A New Hope: Seal Learns To Sing Star Wars Theme

Researchers trained Zola the seal to “sing” the Star Wars theme song.

Courtesy of Amanda Stansbury


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Courtesy of Amanda Stansbury

Researchers at Scotland’s University of St Andrews have coaxed a seal to “sing” the first notes of the Star Wars theme song and “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star”.

In a video released by the university, a gray seal named Zola hears a computer play the first seven notes of the Star Wars theme, and then barks the tune back, stretching the last two notes.


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Amanda Stansbury did the research while earning her Ph.D. at St Andrews under Vincent Janik, the director of the Scottish Oceans Institute.

“What’s new about this research is we taught the seals how to imitate new sounds,” Stansbury said. “We could have played them any song or any combination of notes.”

Stansbury said she worked with three juvenile gray seals: Zola, Janice and Gandalf.

To teach the seals, Stansbury said she first recorded the seals making their natural sounds. Then she played those sounds back to the seals.

“The seals learned that, hey, if I make the same noise back, I’m going to get a fish,” she explained.

Next, Stansbury and Janik used a computer to make small adjustments to the sounds, making the tones higher, and rewarded the seals for matching those new sounds. And then she strung a few of those notes together to play the songs.

“The first time that you hear them actually imitate something recognizable back, it just blows you away,” Stansbury said.

Stansbury is now a zoo area supervisor at the El Paso Zoo in Texas.

She said other animals like birds and dolphins are also capable of vocal learning, but seals are unique because they have vocal chords. That might allow for insight into how mammals learn sounds, and help bring new approaches in human speech therapy.

Stansbury said she would have tried longer melodies if she had more time, but she had to release the seal pups into the wild after a year of research.

“We haven’t fully studied the full extent and maybe how complex of melodies these guys would be capable of learning,” she said.

Certainly, there is more complexity to be mined in the Star Wars theme. Composer John Williams told NPR in 2005 that his music was designed to convey “heroic impulses and feelings and reactions.”

Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars trilogy, tweeted a link to the video of seals singing and wrote, “Another royalty for John Williams.”

Another royalty for John Williams. πŸ‘#StarWarsSingingSeal 🎡 https://t.co/2PD6Jcjl5d

β€” Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) June 21, 2019

“Unfortunately, we don’t have any income coming in from this,” Stansbury said. “The seals might be able to share some of their fish while they’re out there, back in the wild. That’s about the only royalties we’re going to have for John Williams.”

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Ethiopia Army Chief Killed In Attempted Coup, Government Says

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announces on television that an attempted coup occurred over the weekend.

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An attempted coup in Ethiopia has left four officials dead, including the country’s military chief, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office announced on Sunday.

Abiy, the first member of Ethiopia’s Oromo ethnic group to lead the country, took to state television wearing military fatigues. He urged for calm as he addressed the nation about the killings.

The chief of Ethiopia’s armed forces, Gen. Seare Mekonnen, was fatally shot at his home on Saturday night by his bodyguard in the capital of Addis Ababa, he said. A retired general who was visiting Seare was also killed.

The killings came hours after a violent attack rattled Ethiopia’s north. Armed forces tried to take over the regional government of Amhara. The region’s governor, Ambachew Mekonnen, was killed in the city of Bahir Dar during a meeting in his office with his senior adviser.

Seare, the army chief, was planning a response when his bodyguard shot him. The government is now saying it believes the two attacks are linked.

In a statement issued Sunday, Abiy’s office blamed Brig. Gen. Asaminew Tsige for orchestrating the attempted coup. In 2018, he was given amnesty and released from prison, according to the prime minister’s office. He had been working as the head of the Amhara regional government’s Peace and Security Bureau prior to the attack.

In a video that circulated on social media days before the attack, the brigadier general told the Amhara people to grab their weapons, according Reuters.

The U.S. State Department said Saturday it was aware of reports of gunfire in Addis Ababa and advised staff to shelter in place.

A spokesperson for the prime minister, Billene Seyoum, told reporters at a news conference on Sunday that “the situation within the Amhara region is currently under 100% in control.” Several people suspected of involvement in the attacks were taken into custody and more arrest operations were underway.

The attacks represent just the latest violence since Abiy took office last year. In June 2018, he survived a grenade attack at a rally. Months later, hundreds of armed soldiers marched to Abiy’s palace demanding higher pay.

Before he was sworn into office, Abiy promised sweeping reforms to curtail government oppression. Since then, he has ushered in a series of changes that international human rights observers and activists have embraced: releasing thousands of political prisoners, allowing dissidents to return home, removing barriers for political parties, unblocking censored sites and ending a 20-year war with Eritrea. He also named women to half of Ethiopia’s cabinet positions and appointed the country’s first female president.

But the uprising that brought him to power, following large protests over human rights abuses and political inequality, also led to a weakening of federal and state institutions. Long-simmering ethnic tensions have risen outside of the former regime’s authoritarian grip, resulting in violent clashes and widespread displacement. Nearly 3 million new displacements were recorded in 2018, the highest figure in the world, according to Geneva-based organization Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre.

Tibor Nagy, Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of African Affairs, commented on what spurred the attacks. “There are vestiges of the old regime in power,” he told reporters. “Some of the elites are very unhappy with some of the reforms.”

He added that Abiy “has an incredible number of issues he has to deal with.”

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Dave Bartholomew, A Father Of Rock And Roll, Dead At 100

Dave Bartholomew, photographed on January 12, 2013 in New Orleans.

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Dave Bartholomew, the New Orleans trumpeter, songwriter, bandleader, producer and arranger, has died; his son, Don Bartholomew, confirmed the news to NPR. He was 100.

Best known for collaborating on an extraordinary string of hits with Fats Domino between 1949 and 1963 – amassing more than one hundred entries on the pop and R&B charts during that span of time – Bartholomew was one of the primary architects of the sound now known as rock and roll.

David Louis Bartholomew was born on Christmas Eve 1918 in Edgard, La., the seat of St. John the Baptist Parish, located about forty miles northwest of New Orleans proper. Some of the first live music Bartholomew heard came from the bands aboard showboats that docked at Caire’s Landing in Edgard, as they steamed up and down the Mississippi River. But there was plenty of music at home, too: His father, Louis, was a bass and tuba player who performed with jazz clarinetist Willie Humphrey. In the 2016 documentary The Big Beat: Fats Domino and the Birth of Rock n’Roll, Bartholomew recalled gathering with friends and relatives around his neighborhood’s single radio to listen to Louis Armstrong, with whom he’d soon share a formative city, after his father moved the family to New Orleans while Dave was still a child, opening a barbershop in the uptown part of the city.

According to John Broven’s 1974 history Rhythm & Blues in New Orleans, local jazz bands would advertise upcoming gigs by playing on the backs of flatbed trucks that cruised through the streets; young Dave was among the gaggle of neighborhood kids who would trail along after, listening to songs like “Tiger Rag” and “Milneburg Joys.” It was hearing Armstrong’s recordings that made him choose the trumpet as his instrument β€” and in fact, one of his first music teachers was Peter Davis, the band instructor who changed Armstrong’s life by introducing him to the cornet when the young star was incarcerated at the Colored Waif’s Home in 1913. It was a perfect synchronicity: Bartholomew would become as important to the evolution of rock and roll as Armstrong was to jazz.

By time he was a teenager in the ’30s, Dave and his horn were landing gigs playing traditional jazz, in bands led by Oscar “Papa” Celestin and Joe Robichaux. In pianist Fats Pichon’s ensemble, he performed on the riverboat Capitol, riding upriver all the way to St. Paul and back again to New Orleans. It was that gig, he told UPI reporter John Swenson in 1988, at his induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, that taught him how to lead a band; when Pichon took a solo gig in 1941, Bartholomew took over until he was drafted into the Army in 1942, where he learned to write and arrange music in an Army band.

Impresario Lew Chudd was one of the wheeling-and-dealing “record men” who emerged on the new frontier of the independent recording industry after World War II. His Los Angeles-based label, Imperial Records, was only a couple of years old when he caught Dave Bartholomew’s band for the first time at the hot Houston nightspot the Bronze Peacock. It was their sound that inspired Chudd to start looking for rhythm and blues talent in New Orleans to record for Imperial, and in Dave, he found a valuable partner. New Jersey-based DeLuxe Records had been the first of the indies to mine New Orleans for its deep vein of talent after the war; Dave had had a hit recording “Country Boy” for them, and had scouted more likely acts for the label. In 1949, he signed on to do the same for Imperial. One of the very first acts he took Chudd to see, in a Ninth Ward nightclub called the Hideaway, was a promising young pianist called Antoine “Fats” Domino, Jr. Fats and Dave had a hit right out of the gate for Imperial with “The Fat Man,” a reworking of the prewar piano blues “Junker’s Blues.” The record spent three weeks in the top ten of Billboard’s R&B chart, heralding what would be almost 15 years of hitmaking for the pair – and, with its pounding rhythm, a new sound called rock and roll.

“The Fat Man” was recorded in the back of recent Tulane dropout Cosimo Matassa’s J&M Music Shop on Rampart and Dumaine, a jukebox and coin-operated machine business that had gradually morphed into a record store and then a studio. J&M was poised to become ground zero for the evolution of rock and roll, and Dave Bartholomew was no small part of that. His band became the house ensemble at J&M, backing a laundry list of early rock and R&B greats, including Lloyd Price, Earl King, Smiley Lewis, T-Bone Walker, Frankie Ford, Roy Brown and countless others. Members of the studio band backed Little Richard on the piano-pounder’s career-defining 1954 New Orleans sessions for Specialty Records; in Rhythm & Blues in New Orleans, Dr. John opined that “it was the New Orleans sound that got Little Richard across.”

Dave, who also broadcast a radio program out of the record shop for the local station WJMR, served as in-house producer, arranger and writer for J&M, developing a reputation as a tough and exacting taskmaster – while, as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame wrote in its official bio, “shaping the rhythmic orientation of that city into a sound everyone would come to know and love as rock and roll.”

Bartholomew was inducted into the Rock Hall as a non-performer in 1991, five years after his protΓ©gΓ© and partner Fats Domino joined its initial class of honorees. In 2010, the Rock Hall dedicated its annual American Music Masters celebration to both men, the first time it had so acknowledged a creative collaboration of that nature. But the “non-performer” label had stung, Bartholomew told UPI’s Swenson back in ’88 – and perhaps for good reason. His legacy as a musician and bandleader was inextricable from his influence as an architect of American music. In the late ’40s “the Dave Bartholomew Band was the band in the city as far as rhythm and blues was concerned,” sax player Alvin “Red” Tyler explained to Broven.

It’s true that by the time rock and roll was here to stay, Bartholomew was too busy writing and producing to work much with his own horn. “He had reached a level that other people wouldn’t call Dave up and say ‘Hey, man, do you want to make up a session?’ ” Tyler told Broven. “…because he would probably say ‘No, man, I don’t have time.’ ” But the sides he did record for himself in the ’50s were masterful and diverse, from the clattering Caribbean rhythms of “Shrimp and Gumbo” to the goofy novelty “My Ding-A-Ling” (which Chuck Berry unearthed for a 1972 hit) to the singular grinding blues “The Monkey Speaks His Mind,” a strange fable that questions whether humans, with all their sin, are truly superior among the primates, and which showcases his bellowing, stentorian baritone. (Elvis Costello paid tribute to the tune on his 2004 album The Delivery Man, name-checking Bartholomew on the track “Monkey to Man.”)

Ears open and eye perennially on the bottom line, Bartholomew, who appeared in his first rap video – a song called “Born in the Country,” a collaboration with his son, New Orleans hip-hop producer Don B and grandson, the rapper Supa Dezzy – in 2011, stayed up to date on the successes of New Orleans artists well into the 21st century, no matter the genre. During an interview on New Orleans’ community radio station WWOZ in 2008, the DJ attempted to flatter him – misguidedly, as it turned out – by suggesting that the latest generation of local stars, like Lil Wayne, didn’t measure up to the work of Bartholomew’s generation. Listeners could practically hear Bartholomew’s eyes widen in disdain as he informed the jockey that his fellow New Orleanian had sold millions of copies; he knew exactly how many singles the younger artist had on the Billboard charts that very week.

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Meet The Residents Of A Norwegian Island Who Want To Kill Time β€” Literally

A man adjusts his clock during daylight saving time.

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It’s midnight in Sommaroy, but the sun is still shining on this Norwegian island. The clock strikes 12, but the island’s residents are playing, working, fishing and socializing. Nighttime commands sleep, but Sommaroy doesn’t want to listen.

If the 350 residents of Sommaroy get their way, the clocks will stop ticking and the alarms will cease their noise. A campaign to do away with timekeeping on the island has gained momentum as Norway’s parliament considers the petition.

“Why do we need time and clocks when there is no night?” reads the campaign’s Facebook page. During the 69 days following the summer solstice, from May 18 to July 26, darkness never falls across the sky.

“There’s always less wind at night here, perfect to paint the garage. Fishermen are out half the night, after all. If we get tired, we’re fit to go after a nap on the sofa. Why don’t we just sign out of time, throw away all the clocks and forget about them? Life would be so much easier,” the Facebook post continues.

Kjell Ove Hveding spearheaded the No Time campaign and presented his petition to a member of Parliament on June 13. During the endless summer days, islanders meet up at all hours and the conventions of time are meaningless, Hveding says.

He wants to formally eradicate time and boost residents’ flexibility.

“When people in the government of Norway are talking about wintertime and summertime and moving the clock, we have a good laugh up here,” Hveding says.

Sommaroy’s main income relies on tourism and fishing. Becoming the world’s first time-free zone would certainly provide a boon to the island’s tourist allure.

Currently, when visitors cross the bridge into Sommaroy, they see a railing covered in wristwatches. The island is sending a clear message to tourists as it petitions to make “time a thing of the past.”

Unburdened by darkness, Sommaroy has adapted to create new social conventions.

“Now, we make signs for every house in the village,” Hveding says. “Whenever you put out the sign, all people who see the sign can knock on your door and say, ‘I see the sign, I know that we are most welcome,’ and that is the way of living, and we love it.”

Because Sommaroy spends November to January in darkness, residents sleep less in the summer and want to spend their newfound daylight time accordingly.

“We want to spend more time just being alive,” Hveding on behalf of the island’s residents.

Still, Hveding acknowledges that Sommaroy’s situation is unique.

“Here, you don’t need to tell the kids to come in before it gets dark because if you do that you will not see them before August,” Hveding says. “That is a funny way of living.”

NPR’s Peter Breslow and Barbara Campbell produced and edited this story for broadcast.

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Opposition Candidate Wins Again In Rerun Of Istanbul’s Mayoral Election

Ekrem Imamoglu, a mayoral candidate of the secular opposition Republican People’s Party, at a polling station in Istanbul on Sunday. He won the election in March, and won again on Sunday in a new election.

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Istanbul has elected a new mayor in a rerun that is widely being seen as a referendum on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his grip on Turkey after the first mayoral elections were annulled.

Opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoglu, of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), won the race by a slim margin in March. It was the first time Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost control of the city in 25 years.

But Imamoglu spent just 18 days in office.

Erdogan and his party argued that irregularities had marred the voting process. The Supreme Election Council, Turkey’s election authority, nullified the results in May.

The results of the rerun election set Istanbul squarely in the opposition’s hands. Imamoglu received about 53% of the votes while Yildirim collected about 45%, according to unofficial results published in the pro-government Daily Sabah. He reportedly won by more than 700,000 votes.

Imamoglu had faced off for a second time with the AKP’s Binali Yildirim. From 2016 to 2018, Yildirim served as Turkey’s last prime minister. He lobbied for his position to be eliminated in a constitutional referendum that expanded Erdogan’s power.

But on Sunday night, he conceded by congratulating Imamoglu. “We’ll try to help out to Imamoğlu in everything he will do to the benefit of Istanbulites,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Erdogan told reporters, “I think voters will make the best decision for Istanbul.”

The rerun election started Sunday morning and closed at 5 p.m. local time. Polls ahead of the vote showed the opposition ahead.

As residents of Istanbul went back to polling stations to cast their votes, Imamoglu could be seen casting a ballot with his wife. Yildirim hoisted his granddaughter up so that she could drop his ballot into a clear box.

In the weeks leading up to the vote, both candidates took on issues including poverty and employment. Turkey’s economy has contracted despite a decade of growth and economists in the spring predicted a long recession for the country.

“[Imamoglu] is already chosen, and we are doing our duty this time again,” Istanbul resident Saba Sumer told NPR’s Peter Kenyon. She said she believed he would emerge victorious once again, but that the ruling party “can do anything they want, at the moment [that’s what] they think.”

Another voter named Yannis Paisios told Kenyon that Erdogan still controls the city. The opposition is trying to change that, he said. It hopes the “ruling AK Party will get the message that they’re doing something in not quite the right way, and change their ways. Perhaps, this time the message will hit home.”

Istanbul is Turkey’s economic stronghold and its most populated city. It is also the place where Erdogan rose to power as mayor in the 1990s.

Seven members of the Supreme Election Council ruled in favor of an election do-over, while four voted against it. According to the Ahval news site, Turkey’s top administrative court has agreed to consider a legal complaint against those seven Council members.

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Doctors Learn The Nuts And Bolts Of Robotic Surgery

During a training session, Dr. Kenneth Kim and a surgical resident practice a hysterectomy on a robotic simulator at UAB Hospital.

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Across the country, surgeons are learning to use more than just scalpels and forceps. In the past decade, a growing number of medical institutions have invested in the da Vinci robot, the most common device used to perform robot-assisted, or robotic, surgery.

Compared to traditional open surgery, robotic surgery is minimally invasive and recovery time is often shorter, making the technology attractive to patients and doctors. But the da Vinci surgical system is expensive, costing as much as $2 million, and recent studies show that for certain procedures it can sometimes lead to worse long-term outcomes than other types of surgery.

Even so, the robot has become common practice in some specialties, such as urology and gynecology, and that growth is expected to continue, which means more surgeons are learning to use the device.

“It’s not necessarily, ‘Is robot better?’ ” says Dr. Kenneth Kim, director of the robotic training program at UAB Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama. “Robot is just another tool that they need to master just like any other surgical tool.”

But “mastering the robot” can be a challenge.

“It never was an issue because open surgery, like scissors β€” like everyone learns how to use scissors in kindergarten,” Kim says. “Everyone knows, functionally, how to use a knife. But with the robot, it’s a totally different, new tool and it’s more complex, so now that has a separate learning curve.”

The da Vinci robot is not self-operating, at least not yet. Instead, it works almost like a big video game. The surgeon sits at a console station and uses hand and feet controls to manipulate a separate surgical part attached to the patient.

Operating in virtual reality

One way students get comfortable with the device is by operating in virtual reality. At training institutions like UAB, surgical residents use a simulator to complete monthly tasks and practice common procedures.

OBGYN resident Teresa Boitano says the exercises help develop skills that are directly applicable to the operating room. During one of these tasks, Boitano moves the robot arms to precisely place colorful rings onto corresponding spikes.

“And so I’m going now to grab this first ring and at the same time I’m thinking, ‘OK now where do I need to go to get the next one?’ ” Boitano says. “You’re always trying to stay ahead of the game but then also, making sure you’re not doing any errors at the same time.”

If she does make a mistake, the machine will tell her. Kim says the latest simulators come equipped with advanced motion-tracking technology. So while Boitano’s practicing a task or doing a run through a hysterectomy in virtual reality, the simulator records her movement – how accurately she uses the robot arms or how fast she completes the exercise. It provides objective data about surgical performance.

Dr. Khurshid Guru, director of robotic surgery at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in New York, says this simulator technology helps standardize the training process.

“The analogy is that now you don’t have to worry about learning how to drive a car because everybody could get onto the street, they are taught the basic principles of driving a car,” Guru says. “The million-dollar question now is, ‘When would you allow them to get onto the expressway?’ “

Guru says that is the next step, when surgeons specialize in different procedures.

Robot-assisted surgery not for every patient

Dr. Monica Hagan Vetter, of The Ohio State University, has studied robotic training programs across the country. She says using a simulator to measure surgical ability helps ensure surgeons have a certain level of skill before they actually operate on people.

“You can learn the steps of the procedure,” Vetter says, “but if you don’t know how the robot works, if you don’t know how to troubleshoot the robot or what to do in an emergency, then even if you can perform the world’s best hysterectomy and you know all the steps and all the instruments, you are not safe to do that.”

Dr. Kenneth Kim says simulators and the data they provide help streamline the teaching process and offer the opportunity to give students more objective feedback. It is a way for surgeons to learn to use the da Vinci robot as a tool, but Kim says they still have to watch and learn.

“The simulator’s good, but it can only simulate so much,” he says.

In the real world, Kim says robot-assisted surgery is not right for every patient. A surgeon needs to know when to use it and when not to use it, and those decisions can change as researchers continue to study patient outcomes from robotic surgery.

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Bolton Defends Trump’s Canceled Iran Strike: Don’t Mistake Prudence For Weakness

U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton speaks to the media in Jerusalem Sunday.

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U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton on Sunday defended President Trump’s move to order, then cancel a strike on Iran.

“Neither Iran nor any other hostile actor should mistake U.S. prudence and discretion for weakness,” Bolton said. “No one has granted them a hunting license in the Middle East.”

He spoke in Jerusalem alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Bolton said he is in the Middle East for previously scheduled meetings with Israeli and Russian security advisors. And he warned Iran that the U.S. remains a formidable adversary.

“Our military is rebuilt, new and ready to go,” Bolton said.

Bolton is one of Trump’s most hawkish advisors, and he was greeted warmly by Netanyahu. In 2015, the Israeli prime minister waged an aggressive but failed campaign to prevent the Iran nuclear deal from being signed, and cheered Trump’s decision last year to withdraw from the compact. On Sunday, Netanyahu said the U.S.-Israel relationship “reached unprecedented heights under the leadership of President Trump.”

Even as the U.S. refrained from a physical strike on Iran, the U.S. Cyber Command mounted a digital attack against an Iranian spy group that supported attacks on two foreign-owned oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, Yahoo News reported, citing two former intelligence officials.

An oil tanker is on fire in the sea of Oman on June 13, 2019. The U.S. says Iran is behind attacks on two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

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U.S. Cyber Command did not respond to NPR’s request for comment. Heather Babb, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said, “We do not discuss cyberspace operations, intelligence or planning.”

National Security Agency spokesman Greg Julian said in a statement, “There have been serious issues with malicious Iranian cyber actions in the past. In these times of heightened tensions, it is appropriate for everyone to be alert to signs of Iranian aggression in cyberspace and ensure appropriate defenses are in place.”

The reported cyber attack comes as the U.S. takes a more aggressive posture in Internet warfare, NPR has reported. Army Gen. Paul Nakasone, who heads the NSA and Cyber Command, told Congress in March that the U.S. acted abroad to protect U.S. midterm elections last fall.

“For the first time, we sent our cyber warriors abroad,” Nakasone said. “We sent defensive teams forward in November to three different European countries. That’s acting outside of our borders that impose costs against our adversaries.”

Trump has confirmed reports that he canceled a strike on Iran in retaliation for Tehran shooting down an American drone Thursday. He told NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday that the strike plan was in place when he asked the military planners how many casualties it would cause. They reportedly answered that 150 Iranians would be killed.

“And I thought about it for a second and I said, ‘You know what? They shot down an unmanned drone, plane, whatever you want to call it. And here we are sitting with 150 dead people,’ ” Trump said. “And I didn’t like it.”

NPR’s Ron Elving has noted the president’s telling of the timing of his decision is unlikely.

“The president said he called off the attack with just 10 minutes left to go, and he says he did it because 150 lives would be lost. But what had he thought about that before? Did he think he could order airstrikes and produce no casualties? That may be the plotline on a TV reality show, but it’s not the world the real military operates in. It seems more likely he was briefed on casualties much earlier and decided to proceed, and then he changed his mind.”

The current tensions with Iran have escalated since Trump withdrew the U.S. from the nuclear deal President Obama signed with European allies. It lifted sanctions in exchange for Iran agreeing to abandon its nuclear weapons program.

Since then, the U.S. has reapplied sanctions on Iran and pressured European allies to avoid doing business with Tehran or face financial penalties.

Iran appears to be fighting back. Earlier in June, two foreign-owned oil tankers were attacked in the Strait of Hormuz. The U.S. says Iran is to blame, a charge Tehran denies.

Iran has also threatened to increase enriching uranium, in violation of the nuclear agreement, NPR’s Scott Neuman reported.

Trump announced new sanctions on Iran Saturday, which he said were aimed at preventing nuclear weapons development.

“We’re not going to have Iran have a nuclear weapon,” Trump told reporters outside the White House. “And when they agree to that, they are going to have a wealthy country, they’re going to be so happy, and I’m going to be their best friend.”

The endgame of the U.S.-Iran tensions is not clear. Bob Corker, who chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when he was a Republican senator from Tennessee, called for caution. Speaking to NPR’s Michel Martin on All Things Considered, he said,There are numbers of people within the administration, as you know, that would like nothing else other than to get into a kinetic war with Iran. I’m sure that the leadership in Israel right now would love to see that happen. And so, you know, I do think we have to be careful as we move down the road.”

Bolton’s comments in Jerusalem come as he faced withering criticism from Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who accused Bolton of reckless logic in the Middle East.

“The neocons still wield enormous power in Washington. They don’t care what the cost of war with Iran is,” Carlson said. “When Bolton made it to the White House, the neocons cheered.”

Trump defended Bolton, saying he’s doing a good job.

“John Bolton is absolutely a hawk. If it was up to him he’d take on the whole world at one time,” Trump said Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press. “But that doesn’t matter. Because I want both sides.”

NPR’s Daniel Estrin and Greg Myre contributed to this report.

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