night, you’d think you were in a regular bar,” he said. “This is not about being sober forever. This is about being sober for the night.”

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24 Hours Across Africa

Mignolet to extend his stay in Liverpool- Klopp

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LiverpoolFc fans has called on Klopp to be careful of who to sign due to the club silent in the transfer market.

Liverpool gaffer has reacted by stating, he is keen to add more dept to his team as he look to secure another trophy in coming season.

Jurgen Klopp has also disclosed, he expects Simon Mignolet to remain at Liverpool following positive discussions with the goalkeeper.

Liverpool want to keep Mignolet, with sporting director Michael Edwards not putting a price on him.

And following the 3-1 preseason victory over Bradford City, Klopp disclosed a talk with the goalkeeper that suggests he will extend his six-year spell with the club.

“Yeah, how I’ve heard,” Klopp responded when asked whether Mignolet will remain with Liverpool.

“I’ve had a lot of conversations with him over the last couple of years and months.

“Before we left [for holiday], we had a talk and I would say, yes [he will stay]. I think at a club like Liverpool you need two No. 1s at least and we have that, that’s cool, with Ali and Simon.

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Erdogan, confident that Trump will waive sanctions on Turkey.

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Source: Reuters- U.S. President Donald Trump has the authority to waive sanctions on Turkey for its purchase of Russian air defense systems and should find a “middle ground” in the dispute, President Tayyip Erdogan says.

First parts of a Russian S-400 missile defense system are unloaded from a Russian plane at Murted Airport, known as Akinci Air Base, near Ankara, Turkey, July 12, 2019.

Erdogan’s comments came two days after NATO member Turkey took delivery of the first consignment of advanced Russian S-400 missile defense system parts, despite warnings from Washington that the move would trigger U.S. sanctions.

Broadcaster Haberturk quoted Erdogan as telling Turkish journalists that Trump “has the authority to waive or postpone CAATSA”, referring to U.S. sanctions designed to prevent countries buying military equipment from Russia.

“Since this is the case, it is Trump who needs to find the middle ground,” Erdogan said, according to Haberturk.

Trump expressed sympathy for Turkey’s position when he met Erdogan at a G20 summit in Japan last month, saying Ankara had bought the S-400s from Moscow because the previous U.S. administration would not sell it the Patriot defense system made by Raytheon Co.

“Right now, I don’t believe Trump is of the same opinion of those below him and he has said this in front of all the world’s media,” Erdogan said. “By buying the S-400s, we are not getting ready for war. We are trying to guarantee peace and our national security.”

Despite Trump’s warm words, U.S officials said last week the administration still planned to act.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the Washington Post in an interview published late on Sunday “the law requires that there be sanctions and I’m confident that we will comply with the law and President Trump will comply with the law”.

U.S. officials have said Turkey could also be thrown off the F-35 stealth fighter jet program in addition to the threatened CAATSA sanctions,

Meaning it would no longer be part of the production process or be able to buy the jets it has ordered.

The Pentagon says the S-400s would pose a threat to the jets if they were operating in the same region.

Erdogan said Turkey had orders for more than 100 F-35s made by Lockheed Martin and expected Washington to remain committed to the deal.

Erdogan said Turkey still wanted to buy Patriot missile defense systems from Washington and the two countries should be aiming to increase trade and work on “comprehensive defense cooperation”.

“Trump has always viewed this positively,” he said. “ … Now, at a time when we are discussing mutual trade volumes of $75 billion, $100 billion, will we be dealing with this gossip? Why should we? We are strategic partners, let’s do what strategic partnership entails.”

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