Daily Links, March 7: Rising poverty, nuclear concerns, and Vatican hackers

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Finally, some different topics in the news today!

Of course, the news isn't all good: Statistics show that extreme poverty in the United States has doubled in the last 15 years. "Extreme poverty" is in this case defined as living on less than $2 per person a day. How often do you spend less than $2 a day on food alone, not to mention other daily necessities?

Catholic leaders are also turning their attention to something that can do way more damage than birth control. The U.S. bishops have a petition calling for a change in America's policy on nuclear weapons and the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns today has released a statement calling for an end to nuclear energy.

Meanwhile, scientists continue to get closer to finding Higgs boson, aka the elusive "God particle."

Hopefully you didn't need to find anything on the Vatican's website today, since hacker group Anonymous targeted the site and took it offline as a statement against the church's policies and practices. As of this writing, the site still isn't back online.

In more news from Rome, lay Catholics got a refreshing (and somewhat surprising) victory when a canonical court overturned a bishop's decision to close 13 parishes in the Cleveland diocese. This marks the latest advance in a trend of the laity challenging church decisions through canon law.

In Virginia, Gov. Bob McDonnell signed a bill today requiring women to have ultrasounds before receiving an abortion. Virginia isn't the only state to pass such a law.

In Maine, new polling data shows that voters are likely to approve same-sex marriage in the state after defeating a measure to recognize these marriages in 2009. That follows the recent trend in New Jersey and other states where voters--including Catholics--are now supportive of legal recognition of marriage rights for gay couples.

And finally, there is of course some news regarding the HHS mandate: Bill Donahue's Catholic League was unhappy with Catholic News Service--a division of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops--for not being strong enough in publicizing Cardinal Timothy Dolan's letter on the issue. CNS fired back to say they have fairly covered the issue. I guess that's a question that is open to interpretation.