[imgcontainer right] [img:Hickory.jpeg] Hickory, proud resident of Flint Hill, Virginia, and Grand Champion. [/imgcontainer]

The resident of a 56-acre farm in rural Flint Hill, Virginia, dazzled a capacity crowd of international spectators and canine paparazzi last night to win the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

“Hickory the Scottish deerhound is a country dog who prefers to spend her days … chasing rabbits and deer,” wrote Katie Thomas for the New York Times.

Judge Paolo Dondina chose Hickory, a five year old female with wiry grey hair and a soft floating gait, as Best in Show. Some 2600 dogs competed in this year’s event.

Handler Angela Lloyd is also a Yonderite, from Warrenton, Virginia.

• The new head of the Walmart Foundation is an ex civil rights lawyer, former counsel to President Jimmy Carter and college president. Margaret McKenna, 65, now directs a foundation that gives out half a billion dollars a year. 

The Walmart Foundation focuses these days on hunger and education. “If I did not believe the company had the commitment to treat people fairly now, and to give back to the community, I wouldn’t be there,’’ McKenna told the Boston Globe in her first in-depth interview on her foundation role. “It couldn’t just be me, trying to make the bad guy look good. That just would not work for me.’’

• Rising food prices have pushed tens of millions of people into extreme poverty and conditions are reaching “dangerous levels” in some countries, according to World Bank President Robert Zoellick. New data shows that grain and other staples are reach near historic high levels. 

Bloomberg reports that countries where expensive food imports are becoming a major burden include Mozambique, Uganda, Mali, Niger and Somalia in Africa, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in Asia and Honduras, Guatemala, Bolivia and Haiti in Latin America.

Zoellick said poor people “are now facing incredible pressure to feed themselves and their families,” and that this was an “aggravating factor” in the recent unrest in Egypt and Tunisia. 

[imgcontainer left] [img:REVIEW-7-popup.jpeg] This little number from Rodarte shows the fashion industry’s renewed interest in rural — although we can’t see many people wearing this to the pancake supper at the Methodist church. [/imgcontainer]

• Fashion week in New York, and, yes, rural is cool. The Times reports

At Rodarte, Laura and Kate Mulleavy seemed to pick up where they left off last season, with a collection that had overtones of the rural West. There were long dresses and slim wool coats in wheat and blue-sky tones; a few dresses were printed with wheat stems around the hem, and others had decorative wide waistbands or aprons of calf hair. More contemplative than experimental, with some high-necked dresses that looked soberly Steinbeckian, the collection was a solid step forward.

• More budget news:

— First, Coal Tattoo notes that the Obama Administration is proposing to end coal industry subsidies amounting to $2.6 billion over the next decade. CT’s Ken Ward Jr. notes that budget cutters from coal states now seem to think the President is going too far if it means nipping these subsidies. 

— Elise Hoben, vice president of Rural LISC (a non-profit housing group) had this to say about the Obama budget proposal in an email she sent out yesterday:

How bad is this budget? There is more money in rural housing in the Continuing Resolution drafted by the House Republican Appropriations Committee for FY 11 than in the Obama Administration FY 12 budget. The House cuts $100 billion from domestic discretionary for the seven months remaining in the fiscal year but still found a way to continue section 502 at the current rate, fund 504 loans and provide $37 million for self help. The House has more money for rental assistance than the FY 12 request.

— Sen. John McCain seems to be gaining support for his effort to end the Essential Air Service program. The program ($163 million a year) subsidizes commercial air flights into small towns. 

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