Day: November 12, 2019


CITI Warns of 'War on Wall Street and Wealth' in 2020 Election…

(Bloomberg) — The road to the White House in 2020 may entail a war against Wall Street and wealth itself, as polling results encourage more candidates to cast a jaundiced eye toward the financial world, Citi warned in a note to clients.

Some candidates are prioritizing greater accountability for big corporations, while others are concerned that “loosening the reins might foment another financial crisis,” a Citi team led by economist Dana Peterson wrote. Still others believe “banks and their executives were not sufficiently penalized for the 2008-2009 crisis” and that big companies are anti-competitive and “antagonistic towards consumer protection.”

Banks and wealthy individuals are viewed by others as a revenue source for “re-distributional policies, including further tax relief for low- and middle-income persons, and funding priorities from paid leave to jobs programs,” Citi said.

What should investors do? Understand “what policies can be achieved via legislation versus regulation,” Peterson said. As any president may find law-making — including altering taxes — difficult, markets should instead focus on “proposals that can be implemented via regulatory channels, including through executive orders and presidential proclamations.”

All eyes on Tuesday are turned to any comments President Trump may make on trade in a speech set for noon at the New York Economic Club. U.S. stocks gained before the remarks.

On Friday, Ally Invest’s chief investment strategist Lindsey Bell said financial stocks may struggle as the U.S. presidential election gathers steam, with Democratic candidates likely to target big banks in the wake of Trump’s looser regulations.

To contact the reporter on this story: Felice Maranz in New York at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Catherine Larkin at, Scott Schnipper

For more articles like this, please visit us at

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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Records Threatened From NY to Texas With Blast of Arctic Air…

Arctic Blast to Shatter Mid-November Cold Records
  • A strong cold front is plunging through the U.S.
  • This front will deliver the coldest air of the season so far for many in the eastern half of the country.
  • Numerous daily cold records for mid-November will be set.
  • A freeze is possible as far south as parts of the Gulf Coast.

A powerful arctic cold front is plunging through the U.S. and will deliver the coldest air of the season to the central, southern and eastern United States, shattering scores of mid-November records in the process.

The front was slicing through the Northeast and Southeast early Tuesday, with frigid temperatures by mid-November standards already in place across the nation’s mid-section.

Morning temperatures have already plunged to the single digits as far south as the Texas Panhandle, with some subzero lows in parts of the Northern Plains and upper Midwest.

Indianapolis plunged to the single digits Tuesday morning, the earliest in the fall they had ever done so in records dating to 1871.

Des Moines, Iowa, was flirting with 0 degrees Tuesday morning, among the earliest in the fall they had been so cold.

(MAPS: Current Temperatures | Current Wind Chills)

The front first arrived in the northern Plains and northern Rockies Sunday, plunged through much of the Plains and Midwest Monday.

Among daily record lows set Monday included minus-21 degrees in Turner, Montana, 13 degrees in Chicago and 16 degrees in St. Louis. Record cold highs set Monday included 8 degrees in Dickinson, North Dakota, and 18 degrees in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Temperatures on Monday afternoon stayed well below freezing as far south as the mid-Mississippi Valley and Central Plains. These were daytime highs more typical of January than November.

Even South Texas was involved, where a Monday heat index in the low 90s was followed by a Tuesday morning wind chill in the low 30s.

As of early Tuesday morning, the National Weather Service was forecasting over 360 additional daily cold records could be tied or set Tuesday through Thursday morning in the U.S., including both record lows and record cold high temperatures for a particular day.

Timing the Cold Blast

The next round of shivering temperatures arrived in the Northern Plains and upper Midwest Sunday and plunged quickly into the Southern Plains and Ohio Valley on Monday. The front will barrel through the East Coast and Deep South Tuesday, then through the rest of the Florida Peninsula by Wednesday.

The animation above indicates the timing of the arctic cold front. The contours show departures from average-high temperatures each day. The areas in the purple and pink contours will have the coldest air, relative to mid-November averages.

Tuesday’s highs may be the coldest on record for Nov. 12 over a widespread area from the Northeast and Great Lakes into the Ohio Valley and lower Mississippi Valley. Highs may be stuck below freezing as far south as Tennessee and in the 40s as far south as the lower Rio Grande Valley of South Texas.

(MAPS: 10-Day Forecast Highs and Lows)

The National Weather Service noted subfreezing high temperatures Tuesday in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and Paducah, Kentucky, would be their record-earliest-in-season such occurrence, something more typical in mid-December.

Wednesday’s highs may still be stuck in the 40s in the Deep South and the 50s in parts of North Florida and the northern Gulf Coast.

Lows in the teens are expected Wednesday morning as far south as the Tennessee Valley.

The Deep South should see lows in the 20s Wednesday morning, and the season’s first freeze is possible along parts of the northern Gulf Coast, including Houston and New Orleans, by that time. Parts of North Florida will shiver with lows in the 30s Wednesday morning.

(MORE: When Your First Freeze Typically Arrives)

Lows in the interior Northeast should plunge into the teens, with 20s along the Interstate 95 corridor and coast by Wednesday and Thursday mornings. A few lows between 10 and minus 10 degrees are expected in northern New England by Thursday morning.

Well over 100 daily record lows will be threatened in the East and South Wednesday morning, and a smattering of daily records are possible in the Northeast Thursday morning.

As it turns out, a number of daily record lows for Nov. 12 and 13 that had stood since 1911 – which brought one of the most extreme cold fronts in U.S. history – are in jeopardy through Wednesday morning, including in Cleveland, Detroit, Indianapolis, Little Rock, Tulsa and St. Louis.

While another cold blast is expected to sweep into the Northeast this weekend, some relief from the cold air will gradually build into the Plains states this week into early next week.

(MORE: November 2019 U.S. Temperature Outlook)

Long Range Temperature Outlook

(This outlook, from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, shows the probabilities of above (tan, orange, red contours) or below (blue contours) average temperatures in the period specified. )

Similar to November 2018?

November 2018 was one of the 10 coldest Novembers on record for Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Mississippi. Kansas City, Missouri, shivered through its coldest November on record.

The only warmer-than-average areas last November were found along the West Coast, and in Alaska and Florida.

The upper-level pattern last year also brought a persistent southward dip in the jet stream over the central and eastern U.S., which led to the chilly November for much of the country.

Average State Temperature in November 2018

(Data: NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information)

The focus of the most anomalous cold and its impacts this year may be in different locations than November 2018, but the overall pattern suggests that a chilly November may be ahead for the second year in a row.

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

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Defense firms on track to make killer bots reality…

Weapons built by defense manufacturers that can think for themselves are getting smarter, which mean the much-feared killer robot could be a reality sooner than later. That’s the warning contained in a new report from Pax, a nonprofit based in the Netherlands that campaigns for peace around the world.

Killer robots, or lethal autonomous weapons systems, are designed to make life-or-death decisions on their own, without human control. It’s a worrying leap that’s been called the “third revolution in warfare,” after gunpowder and the atomic bomb. Both activists and military leaders have called for international regulations to govern these weapons, or even ban them outright, but key governments—like the United States and Russia—have so far resisted.

As far as anyone knows, militaries have yet to actually deploy killer robots on the battlefield, at least offensively. But Pax has identified at least 30 global arms manufacturers that don’t have policies against developing these kinds of weapons systems, and are reportedly doing so at a rate that is outpacing regulation.

The companies include US defense firms Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Raytheon, the Chinese state-owned conglomerates AVIC and CASC, Israeli firms IAI, Elbit, and Rafael, Rostec of Russia, and Turkey’s STM.

“As long as states haven’t agreed to collectively come up with some kind of regulatory regime, or ideally, a preemptive ban, the fear is very real that companies will be crossing this plane and will develop and produce and eventually field weapons that lack sufficient human control,” the report’s author, Frank Slijper, told Quartz.

Activists don’t believe that military use of some degree of artificial intelligence is problematic in it itself. The US military is already employing full autonomy in some of its defensive weapons platforms, like the US Navy’s Aegis shipboard missile defense system, which is designed to intercept enemy fire on its own. The US Army is developing an AI-capable cannon, which would select and engage targets on its own, as well as AI-assisted tanks that, as Quartz first reported, will be able to “acquire, identify, and engage targets” at least three times faster than any human. But these systems still all require a person to pull the trigger, so to speak.

PAX is more concerned about the potential deployment of AI in offensive systems that would select and attack targets on their own without human oversight. The group questions how these weapons would distinguish between combatants and civilians, or judge proportional responses. Legal experts still don’t know who would be held responsible if an autonomous weapon broke international law. And without lives on the line, these weapons could make it easier to go to war, and for those wars to escalate more quickly.

The report warns that such weapons would “violate fundamental legal and ethical principles and would destabilize international peace and security.”

What they’re building

Defense firms don’t produce weapons in a vacuum, Slijper said. Instead, he said, these weapons are developed because companies believe that’s what militaries want in their arsenals.

And unlike Google or Amazon, which have both faced public and internal backlash for their work on military systems, companies like Lockheed Martin and Raytheon do almost all of their business with militaries, so they face little risk from the negative reaction of consumers.

For its report, Pax sent questionnaires to 50 arms manufacturers that produce military systems, asking each if it had policies regarding autonomous weapons. Just eight firms said they had in place principals guiding their AI work. The rest did not reply.

Here’s what they told Pax:

Company Country Response
BAE Systems UK Policy supports “our customers’ view that there needs to be human input over the use of force” and “we believe that the use of autonomous systems does not mean a loss of command or the abdication of responsibility for decisions.”
Leonardo Italy “The use of autonomous systems in safety-critical contexts must be subject to supervision and human control. […] Committed to respect of core principles of [International Humanitarian Law].”
Milrem Estonia “Human control should always be maintained over all defence systems, including weapon systems…We always choose partners who share and adhere to the same values and positions we do.”
Northrop Grumman US “Not developing weapon systems that can autonomously select and attack targets without meaningful human controlcompany policies, practices and procedures reflect a strong commitment to human rights as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
QinetiQ UK “Policy prohibits the development of any system capable of firing a weapon without human intervention.”
ST Engineering Singapore “Complies fully with all Singapore laws and regulations on manufacturing of military products. Beyond Singapore, we also observe all UN sanctions and abide to all treaty obligations to which Singapore is a signatory.”
Thales France Working on “TrUE AI, an AI that is Transparent, Understandable and Ethical, where humans always remain in control.”
Volvo Sweden “Activities have no link with research on lethal autonomous weapons. Policy “has always been that a weapon should be at all times under meaningful human control, and that under no circumstance a weapon could autonomously open fire.”

Of the weapons that exist now, Slijper said he is particularly worried about “loitering munitions.” Pax describes these as hybrids between drones and guided missiles, which can “loiter” in the air for two hours or more before attacking their targets. Small, cheap and relatively easy to produce, the number of companies developing these weapons has grown considerably in the last 10 years, Slijper said. With so much availability, it’s only a matter of time before they are deployed in a large scale by both state and non-state actors alike.

The Pax report singled out two companies that are now manufacturing such weapons:

  • STM, a Turkish state-owned defense company, produces an AI-equipped loitering munition called KARGU. Complete with facial recognition capabilities, KARGU can autonomously select and attack targets using coordinates pre-selected by an operator. Turkey is reportedly set to use these “kamikaze drones” in Syria.
  • The Harpy, a “fire and forget” loitering munition manufactured by state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries, has a range of 62 miles and can stay aloft for two hours. IAI states that the system “loiters in the air waiting for the target to appear and then attacks and destroys the hostile threat within seconds.”

What’s next

While development of autonomous weapons continues apace, Pax believes there is still time to head off eventual catastrophe. The group said companies can play a crucial role in this, and should first make a public pledge against the manufacture of fully autonomous lethal weapons. As far as AI-assisted weapons systems go, Pax believes defense firms must “establish a clear corporate policy with implementation measures” that include:

  • Ensuring each new project is assessed by an ethics committee;
  • Ensuring the principle of meaningful human control is an integral part of the design and development of weapon systems;
  • Adding a clause in contracts, especially in collaborations with ministries of defense and arms producers, stating that the technology developed may not be used in lethal autonomous weapon systems;
  • Ensure employees are well informed about what they work on and allow open discussions on any related concerns.

Aside from a German arms industry association, which called for a ban on fully autonomous weapons systems earlier this year, most companies have not committed to any regulations, according to Pax.

It is important for nations to immediately take “bold steps to stop lethal autonomous weapons from becoming reality,” the report says. Yet, while Australia, Brazil, Chile, and Peru have been outspoken in their opposition to fully autonomous weapons, the US and Russia have so far stymied any attempts to pass a unified international treaty.

“Also countries such as Pakistan, Egypt, and Iraq have been supporters of a ban treaty,” Slijper said. “Probably quite understandable that some of the countries that over the past two decades have experienced drone warfare are probably anxious for what the future might bring to them.”

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The West's left-right battle lines run through Brazil…


“They did not jail a man,” declared the released prisoner. “They tried to kill an idea, and ideas don’t disappear.”

The freed man was Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the former left-wing Brazilian president who was jailed last year on corruption charges that his supporters believe were politically motivated. Lula left office in 2010 with a staggering 80 percent approval rating and was favored to be on course to return to power in 2018; his imprisonment paved the path to the presidency for far-right firebrand Jair Bolsonaro, who, both on the campaign trail and now in office, has loudly banged the drum against perceived perfidy and tyranny of leftist dogma.

But last week, Brazil’s Supreme Court ruled that Lula, as well dozens of others ensnared in a rolling corruption probe that reshaped Brazilian politics, had been unjustly jailed without receiving due process – that is, they had been denied the ability to exhaust their right to appeal their sentences before imprisonment. On Friday, Lula walked out of jail and was greeted by a throng of supporters from his left-leaning Workers’ Party.

“You have no idea of the meaning of me being here with you,” he said soon after his release in the southern city of Curitiba. “I, who have been speaking to the Brazilian people through all my life, did not think that I would be able to speak today . . . Every day you were the democracy’s fuel I needed to exist.”

From thousands of miles to the north came a striking message of support. Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., tweeted his admiration for Lula’s socially minded policies and decried his imprisonment. “I am delighted that he has been released from jail, something that never should have happened in the first place,” Sanders said. Lula thanked the U.S. candidate for his “solidarity,” and expressed his “hope” that the Democrats “have the wisdom to nominate a candidate with your worldview.”

The stage is set for an emboldened and aggrieved Lula to take the fight to Bolsonaro, who has courted President Donald Trump as part of a new hemispheric right-wing axis. “If we work hard, in 2022 the so-called left that Bolsonaro is so afraid of will defeat the ultraright,” Lula declared in a 45-minute speech he gave Saturday, vowing to build a new coalition to take down Bolsonaro.

Even before his release, he cast his struggle in more global terms. In a letter addressed to Britain’s Labour Party that he wrote from prison earlier this year, Lula inveighed against the “austerity” championed by Bolsonaro’s administration, what he deemed “the magic and wretched word that the rich everywhere use to attack the rights and achievements of the working class.” He went on: “‘We need to save resources, cut costs,’ they say, as they disassemble the state and become ever richer while the poor become ever poorer. So it is in the United Kingdom, so it is once again in Brazil.”

Bolsonaro has anchored his politics in a rejection of years of left-wing rule, unraveling environmental protections, seeking to privatize state institutions, and dabbling in an angry culture war targeting indigenous and LGBT rights. After Lula’s release, he heaped scorn on his leftist adversary. “Let’s not give space to compromise with a convict,” Bolsonaro told supporters in Brasilia. “Do not give ammunition to the scoundrel, who is momentarily free but full of guilt.”

Indeed, there’s plenty Lula still has to overcome. “The legal path ahead of Lula, Brazil’s first working-class president, remains treacherous,” wrote my colleague Terrence McCoy and Heloisa Traiano. “He faces eight other trials on charges of corruption and money laundering. In 2016, as part of the Operation Car Wash investigation, Lula was accused of peddling government influence for renovations to his beachfront property.”

Lula was hardly the only official caught up in the dragnet of Operation Car Wash, which implicated others in his own party as well as numerous politicians in factions further to the right in various cases of alleged bribery, graft, and kickbacks for state contracts. His defenders question the specific charges against him and the evidence upon which they are based. Now‚ the country’s byzantine appellate process may mean the proceedings against Lula drag on in the background for many months to come as he works freely to mobilize the Brazilian opposition.

Recent revelations about the apparent secret collaboration between the prosecutors and the chief judge in charge of Operation Car Wash – who now also happens to be Bolsonaro’s justice minister – have further sharpened the impression that Lula was rushed into prison and then barred from running for office to prevent his return to power. The politicization of Lula’s travails has also been brought into stark relief by the myriad controversies spiraling around Bolsonaro, including a troubling new report linking his family to the assassination of a socialist politician in Rio de Janeiro.

Some Brazilian commentators observed this weekend that the former president is emerging from his time in prison a more galvanized and possibly more radical figure, inflamed by a desire to roll back the far-right advance in his country. In his time in office between 2003 and 2010, Lula invested heavily in a slate of social programs that brought millions of people into the Brazilian middle class, a legacy that underscores his vast popularity to this day. Lula’s life story is that of a populist folk hero: He grew up in deep poverty, only learned to read at the age of 10, worked as a factory laborer and, as a union organizer, was hounded and briefly jailed by the country’s military dictatorship – the same junta routinely celebrated by Bolsonaro and his allies.

Latin America has a tangled, sprawling history of left-wing politics clashing against more reactionary forces. Just this weekend in Bolivia, mass protests and then an army and police insurrection compelled long-ruling President Evo Morales to give up a controversial bid to extend his rule. Lula, widely described when in power as a “moderate” leftist, presents an altogether different figure.

He “is the rare politician whose fate concerns a global audience,” wrote Andre Pagliarini, a historian of Latin American politics, pointing to Lula’s record of achieving both social uplift and economic prosperity. Pagliarini added: “It requires no stretch of the imagination . . . to imagine Lula as a bulwark against the reactionary right’s further advance in Brazil and Latin America more broadly.”

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Elderly woman picked up heavy chair, lifted over head…

They arrive with a crucifix, a book of prayers, holy water and a conviction that the Holy Spirit is at their side.

Infrequently summoned for decades, Catholic exorcists say they are now being beckoned across Minnesota and the nation, as pleas from the faithful to “cast out the devil” are on the rise.

“Sometimes they hear voices in their heads,” said Bishop Andrew Cozzens of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. “They have reactions they don’t understand. Fits of rage. Sometimes it’s a depression they just can’t shake and psychologists can’t help.”

Exorcism, often considered a relic of the Dark Ages, is making a 21st-century comeback. Catholic dioceses, including in St. Cloud and Winona-Rochester, say they now are sending their exorcists to a new U.S. institute that trains spiritual warriors. No official data are available, but Catholic leaders say there are more Catholic exorcists in the United States today than at any time in recent memory.

“When I first was appointed as exorcist in 2005, I knew of only a dozen exorcists in the United States,” said the Rev. Vincent Lampert, exorcist of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and one of a handful of American exorcists public about their work. “Today I’d say there are at least 175 — and more each year.”

That’s not to mention the countless faith leaders for charismatic and Pentecostal communities who believe in casting out demons.

But psychologists warn that even well-intentioned treatment of traumatized people can aggravate the situation. They urge individuals to focus on evidence-based interventions.

“There are treatments for trauma supported by strong scientific evidence, but exorcism is not among them,” said University of Minnesota psychology Prof. Patricia Frazier.

The Twin Cities Archdiocese is currently working with “several dozen” people, Cozzens said.

But not everyone who believes they are possessed and requests an exorcism gets one, church leaders say.

The archdiocese exorcist, Cozzens said, collaborates with several professionals to evaluate the situation. The church encourages people to seek medical or mental health help if deemed necessary, the protocol urged by the Vatican. But if the person exhibits what Catholics view as hallmarks of the devil, such as extraordinary strength or speaking in unknown languages, the spiritual battle begins.

Priests trained for combat

Most U.S. exorcists are parish priests tapped for the work, and they shun being identified to avoid unwanted attention. That was the case with two Minnesota exorcists interviewed for this story. Every bishop must appoint someone to the task. Their preparation ranges from training in Rome to mentoring with a local exorcist.

A growing number from Minnesota are heading to the Pope Leo XIII Institute based in Illinois, founded several years ago by Midwestern Catholics to offer intensive courses on the scriptural basis for exorcisms and how to perform them. The exorcists can now use the first English-language version of the medieval Latin exorcism prayers, which became available in 2017.

Lampert belongs to a small group of exorcists who regularly speak and even tweet about the issue. Perhaps because of this, he said he receives 30 to 40 calls a week from “all types of people,” high schoolers to seniors, men and women, bankers to the unemployed, Catholic and not.

He is among the exorcists appointed after Pope John Paul II asked every diocese to designate an exorcist to battle the growing threats from the occult and other practices.

“I’ve seen eyes rolling to the back of the head, foaming at the mouth, people hissing, people speaking in strange voices … ” Lampert said.

He said one elderly woman picked up a heavy chair and lifted it over her head.

“That catches your attention,” he said.

An exorcist recites a special set of prayers over the person, directly addressing the devil and ordering him out in the name of Jesus. He may also recite the Lord’s Prayer, the Hail Mary, read Bible verses, and cast holy water. A typical session lasts about an hour, Lampert said. For others, the battle continues during several visits.

People fearing demons typically start by contacting their priest or diocese. Some believe they are cursed. Some report that their house is haunted. Some can’t shake perverse thoughts.

One woman reported that an angry co-worker carried out an animal sacrifice in her front yard, said Lampert, and asked for a blessing.

The Catholic church ranks what it sees as devil manifestations into several categories, from activity in inanimate objects such as haunted houses to an individual’s full blown “possession.” Clergy and lay people can say prayers to evict the devil in the less serious categories.

Only exorcists are permitted to drive out demons from those considered fully possessed, who have no control over their own actions. Such cases are rare, exorcists said.

“People have different reasons they seek help,” said the St. Cloud Diocese exorcist, a priest at several rural churches. “Unfortunately, there is a lot of depression and mental illness that people want to attribute to the demonic. … But there are some cases where people truly hear voices, see shadows, feel touches, and/or smell odors that have no other explanation.”

The exorcist from the Diocese of Winona-Rochester said he assisted at an exorcism of a young mother who had been consulting with a medium. He believes such experiments opened the door to evil.

“She screamed and her eyes rolled back white,” he recalled.

Cozzens, who is not the archdiocese exorcist but who has attended sessions, said the archdiocese enlists the support of four special prayer teams to pray for individuals it believes have the lesser forms of demonic influence.

“We’ve found in the past 10 years an increased need,” Cozzens said.

Mainline Protestants acknowledge that evil exists, but are likely to attribute much of the world’s evil to human actions rather than demonic possession.

“The devil has many forms, not just the cartoonish guy with the pitchfork and horns,” said the Rev. Angela Khabeb of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Minneapolis.

Why now?

While belief in organized religion has waned in recent decades, belief in the supernatural persists. Gallup and Harris polls show more than 60% of Americans believe in the devil.

What they do with that belief may be one reason for the growing demand for exorcisms, said Catholic leaders, who argue that Americans are looking for answers in all the wrong places — from YouTube videos to Ouija boards to TV series about zombies and Satan.

“People hunger for knowledge and experience of transcendental things such as God, truth, the afterlife,” said the Winona-Rochester diocese exorcist. “They’re looking in areas that are less demanding and more connected to their personal tastes.”

In addition, the range of activities now considered “demonic manifestations” have expanded, driving demand for help, said religious studies professor Joseph Laycock of Texas State University, who teaches a course on demonology.

“I don’t assume there are more demons possessing people today than in the past,” he said.

Laycock also sees competitive market forces at play. The exorcism renaissance is unfolding as other faith groups publicly engage in the practice, he said. That’s particularly true of the charismatic groups that have been attracting disenchanted Catholics.

The Catholic Church on an institutional level is supporting the trend. Pope Francis frequently speaks of the reality of the devil, and has told priests that they “must not hesitate” to refer congregants to an exorcist if they experience “genuine spiritual disturbances.”

For exorcists such as Lampert, the renewed acknowledgment of the devil in the world is important. But that focus is missing the point.

“Exorcists hope that people will focus less on demons,” he said, “and more on God.”

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Nikki Haley Book, Media Blitz Have Republicans Wondering About Her Political Plans…

WASHINGTON—As Nikki Haley embarks on a publicity tour for her new book, allies of President Trump are already wondering what she is going to do next.

Almost a year after she stepped down as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Ms. Haley remains an object of fascination among Mr. Trump’s associates—and she is one of the rare former administration officials who has been able to criticize the president without inviting his fury. In her book, Ms. Haley tempers her disagreements with Mr. Trump and offers a largely positive view of her time in the administration.

Ms. Haley, a former South Carolina governor, says she chafes when people remark on her ambition, pointing to a double standard in which women are criticized for their aspirations. But that hasn’t stemmed speculation that she is laying the groundwork for a 2024 run for president.

Inside the White House, some officials view Ms. Haley with suspicion, according to aides, pointing to her past criticism of Mr. Trump and arguing she used her position as U.N. ambassador to promote herself, instead of the president’s agenda.

Ms. Haley, who didn’t respond to a request for comment, has managed to maintain Mr. Trump’s support, prompting rumors that the president could ditch Vice President

Mike Pence

and instead put her on the ticket heading into the 2020 election. Mr. Trump has repeatedly said he intends to stick with Mr. Pence, and Ms. Haley has said she has no immediate plans to run for office.

On Sunday, Mr. Trump promoted her book on Twitter. “Make sure you order your copy today,” he wrote.

Despite impeachment proceedings, stock market highs, the Syria troop withdrawal, and the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, President Trump’s approval rating remains steady. WSJ’s Gerald F. Seib looks at how Trump’s numbers compare to his predecessors. Photo: Bloomberg News

Ms. Haley, a foreign policy novice prior to joining the Trump administration, was a surprising pick for the position of U.N. ambassador. She was outspoken in her criticism of Mr. Trump during his 2016 campaign—a stance that cost a number of other people top jobs within his administration when he won.

The daughter of immigrants from India, Ms. Haley during the campaign called upon voters to reject “the siren call of the angriest voices” who disrespect immigrants, alluding to Mr. Trump without naming him. Mr. Trump lashed back that ‘‘the people of South Carolina are embarrassed by Nikki Haley.’’

Ms. Haley didn’t wait long after being appointed to the role of U.N. ambassador to break with Mr. Trump’s foreign policy stances. At her first Senate hearing, she accused Russia of being complicit in war crimes in Syria, going against then President-elect Trump’s calls for warmer ties with Moscow.

Months into her term as ambassador, she called out Syria’s President

Bashar Assad,

saying his days of “disregard of humanity are over,” even as Mr. Trump’s top aides said his fate was something for the Syrian people alone to decide.

She also emphasized human rights as a driver of U.S. foreign policy, despite Mr. Trump’s embrace of authoritarian leaders, from Egypt’s

Abdel Fattah Al Sisi,

to Turkey’s

Recep Tayyip Erdogan,

to Russian President

Vladimir Putin.

Yet her relationship with Mr. Trump remains strong, people close to the president said.

When Ms. Haley announced her intention to step down as U.N. ambassador during an Oval Office meeting in October 2018, Mr. Trump heaped praise on her. “She has done an incredible job. She is a fantastic person,” Mr. Trump said. Ms. Haley, in turn, vowed in her resignation letter not to run for president in 2020 and said she would back Mr. Trump.

In a round of interviews this week ahead of the Tuesday release of her book, Ms. Haley repeatedly defended Mr. Trump, saying the House impeachment investigation is misguided and accusing the president’s former advisers of trying to undermine him.

Asked by CBS News if she thinks Mr. Trump will be impeached and removed from office, she said, “No. On what? You’re going to impeach a president for asking a favor that didn’t happen and giving money and it wasn’t withheld.”

In a separate interview with NPR that aired on Monday, Ms. Haley said it is “not a good practice for us ever to ask a foreign country to investigate an American,” referring to Mr. Trump’s request that Ukrainian President

Volodymyr Zelensky

investigate Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President

Joe Biden,

which prompted the House impeachment inquiry. But she said Mr. Trump’s conduct wasn’t impeachable.

Ms. Haley also criticized former White House chief of staff

John Kelly

and former Secretary of State

Rex Tillerson,

who she said tried to recruit her to resist Mr. Trump’s decisions in order to save the country and protect American lives.

Representatives for Mr. Kelly and Mr. Tillerson didn’t respond to requests for comment. A former White House official said Ms. Haley had a tense relationship with both men, especially Mr. Tillerson. Several officials said she frequently bypassed the State Department on policy matters.

Political strategists said Ms. Haley’s praise of the president reflected a calculation that Mr. Trump will remain popular among Republicans, despite the impeachment investigation.

“It seems hard to imagine that sometime in the next four years he’ll turn toxic with the same Republicans that’ll walk on glass for him,” said GOP consultant Alex Conant.

But Ms. Haley’s patience with the president has limits. This summer, she pushed back on a tweet from Mr. Trump, who was engaged in a public spat with

Rep. Elijah Cummings

(D., Md.) about the state of his Baltimore district. Mr. Cummings died in October. “The Baltimore house of Elijah Cummings was robbed. Too bad!” Mr. Trump wrote. Ms. Haley responded, “This is so unnecessary.”

The tweet upset some in the White House. “THIS is so unnecessary,” Kellyanne Conway, the counselor to the president, shot back. “Trump-PENCE2020.”

Write to Andrew Restuccia at and Vivian Salama at

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