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Following a centuries-old Grigovian tradition of feting any person who successfully locates and masters all eight Challenges of Skill & Mastery, the Glorious Republic of Grigovia today celebrated Yuoyest Uouiyind, aged 14, of Pryaghdoyest. Located each year at different spots around this landlocked Central Asian nation, each Challenge of Skill & Mastery can be reached only on foot or horseback, and participants have from All Hallow's Eve until Second National Independence Day on November 20th to locate and beat them. The final act of each Challenge is to symbolically pierce a veil, which in times past meant using a sword or dirk to cut a hole in a piece of hanging cloth but which today involves not cutting but hacking into one of several websites listed at the individual locations. Ms. Uouiyind is the youngest contestant ever to win the title of Skilled Mistress of Challenges; she studies neurobiology and mathematics at the Che Guevara Secondary School for Biology in her hometown in southern Grigovia. Reports speak of impromptu parades across Grigovia in the young lady's honor, although the state parade is scheduled for noon on this coming Saturday along the Avenue of the Victims of Imperialistic Oppression in beautiful downtown Grig.
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Under the vigilant eye of the country's leading metallurgic and molecular chemists, and funded primarily by generous financial contributions from average Grigovian citizens, a small army of technicians has started to apply layers of non-toxic chemicals to the exterior of Liberty Enlightening the World. The American government had sold her to Grigovia after de-funding its Park Service, and since then the statue has been carefully resurrected on Free Spit (formerly Mad Spit, for the insane asylum once located there), an island that rises from the Yalung River in the heart of cosmopolitan Grig. “All we need now is a good hard rain,” said Dr. Fiyennd Gharszt, who designed the witch's brew being applied to Liberty's copper panels. Once activated by water, the chemicals will turn her golden once more, a flashing shining goddess for all the world to see. “The water-activated compounds bind to any piece of oxidized copper, loosening it from the substrate at the molecular level and allowing it to run down the supple folds of our lady's flowing robes, where it will collect in catchment basins at her feet,” said Eleinna Hyourst-Rahdt, a former molecular biologist and current volunteer who manages a portion of the donated funds. While it is inevitable that some of the runoff will enter the sparkling Yalung River, Dr. Gharszt was adamant that it posed a threat to neither flora nor fauna and that it would in no way negatively impact farms or wildlife downstream. “We have been testing these compounds for months,” he said, “and in every scenario, the bits of oxidized copper separated from the molecules to which they were bound shortly after the bonding took place, whereupon they settled to the ground and were absorbed into the sediment without a noticeable impact on river grass or fishes. As it meanders through the moraine field north of Grig the Yalung naturally picks up its of tin, gold, and copper; our meager contribution will hardly matter.” Renovations to Liberty Enlightening the World are scheduled to be completed in time for the second the Glorious Republic of Grigovia's yearly independence ceremonies, on November 20th, during which it commemorates its self-liberation from Persian rule in 250 B.C.
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Realizing suddenly the extent to which it has been acting counter to the goal of enabling its citizens to live in Liberty and foster it amongst themselves, the Glorious Republic of Grigovia (GROG) announced a nationwide voluntary reeducation campaign. Additionally, the country is taking steps to shut down all ministries and public functions but those absolutely necessary to maintain the country's infrastructure, keep her people healthy, and provide for the safety of her borders and sovereign ground. Former government employees are being offered no-cost vocational training before being reintegrated into the private sector. (Grigovians not currently working for the government are invited to also attend vocational training of their choice so long as they make a firm commitment and show up for class on time.) Most of the funding for these measures will come from the sale of massive stores of conflict-free rare earth minerals stockpiled over the last decade by the Ministry of Natural Resources. Return To Liberty (RTL), as the campaign is being called, is expected to cost in the billions of euros, although, after it has taken affect fully, taxes will drop into the single digits nationwide. RTL is the brainchild of Grigovia's prime minister Dr. Frederikka Velldoyend, her cabinet, and a number of privately funded think-tanks, among them Grigovians United for Freedom (GUFF) and Central Asians Realizing Liberty (CARL). Physical copies of F.A. Hayek's book the Constitution of Liberty are available for pickup at all local police stations as well as for download on the prime minister's website. RTL passed both houses of the Grigovian parliament with little debate and much applause. Thallandia Yündlennd, crown princess of the Grigovian quasi-royal house (a symbolic order costing less per year than the price to replace a few manhole covers) welcomed the move, saying: “The House of Yündlennd applauds the decision of the fine people of this land to shed the last vestiges of misguided intellectualism. My grandfather, who abdicated shortly after the Great Depression out of protest over reactionary measures being enacted at that time would be proud.”
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As part of its nation-wide efforts to improve the health and well-being of its inhabitants, the Glorious Republic of Grigovia announced the reopening of the Lower Eastern Yiptlong Hot Springs & Baths (LEYHS&B). Shuttered shortly after Grigovia's independence – in 1988 – from the Union of Soviet Socialist States, LEYHS&B sat dormant and neglected until 1994. Then, a group of private investors conspired with the Grigovian Ministry of the Interior to not only restore the Art -Deco-style bath houses to their former glory but also tap the region's geothermal capacity to provide heating and electricity to the baths and some neighboring communities. At one time closed to all but the most well-connected cadres of the former Soviet regime, LEYHS&B is now accessible to citizens and tourists via Grigovia's robotic bus system. (Buses depart regularly from the town square in Eiyehrdo Ghassdt, a proud village that lies about halfway between Grig and the eastern city of Gar Nuuzsh.) Famous for wide pools of swirling hot waters as well as frigid dipping basins, visitors to LEYHS&B can now enjoy also a full spectrum of spa treatments that include world-class massages, Finnish-style sauna, archery and martial arts lessons, and guided horse-back or hiking tours of the majestic Eastern Yiptlong massif. Expect stunning views of the Great Dune Sea as well as many happy times with your friends and loved ones at our beloved Hot Springs & Baths. Be sure to visit the adjacent Happy Times Smoking Lodge, where all manner of combustible leaves, tars, and saps from around the world are available for purchase and consumption. Come soon, please, and relax.
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Abdul Hazim Ishumayal, 34, started life in a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. His parents were loving and kind, his father a baker and his mother a nurse; they were killed during an Israeli clearing raid while sleeping in their beds, blasted to pieces by a trigger-happy teenager who to this day is plagued by the images of their slaughter. At the time of their deaths, Abdul Hazim had been visiting his aunt and uncle in the West Bank, poor people who could not afford to keep him and raise him as their own. He was sent to an orphanage, but while making his way to it the building was bombed, and destroyed. Then – thank Allah – a member of one of Grigovia's Roving Hospitality Teams of Magnanimous Mercifulness heard of the young boy's plight and arranged to have him housed in Grig's own Home for Children Orphaned by Imperialistic Warmongery.
Abdul Hazim thrived in his new home, excelling at maths and languages and showing from early on a propensity for political dexterity. (It is rumored that he once talked a pack of rabid hooligans out of pummeling him and into giving him a lift in their jeepney all the way across town to his favorite bakery.) He spent his teenage years in Germany, attending the Dr. Frederik Meyer Gymnasium für Fortgeschritte Mathematik in Nürnberg and graduated 2nd from the top of his class. Thereafter, he studied at the acclaimed Teknikskol in Arhus, Denmark and at the Polytechnical Institute for Game and Numbers Theory in Houston, Texas.
Having seen enough of the rest of the world, Mr. Ishumayal returned to his old neighborhood in Grig, moving into a modest flat a few blocks from the orphanage where he was housed as a child. Now, he splits his time between volunteering with various local charities, working on his doctoral dissertation (he is providing – in painstaking detail - a half-dozen possible solutions to the Goedel Paradox), teaching at the Ɣȅrȡȫҩӑsɀt (Grigovia's premier institute for mathematical study), and hiking with his girlfriend, UN-embassador Erya Rovend. The people of Grigovia thank Abdul Hazim for his kindness, his gentleness, his passion, and honor him as one of their own, a native son born abroad. Huzzah!
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Gathering for the third time in the the Queen Pylta the Terrible Hotel's Grand Ballroom and Conference Suites, representatives of indigenous tribes from around the world met in in beautiful cosmopolitan Grig. “We are happy to be here again,” said U'u'tkik Bainbridge of the Greater Inupiaq Confederacy, an organization of Native Canadians. “As are we,” said Jerry Whitefoot of America's Western Plains Sioux while patting U'u'tkik on the shoulder affectionately; “it is not often that leaders and elders of Mother Earth's aboriginal groups can come together in such welcoming and safe surroundings.” The Queen Pylta the Terrible Hotel has received the highest structural integrity ratings from the United Nation's own Architectural Security Bureau, the only hotel in Central Asia built to such exacting standards. “During the Soviet occupation of this land, we used to have to meet here in relative secrecy,” said Ooundyesst Rovend, leader of the Nearflung Free Nations of Grigovia's own indigenous Yaelong tribes. He pointed at a group of individuals dressed in the manner of Native Siberians, saying, “and I remember planning guerrilla actions against our Socialist oppressors with those ladies and gentlemen over there, although we shelved our insurrections once the Poles toppled the Russians with their Solidarity campaign.” In addition to frequent exhibits of martial prowess and numerous prayer sessions and chanting circles, the event included scores of areas where basket-weaving and drum-making and similar Native practices were being taught. The highlight of Natives Gathering in Modern Grig (or NGMG) was the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, where attempts were made to hammer out a unified platform on the following topics: stabilizing and promoting harmony between all races, and all sexes; securing and protecting mineral and resource rights for the world's Aboriginal populations; supporting independence movements among First People nations; and preserving native cultural heritage through schooling of the young and promotion among all ages of traditional methods of procurement, dress, speech, and artistic expression. “I am eternally grateful to the Grig'v'an Ministry of Culture, which subsidized and helped plan the travel arrangements for me and the other economically-challenged Native Persons,” said Daniel O'ouloungo of the North-Bank Hawettha, a Congolese indigenous group. “What a beautiful thing is cooperation.”
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To celebrate thirty years of mutually honoring true Liberty and independently perpetuating human dignity by keeping income distribution at an equitable level, the capital cities of Caracas and Grig today declared their sisterhood. “This is a fine day for the champions of human cooperation,” said Dr. Eoyast Duoryyist, mayor of Grig on the Yalung, while touring the South American capital in celebration of the event. “We look forward,” he continued, ”to receiving in mountainous Grigovia delegations of these beautiful, sun-tanned people, who will surely fall in love with the children of our land, just as we have fallen in love with the children of these shores.” Jacqueline Faria, who is the mayor of Caracas, Venezuela, uttered a similar sentiment, claiming: “History will not soon forget the bonds we have made here, the trust we have forged here, the love we have shared here – especially your love, Mr. Mayor of Grig.” When last seen, Dr. Duoryyist had become so smitted by a pair of willing and buxom twin peasant girls that the 72-year-old was following them around in the manner of a hopelessly enamored schoolboy.
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A vast, interconnected network of tunnels stretches underneath this bustling city of 1.75 millions of industrious Grigovians. In nearly every possible direction (except, generally, up) run an unknowable number of branches, tunnels, shafts, holes, pits, pit-falls, and dead-ends that are not mapped, well-ventilated, secured, water-tight, stable, or safe. While these tunnels are a boon to this metropolis that is bisected by the meandering, brownish-gray Yalung River, drawing tourists in search of mythical cities of the underworld, their great extent and sheer length have proven a nightmarish hindrance to every military force that has tried to take Grig during its nearly eight-hundred-year history.
Rolls of vellum discovered in a walled-off section of tunnel in the mid-1980s during construction of a Soviet-style housing block in Grig's Old City hint that the first tunnel may have been dug by Grigov the Watchful himself. The man in whose honor the nation is named, according to a new translation of these recently-restored vellum sheets, dug “a small recess in the larger mound by the four oak-trees so as to have somewhere to store all of these good and shapely tubers.” It is not clear from the ancient texts just what type of tubers he had obtained, but what may have started as a small recess now stretches from the banks of the Yalung to the very foothills of the Yiptlong massif itself. So extensive is this network, and so wide some of its larger tunnels, that it serves as bazaar, swap-meet, and marketplace for much of Grigovia's gray economy, which is suspected to be at least three times larger, and far more lively, than all of the country's above-ground, legitimate economic activity combined. Unconfirmed reports leaked by the U.S. State Department indicate that a majority of the fuel, mounts, firearms, provisions, and other such military gear that reaches the brave and heroic warriors of the various Yaelong tribes travels through the innumerable branches of this vast underground network of passageways.
While the Yaelong tribes were known even to Herodotus, who mentions them in his book, the Histories, a reference to the country now known as the Glorious Republic of Grigovia first appears in a Pashtun census from the year 1256, which says, roughly, “Avoid traversing the north-western Yplyn mountains, as a fierce people led by a priest-king named Krykuv guard all passes there with great diligence.“ Grigovia's Ministry of Internal Information Gathering, or MIIG, in a recent statement broadcast via short-wave radio, has warned all foreigners – especially foolhardy Americans – that any and all attempts to take the city of Grig, or to invade Grigovia, are, because of the all of the tunnels, and due to Grigovians' inherent fierceness and proven ability to resist invasion, doomed to fail. The statement concluded with, “Do not even try, you stupid, imperialist, capitalist, Yankee swine, because we, and our cozy tunnels, are ready, and waiting. Do you remember Viet-Nam? Imagine everything brown and covered in snow, and children leaping at you with knives in their teeth.”
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Following the lead of Wisconsin, an American state that chose the lactobacillus as its official microbe, the Glorious Republic of Grigovia recently selected as its national bacterium the belliflorum argentii. Famous throughout Central Asia for its many roles, belliflorum argentii helps in the fermentation of czabtyip wine, tinges naturally-cured artisan paints and tattoo inks with a subtle silvery hue, and adds biting tartness to the fermented soft cheeses that are frequently sprinkled over tchuirff. (Tchuirff is a regional pastry made using goose meat, acorn flour, and red curry.) The bacterium grows best in the vast tunnel systems that run under the capital city of Grig, where it was first discovered and isolated. In humans, initial contact with high concentrations of unadulterated belliflorum argentii can cause mild-to-severe respiratory diseases as well as stubborn infections of the gastrointestinal tract. The bacterium is wholly Grigovian; it is not known to grow anywhere else. Under expert teacher supervision, each Grigovian child of school-going age shall add pertinent information regarding his nation's official bacterium to his text-books. Try tchuirff! Tour the catacombs of Grig! Book a trip to Grigovia, today. Please come visit us soon.
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