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News Wrap: More than 300,000 have made Mediterranean Sea crossing, says UN

In our news wrap Friday, the United Nations refugee agency announced that more than 300,000 refugees and migrants have crossed the Mediterranean Sea to Europe. That number does not include the 2,600 who have died on the journey. Also, a federal appeals court ruled that an NSA surveillance program that collect telephone data of Americans can continue for the next few months.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    The United Nations refugee agency announced a striking figure today: The number of refugees and migrants making the dangerous Mediterranean Sea crossing to reach Europe this year has now passed the 300,000 mark. That's more than 40 percent higher than the record number who made the crossing in all of 2014.

    And that number doesn't include the 2,600 people who have died this year on the journey. We will have an on-the-ground report on this growing crisis right after the news summary.

    A U.S. government program that collects the telephone data of millions of Americans can continue for the next few months. That was the ruling of a panel of federal appeals court judges today that favored the Obama administration's position on the NSA surveillance program. The program expires in November and Congress has passed legislation to replace it with a new program.

    For more on the ruling and what it means, I'm joined by Devlin Barrett of The Wall Street Journal.

    Devlin, welcome.

    So, what was it that the judges were asked to rule on?

  • DEVLIN BARRETT, The Wall Street Journal:

    Well, the — a lower court judge found that the program was almost certainly unconstitutional, and the government appealed that decision.

    What this panel said today was, they reversed that lower court finding, in the sense that they said, look, we're not — we're going to overturn what's called a preliminary injunction. We're not going to let that stand. And we're going to toss the case back to lower court judge.

    And so now that judge has to make some more findings of fact. But what the judges also did, beside just sending it back to the judge, they said they have a lot of skepticism about whether the person who is suing can prove that his phone records were taken as part of this program.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    So what's the practical effect of this? What does this mean for the NSA and whether it can continue this collection of the so-called metadata?

  • DEVLIN BARRETT:

    Right.

    Well, that collection in its current form is only going to continue until the end of November under a law that was passed the summer.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Anyway?

  • DEVLIN BARRETT:

    Right.

    So, to a certain extent, what you're seeing is, the lawyers and judges on each side of this issue in some sense getting their last licks in on this issue before a lot of it becomes moot anyway. But, until then, there are still going to be fights both in courts in New York and in courts in D.C. about whether any of this was ever legal.

    And certainly the privacy groups would love to get a ruling, more rulings that say, no, it wasn't. But, in the meantime, just this week, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court said, yes, this program is still legal and will continue until the end of November, per the law, and it is not a violation.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    So, does the fact, though, that three appellate judges have now held the way they have, does that weigh the scales in one way or the other, do you think, more on whether this collection is constitutional?

  • DEVLIN BARRETT:

    At this point, both sides have a bunch of rulings that they can point to that back up their claims. There is an equally important appeals court decision in New York that says that Congress never intended for the government to ever do this when it passed the law.

    So I think a lot of this is undecided. It will be interesting to see if anyone gets a decisive blow, one last blow in, before the November deadline.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Devlin Barrett of The Wall Street Journal, we thank you.

  • DEVLIN BARRETT:

    Thank you.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Appreciate it.

    Tropical Storm Erika has claimed the lives of four people after barreling through the eastern Caribbean island of Dominica, and that number is expected to rise. It dumped 15 inches of rain there, triggering landslides and flooding. At least 20 people are still missing. The storm is now located south of the Dominican Republic, moving west with maximum sustained winds of 50 miles per hour. It's expected to hit South Florida on Monday, where Governor Rick Scott has already declared a state of emergency.

    GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), Florida: We don't know how much land it's going to go over. We don't know how much water we're going to get. But, clearly, the storm track is continuing to move a little bit west.

    Historically, as you know, in storms and hurricanes, we get more water in the state the more the storm track goes west.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Forecasters do anticipate that Erika will likely weaken to a tropical depression before it reaches Florida.

    Greece swore in a caretaker government today, ahead of next month's national election. The new prime minister, Vassiliki Thanou, is the first woman to run the country. Her temporary cabinet will be responsible for overseeing the implementation of several of the conditions vital to a new financial bailout by the Europeans and the IMF. Alexis Tsipras resigned only seven months into his tenure as prime minister after a revolt from within his radical-left party from those opposed to bailout terms that he agreed to.

    Lawmakers in Japan set new targets for employers to hire and promote more women as managers. The rules are an attempt to close what has long been one of the starkest gender gaps of any developed country. Women currently account for only 11 percent of supervisors in Japan. The new law is effective for the next 10 years and applies to companies with more than 300 employees.

    A former archbishop charged with sexual abuse of children has been found dead before he could stand trial for his alleged crimes. Jozef Wesolowski would have been the highest-ranking Vatican official to come before a tribunal. But he fell ill before the trial's July start date. Already defrocked, he died while under house arrest in Vatican City. Initial findings indicate his death was from natural causes.

    After a volatile week of trading, markets were mixed both in the U.S. and overseas today as a midweek rally faded. On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average lost nearly 12 points to close at 16643. The Nasdaq rose more than 15 points and the S&P 500 added one point. For the week, the Dow gained more than a percent, the Nasdaq rose 2.5 percent and the S&P was up nearly 1 percent.

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