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Evacuations Ordered As Hurricane Swirls Toward Gulf Coast; New Orleans Under State Of Emergency As Hurricane Nears; Nate Prompts State Of Emergency In Biloxi, Mississippi; "Numbers" Found On Note Left In Shooter's Hotel Room; Police Dig For Clues As Motive Remains A Mystery; Trump Deals Major Blow to Obamacare Birth Control Mandate; Exploring the Patagonia. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired October 7, 2017 - 08:00   ET




VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: And the breaking this morning, a new update from the National Hurricane Center on the strength and projected path of Hurricane Nate. This deadly storm has the U.S. gulf coast in its sights and set to make landfall sometime overnight, maybe late tonight or early morning.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Our team of correspondents are standing by in New Orleans, in Mobile, Alabama, both under hurricane warnings already this morning.

We want to go straight to CNN meteorologist, Chad Myers. Chad, what are you learning in this newest report here?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Just in at 8:00 now, 85-mile- per-hour winds found with the hurricane hunter aircraft. I've tweeting about this, showing the radar that the aircraft is finding now, trying to get an eye. We talked about this earlier.

As long as it doesn't have a really good defined eye, it's not going to rapidly intensify. It's trying to get the eye now. It's trying to intensify. The water is insanely warm here, 86 degrees in the water.

So, it's not going to die before it gets to land. The only option it has is to get stronger, but does it have time to get really a lot stronger? That's the good question. From New Orleans to Mobile to Pensacola, that's the hurricane warning.

Anywhere in that zone, you're going to get damaged. This is the storm coming on shore in the next 15 to 16 hours. You're going to have storm surge, maybe 9 feet of storm surge in some spots that had all the surge in Katrina.

Kind of a relatively the same area of surge, but just not as big as the surge of Katrina. Here comes the radar, heavy, heavy rainfall in New Orleans, possible, watch the pumps there.

The heaviest will be Montgomery, New Orleans, back over to Biloxi, Gulfport, that's where the eye likely makes landfall late tonight. So, let's get right to it, somewhere in Plaquemines Parish around 10:00 tonight.

If it misses Plaquemines Parish, that island, that long peninsula that sticks out. If it misses that proper, you won't get landfall there. The landfall will be farther to the north about three hours later somewhere between Biloxi, Gulfport to Dolphin Island to maybe Mobile.

Then it goes right through and to Montgomery, Birmingham and Atlanta. Although it won't be a 90-mile-per-hour storm, we will be knocking down power lines all across this area. Millions of people without power before this is done, even though it's only a Category 1.

Now remember, it only has to get to Category 2 to be 96 miles an hour. We're only 11 from there so that would make even more damage. Montgomery, you're going to get 3 inches of rain. Mobile probably six.

There is something else working here, too, Kentucky, Tennessee, even though you're out of this by far you could also get flooding rainfall from the rain that is ahead of the storm that happens tomorrow.

But very, very heavy rainfall is possible there and in the mountains, 4, 5, 6 inches, of rainfall in a few hours can certainly make some flooding. Right now, the biggest threat is over Cuba, right over Havana.

A significant band of heavy rain has been there hours and hours expecting to hear damage or at least expecting to hear about flooding there.

PAUL: All right. Chad Myers, thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: New Orleans is under a state of emergency and Mayor Mitch Landrieu is ordering a mandatory evacuation for people living in some parts of the city. This morning, President Trump has approved Louisiana's emergency declaration.

Kaylee Hartung is live in New Orleans for us. First, let's start with where these mandatory evacuations are and the preparations as we see Nate get closer and closer to the shore.

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Victor, officials are saying all preparations for the storm must be rushed to completion today. The area with the greatest sense of urgency, though, that would be the land that lies between Lake Pontchartrain and where it empties into the Gulf of Mexico.

We are talking about Lake Catherine, the Venetian Aisle and Irish Bayou. They want people out of there by noon today in large part because they'll be closing floodgates at noon. So, it's time for people in those areas to go.

You know, following Hurricane Katrina, more than $14 billion were spent on a storm defense system. But if you're outside that levy protection, like those areas that I mentioned are, it is time to get out and go -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right. Kaylee Hartung for us there in New Orleans. Thank you very much.

Let's go now to the phones where the lieutenant governor of Louisiana, Billy Nungesser. Mr. Lieutenant Governor, thank you for being with us.

Tell us first from your vantage point, are people heeding these mandatory evacuation orders? You know when you put hurricane and New Orleans in the same sentence, people think Katrina. This is not Latrina, but are they taking heed?

[08:05:09] BILLY NUNGESSER, LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR OF LOUISIANA (via telephone): Well, you know, a Cat 1, people don't get as astute as they should be. We said all along with were preparing for a Cat 2 or 3. It looks like we see -- could see a Cat 2 before it hits land and if it does clip southern Plaquemines Parish where they a have $1 billion in levee still under construction, we could see some major flooding.

So, we are hoping they heed the warning, but they don't really get nervous for a Cat 1, but this one we should take special caution for.

PAUL: Are you confident, Lieutenant Governor, that the city, the state, is prepared to help people who do not follow those evacuation orders?

NUNGESSER: Absolutely. You know, we -- the governor has been calling his team and periodically, we'll be meeting again at 10:30. We're hoping people heed the warning. South Plaquemines Parish called a mandatory evacuation today because it's going to come so close to the tip of Plaquemines Parish.

We are hoping people get out, but we've been through this many times before. We'll be ready to respond with any emergency situation after the storm passes.

BLACKWELL: So, the president has granted that request for an emergency declaration, which frees up some money to prepare for the storm and frees up reimbursement for preparations. Walk through beyond the calls for evacuation for some of those areas between Lake Pontchartrain and where it empties into the gulf. The preparation that's happening for Nate?

NUNGESSER: Well, a lot of people pick up and sand bag their personal properties, but a lot of those areas and homes have been elevated since Katrina, (inaudible). We've been through it so many times.

But the real problem, if they don't evacuate is once the flooding is in there, they will be isolated without power, until the storm has passed and people can get in to rescue them. So, that's why we ask them to get out in those low-lying areas, especially outside of the hurricane protection system.

PAUL: All right. Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser, thank you so much for keeping us updated for what you're doing. Best of luck to you and all the crews there.

All righty. Like Louisiana, Alabama is under a state of emergency as well.

BLACKWELL: All right. CNN's Ryan Young is along the gulf coast in Mobile. Walk us through some of the preparations we're seeing there.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Look, Christi and Victor, the big conversation here is about all of the storms that have been hitting this general area, of course, the United States over the last year.

So, you have people having the conversation openly about what they should do to get ready for the storm. The mayor here says they clean all the storm drains to make sure that water can flow through the area. They're expecting a storm surge of 5 to 9 feet.

Think about this, they're as going to shut down the airport around 4:00 this afternoon. And this port behind me, this beautiful port is going to be shut down at 8:30, 9:00 this morning. There's actually a carnival cruise line known as the "Fantasy" that they left out in the ocean because they want to make sure it doesn't come in during the storm.

So, the real conversation is about how much water will hit this area especially since we are in the dirty side of the storm. They want to make sure that that water doesn't flood this area. The bigger conversation also is the heavy winds and the possibilities of tornado.

So, we've been told by the city officials that they've prepositioned heavy equipment throughout the city to make sure that if anything happens they're able to respond quickly.

As I was talking to some people yesterday, they're like, hey, we don't really think we're going to get hit with heavy flooding but they want to be prepared especially in the downtown area. We've seen the sandbags being put outside of businesses just in case.

I think the conversation is being prepared and that open conversation is happening all throughout the city. Of course, people have seen the storms from other places. They want to make sure it doesn't happen here.

BLACKWELL: All right. Ryan Young for us there. Thank you so much, Ryan. We'll check back with you a little later this hour.

PAUL: Some parts of Mississippi under the state of emergency and on the phone with us now, Vincent Creel. He is the city's public affairs manager. Good morning to you. Thank you so much, Mr. Creel, for being here with us. First and foremost, what is your biggest concern as this storm is heading your way?

VINCENT CREEL, CITY OF BILOXI PUBLIC AFFAIRS MANAGER (via telephone): Well, our biggest concern is that -- you know, we are not accustomed to having storms this late in the season. Typically, August is primetime for us. The first weekend in October, every year, we have a huge event called cruising the coast, where we have tens of thousands of visitors come in, from across the country, we saw this coming.

So, on Wednesday and Thursday, we started giving them a heads-up that the weather may start deteriorating this weekend. You may want to cut your visit short. So last night, we just had thousands of vehicles, 8,200 vehicles from across the county were parading up and down the highway from one end of the Mississippi gulf coast to the other.

[08:10:01] So, we're anticipating that parade is going to be heading out of town this morning and as we move into the afternoon. Additionally, along that beachfront highway in Biloxi, we had over 700 RVs and fifth-wheelers.

We started saying notifying them on Thursday. We had our fire department go out and say to them, welcome to Biloxi. Our beautiful climate also has some issues every now and then and one of them is coming up.

So, we let them know what the conditions are going to be. Our biggest concern was we were talking about people from across the country who may not realize how fast that weather could change. It's been beautiful all week, but we knew what was coming this weekend and now we're there.

BLACKWELL: You make a good point that there are people who come in from out of town that don't know how quickly this weather can change. And also, the people who live there, that once you get past the peak of hurricane season, of course, we saw Irma and Maria and all of the storms that hit this season, there's an exhale from Biloxi. But are people evacuating? Are people taking that seriously, the residents there, and are there any mandatory evacuations?

CREEL: As far as I know, mandatory evacuations have not been issued as of yet. However, I will tell you that Harrison County opened up five shelters lasts night. They announced they're opening at 2:00 this afternoon.

We announced transportation for those who feel vulnerable or who need a ride and want to use one of these shelters. So that is a signal to our residents that, hey, we may be asking you to move if you're in a low-lying area and we have rides available for you for the shelters.

The great thing that happened this year so to speak is that we have these reminders that we saw down in Florida that, we saw with our good friends in Rockport, Texas where we just visited and had people working down there.

These were reminders to people that, hey, Katrina was a while back when it hit us, but look what can still happen this late in the year. So, that's what we're doing. This is not our first rodeo.

We know it's a Category 1, but you want to be vigilant in your preparations. Just a few minute ago, our hurricane warning sirens were sounding throughout the city of Biloxi, reminding people to take this seriously and we think they are.

PAUL: All righty, Public Affairs Manager Vincent Creel, thank you so much for getting us updated on what's going on there and to you as well, we wish you and all of your crews the very best and your citizens. Hopefully, everybody will just ride this out if they have not gotten out yet and everything will be just fine.

BLACKWELL: All right. Let's turn now to Las Vegas and the question why. Will the answer to the question of the killer's motive be found on his mysterious note that was discovered in the hotel suite? CNN's Scott McLean is uncovering details of this investigation -- Scott.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Victor, as you said, police here in Las Vegas continue to search for a motive after Sunday's deadly shooting that killed 58. Ahead, what a note found inside the suspect's hotel room had written on it and how an open door may have helped stop him.



PAUL: In just a few hours, Vice President Pence is going to be in Las Vegas. Of course, he's there to pay his respects to the victims of Sunday's massacre. His visit comes as authorities are still searching for this motive that seems to be so elusive nearly a week after this gunman killed 58 people and more than 500 were injured.

BLACKWELL: Now here's what we know about the investigation. Authorities are analyzing a mysterious note, highlighted there on the screen. This was left behind in the gunman's suite.

We're also learning that Stephen Paddock tried to buy tracer ammunition, bullets with pyrotechnic charge at gun shows. It shows the path of a bullet when shot in the dark. Plus, these new pictures from the killer's hotel suite show the arsenal of weapons and new details on the explosives found in his car.

PAUL: CNN's Scott McLean is live in Las Vegas. He's following the latest on this investigation. Are we any closer to learning why? There have been so many leads, they say, but is anything leading them to what they really want in terms of a motive here.

MCLEAN: Yes, so, Christi, police here have gotten more than 1,000 tips, but the shooter didn't leave behind a whole lot of clues as to his motive. As you mention, one of the things that he did leave was a note. Not a suicide note, not a manifesto, but a piece of paper inside his hotel suite with a series of numbers on it.

Police are currently analyzing that to figure out any sort of meaning from those numbers. We know that Stephen Paddock, the suspect was able to shoot down on the concertgoers for about 10 minutes before he was confronted by a security guard.

We're learning that security guard ended you on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel because an open door on that floor set off an alarm that led him there. That security guard, Jesus Campos, ended up getting shot in the leg. He's widely credited with distracting the suspect and potentially saving many, many lives. Now police believe that Paddock did act alone. But what they cannot be sure of is whether any type of help, or someone who at least knew of the plot beforehand. They've gone through hours and hours of security footage from the hotel inside and out.

They haven't found any evidence that he had help so far. We also know, as you mentioned, that Paddock tried to buy that tracer ammunition at a gun show in Phoenix. He wasn't able to because they didn't have any in stock.

The advantage of that is that he would be able to see where his bullets were landing. The disadvantage is that potentially, police would also be able to see where those shots were coming from.

[08:20:03] His girlfriend, former girlfriend, Marilou Danley, is cooperating with police, and one other thing to point out, Christi and Victor, is that Vice President Mike Pence will be here in Las Vegas in just a couple hours from now to take part in a unity prayer walk. He's also expected to speak at Las Vegas City Hall.

PAUL: All right. Scott McLean, thank you so much for the update.

BLACKWELL: Let's bring back now CNN law enforcement analyst and retired FBI supervisor and special agent, James Gagliano. James, back to you, the first question of how meticulous this plan was. There are so many who have said that this was -- in the estimation of at least one expert, beyond meticulous.

But when we read that there were 50 pounds of explosive powders in the car but not in IED form. That he had an escape plan, but he also had 23 guns and all of the ammunition needed. Do you see -- what's your assessment, that this was a meticulous plan?

JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I do think it was meticulous, but again, Victor, as we spoke about an hour ago, we're trying to apply normal people standards to a psychopath and we're trying to figure out what sense does this make when none of this makes sense.

I want to go back to, I believe it was about three hours after the initial shots rang out, by the time it had been resolved so to speak. That the sheriff first made his initial statements on this.

His words were very pressing. He said this is going to be a protracted investigation. Just think about the volume of leads. I know the number of 1,000 was thrown out there. I think 1,000 is at the bottom end of the spectrum of what type of leads had been generated.

We know that the shooter and his girlfriend traveled on a number of cruises together. He was on 20. She was on nine with him. We know that she traveled to a bunch of different ports of call in her own and obviously was sent back home to the Philippines.

And we know that there's not a square inch of the Las Vegas strip and the week that we know that he was there in the hotel and his movements that is not going to be covered by a video camera. There's not some type of digital exhaust that we're able to pick up.

This investigation is just going to continue to build out. The frustrating part as you alluded to before, the motive and trying to get to that. I think in the next couple of days we'll get a better picture of that.

BLACKWELL: In the discussion of this protracted investigation, investigators are now saying that they're going to rent billboards and put the shooter's face on them, kind of a "if you saw something, say something" approach.

As we get now almost a week from the attack and further and further away, how quickly do those avenues, those options of leads, the credible ones at least, dry up?

GAGLIANO: Well, the big problem is, as you just pointed out, is the fact there's so few critical leads in any criminal investigation. There are lots of noise and distractions. It's not that people are trying to cause you difficulty in the investigation.

People are generally speaking that the public is earnest and ernst while in trying to get leads, but a lot of them don't go anywhere but they all have to be run down. I can speak from personal experience, on the clear channel billboards that you referenced there, that they made mentioned of.

I think it was the FBI special agent in charge (inaudible) out in Las Vegas. When I ran an upstate New York FBI officer a couple of years ago, we had a couple of fugitives after a big gang arrest.

We were able to use the clear channel billboards down in Times Square and we had some fugitives that were North Carolina. Word got back to them through their family that they were on the big screen in Times Square and it was enough to compel them to reach out to us. So, a very, very good and effective tool. I think it's the right approach to take.

BLACKWELL: All right. James Gagliano, always good to have your insight.

GAGLIANO: Thank you, Victor.


PAUL: So, Hurricane Nate is barreling toward the gulf coast. It has intensified in the last few hours. Landfall expected sometime late tonight. We'll give you an update.

BLACKWELL: Kaylee Hartung is live this morning in New Orleans as it braces for Hurricane Nate.

HARTUNG: The mayor of New Orleans said none of the city's preparations will matter if citizens don't do their part. Coming up, we'll tell you how the city and its people are preparing for this fast-moving storm.



PAUL: So grateful to have your company here, 8:28 is the time. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good morning to you. Nate is rolling towards the gulf coast and it's a Category 1 hurricane. President Trump has approved a state of emergency request for Louisiana. The storm is expected to make landfall either late tonight or early Sunday.

PAUL: CNN's meteorologist, Chad Myers, is live from the weather center right now. So, what is the trajectory here specifically so folks know?

MYERS: You said roaring towards the gulf and it is 22 miles per hour. That is a quick clip. That's also some good news because it's not going to spend a lot of time in the warm water of the Gulf of Mexico.

But bad news, as it tries to push a storm surge onto the gulf coast. Dr. Michael Brennan joins me now from the National Hurricane Center, senior hurricane specialist. Doctor, as you look at the hurricane this morning, at surge potential, any surprises for you right now?

MICHAEL BRENNAN, CHIEF HURRICANE SPECIALIST, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER: Well, we're continuing to see Nate strengthen. Winds at 85 miles per hour. Additional strengthening, we could see Nate high into Category 1 or 2 intensity before landfall. But as you mentioned, we are very concerned about that storm surge potential especially from the Mississippi River to Alabama/Florida border where we could see 5 to 9 feet of storm surge inundation in these storm surge warning areas.

That's places like Gulfport, Biloxi, Mobile Bay and Southeastern Louisiana.


That's a life-threatening storm surge there. So anybody in those areas they've been asked to evacuate, really encourage them to do so today while you still have time.

MYERS: We also are seeing the wind gusts potential here in the Biloxi. All the way up even into Montgomery as either a hurricane or a very strong tropical storm, knocking down significantly power lines here.

What about the power outages from this, all the way even up to Atlanta?

BRENNAN: Yes. Yes. As Nate moves inland, you know, it's going to be moving very quickly so it's going to weaken. But the forward motion is going to be fast enough, we're still expecting to see tropical storm conditions well up here into the interior warnings, in portions of Alabama, north west Georgia, so we could see gusty winds, trees, power line problems extending inland for a couple of hundred miles away from the Gulf Coast.

MYERS: One more thing the Kentucky-Tennessee area ahead of the storm, I'm seeing a significant potential for flash flooding there, although it's not even near the eye, nowhere near the Gulf of Mexico that moisture is going to be pushed into those states. What are you projecting for the amount of rainfall potential there?

BRENNAN: Well, as we go into the Deep South, we're looking at rainfall amounts of like three to six inches, isolated 10. We could have slightly lower amounts overall, more like, you know, two to five inches up here into the southern Appalachians. But those areas are a lot more susceptible to flash flooding because of the topography.

MYERS: Right.

BRENNAN: And you're right, that rain can occur well out in advance of the center.

MYERS: Well in advance. And people don't expect it, and all of a sudden, you have six inches in four hours. And flash flooding in places that are hundreds of miles away from landfall.

Doctor, thank you very much. I know you're a busy guy today. We'll keep you updated what we're doing here. You please let us know what you're doing there.

The surprises we may see today, Victor, really are going to be whether this eye wall truly closes, can we get rapid intensification from here? Right now, so far, so good -- no. We were 70, 75, 80, over the 12-hour period. That's not considered rapid intensification.

It seems that if you're in the path of this, but we could have been looking at if the eye would have developed overnight, somewhere bigger than 100-mile-per-hour storm right now. We don't see that right now. Hurricane hunter in there and we'll keep watching.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: So, quickly, Chad, we just got the last advisory. When is the next one?

MYERS: It'll be at 11:00, and then we'll go every two hours after that. The new 11:00 we'll have a new projected path. Truly, the path is pretty much set. Now will it hit Plaquemines Parish, that's I guess the question that we don't really, really know here.

Here, I'm going to zoom in. I'm going to drill down to as close as I can. Here's Plaquemines Parish. It's the Mississippi River all the way down from New Orleans. New Orleans is not on the Gulf of Mexico. It's 60 miles inland. But there's not much land there, inland. There's not much inland there. That's Plaquemines Parish, that's not going to slow it down at all.

Then you get over towards St. Bernard Parish and then finally making landfall somewhere in the cone. Now the cone is all the way from above Dolphin Island, all the way back over to Slidell, we can't lose our focus on the cone even though it's moving right in one direction. But this is the are that the storm surge is going to be the most prevalent.

Nine feet of surge and then maybe waves of 10 feet on top of that. Now that isn't Katrina but it's in the same exact place that Katrina was, Bay St. Louis, Pass Christian, Biloxi, Gulfport, Mobile Bay.

PAUL: Yes, no doubt about it. OK. Chad, so glad that you're walking us through it. Thank you.

MYERS: You're welcome.

BLACKWELL: Religious liberty on the job versus female reproductive needs. That's the way that some people are framing this conversation. The Trump administration rolls back a key Obamacare mandate for birth control. What it means for the individual and for the employer, next.


[08:38:03] BLACKWELL: A change in the Obamacare mandate for covering birth control could mean that an employer may no longer pay for it.

PAUL: The Trump administration decided employers may now have more leeway to withhold those medications based on religious grounds. Now the rules were issued yesterday by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Several groups say they do plan to file legal challenges. The ACLU has already filed suit, we should point.

Let's bring in our political panel, Jason Miller, CNN's legal commentator and former senior communications adviser for the Trump campaign, and Maria Cardona, CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist.

Good to have both of you here.


PAUL: Real quickly I want to get to something that has just been happening over the last couple of minutes. President Trump just tweeted this, "I called Chuck Schumer yesterday to see if the Dems want to do a great health care bill. Obamacare is badly broken, big premiums. Who knows?"

Now wanted to tie that real quickly to what he said back in July when this was voted down. Let's watch.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've been saying for a long time, let Obamacare fail and then everybody's going to have to come together and fix it. And come up with a new plan and a plan that's really good for the people with much lower premiums, much lower for us, and much better protection.

I've been saying that. Mike, as you'll agree, for a long time, let Obamacare fail. It will be a lot easier. And I think we're probably in that position where we'll just let Obamacare care fail. We're not going to own it. I'm not going to own it. I can tell you the Republicans are not going to own it.

We'll let Obamacare fail and then Democrats are going to come to us and they're going to say, how do we fix it? How do we fix it? Or how do we come up with a new plan? So we'll see what happens.


PAUL: Jason Miller, he said they'll come to us but he just tweeted that he called Chuck Schumer. You say what?

JASON MILLER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think this is a win- win for President Trump here for a couple of reasons. Number one, we can't just let Obamacare fail and have the entire health care system spiral out of control.

[08:40:03] I mean this is a system we're having to prop up with billions and billions of dollars every single year. But I think also what President Trump is doing here is lighting a fire under Republicans who think that now we can just completely ignore failing Obamacare and never have to come back to us with a subtle reminder to politicians on the Hill, they still have to come up with a solution because it's unsustainable with where the program is at right now.

PAUL: So, wait a minute, you're saying that he called chuck Schumer in order to light a fire under Republicans?

MILLER: I think that could possibly be one of the reasons. And again, regardless of which answer it is, whether it is to come up with a solution of working with the Democrats and reaching across party lines or if it's a way to light a fire under Republicans who should have had a plan ready to go, as soon as the president was elected. I mean, it's complete malpractice they didn't have this ready. Either way it's a smart strategy from the president. I love it and I think it's a good way to light the fire.

PAUL: Maria?

CARDONA: I actually agree with Jason. And I'm glad that he understands that we can't let Obamacare fail because that will mean that millions and millions of Americans' healthcare will be available and not be accessible and the Trump administration will absolutely own it. So I'm glad that Trump is understanding that he was wrong in the clip that you just played. That they cannot let Obamacare fail. I hope Republicans come to the table and work with Democrats on fixing the Affordable Care Act.

But what's interesting is that even though Republicans are saying -- some Republicans -- that they don't want to let Obamacare fail, they're doing everything in their power right now with what they can with executive orders to roll back all of the protections in the provisions. And yesterday's egregious rollback of the birth control mandate for Obamacare is one of those pieces of making sure that Obamacare actually does fail. PAUL: OK. So Vinita Gupta, a top civil rights lawyer, wrote this.

"The freedom of religion is a fundamental right but it is not an absolute right. It cannot be used as a shield to permit discrimination against LGBTQ Americans just as federal courts a half century ago denied the ability of businesses and employers to use their religious beliefs as a basis to discriminate against African- Americans" -- Jason.

MILLER: Well, I think the whole argument here that we're talking about is not religious liberty. And these images of the Obama administration attacking the Little Sisters of the Poor is a big part of the reason why Hillary Clinton lost the election last November. I mean, you think about these critical swing states like Pennsylvania, in Michigan and Ohio, states with large Catholic communities.

This constant reminder that the federal government was essentially running this anti-Catholic Church campaign against these groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor really was something that helped fire up voters and turn them out against Hillary Clinton and for Donald Trump. So again, I think the whole media narrative here is completely missing the point that this is about religious liberty. This will impact somewhere between 50 and 200 companies. And I think it's completely overblown and it's something that the left, the political left, wants to go and try to use as a scare tactic against people across the country and quite frankly I don't think it's going to work.

PAUL: Maria, is it overblown?

CARDONA: Absolutely not. The religious liberty excuse is a ruse for them to take away the women's right to control their health care and to control their reproductive destinies. There's no question about that. There was already an exception in the Obamacare birth control mandate for religious institutions and religious organizations.

What Trump did yesterday was open the door for any employer to use the excuse of religious freedom to take away protections for women across the country to be able to buy -- to be able to access health care.

Health care access in the last five years has been the number one issue that has controlled unwanted pregnancies. That has -- that has decreased the number of abortions. And I would think our Republican friends who say they are pro-life would want that. It is shameful and I hope that American women across the country are not going to go for it.

PAUL: I'm sorry that we have run out of time.

Jason Miller, Maria Cardona, I appreciate you both being here. Thank you for your input as always.

CARDONA: Thanks so much.

BLACKWELL: Well, tonight on a new season of "THE WONDER LIST" an American couple starts buying up land in Patagonia. Stretching over Argentina. It makes the locals nervous until they find out their plans for that land. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL WEIR, CNN HOST: The most agile and intelligent big cat --


[08:48:54] PAUL: CNN is kicking off tonight a new season of "THE WONDER LIST" with Bill Weir.

BLACKWELL: First up the story of a couple who changed South America forever by giving away millions of acres in Patagonia. Watch some portion of the episode.


WEIR: This amazing place is home to the smallest deer on the planet. The little pudo. The most agile and intelligent big cat, the puma. There are over a thousand different kinds of moss. Countless ferns. Big trees that were alive a thousand years before Christ walked the earth.

All of which appealed to a certain tree-hugger from back east. An adventure lover. Adrenaline junkie. Big river rafter, big mountain skier and big moneymaker by the name of Douglas Tompkins.

He dropped out of high school, went west to climb Yosemite Rocks and fell with a group called the Fun Hogs. Summer '68 they climbed into a van in San Francisco, surfed, climbed, skid, kayaked their way all the way to Patagonia.


[08:50:11] BLACKWELL: Bill Weir is with us now.

Bill, a beautiful corner of the globe. And that's the point. That's the point of the purchase, right?

WEIR: Exactly. Exactly. So Doug, after that adventure, he gets frustrated that he can't find good climber gear, a decent sleeping bag, so he starts a company called the North Face. And his best friend starts a company called Patagonia. They're millionaires by the time they're in their 30s. But it doesn't satisfy them and they really believe that we're running out of planet the way we're consuming.

So they started -- they sold their money, or sold their art collections, cashed in their stocks and started buying huge chunks of land. And the locals in Chile were hugely suspicious. I mean, imagine that someone from China or Russia decided to buy South Dakota, and take the farms out and put in wild animals and try to preserve it.

So there are all these conspiracy theories and years of neighborly fights. A love story is at the center of this tale. But really big questions about the best places left on this planet and how he saved them.

PAUL: Oh, my goodness, and it looks so beautiful. But I have to ask real quickly what struck you most when you walked away from it?

WEIR: Just that there still are incredibly wild places, where gauchos and just a few cowboys live up in the mountains and how valuables those wild places are for all of us. Even those who live far away. The -- you know, the ecosystem of this planet is incredibly connected and complex. So all of our little decisions add up to big consequences in places like that. But this is a gorgeous trip to a place if you ever wanted to go. We'll take you there tonight.

PAUL: I'm going to see the trees.

BLACKWELL: Yes, yes.

PAUL: The trees that are that old, they were just huge and gorgeous.

BLACKWELL: Bill, thanks so much. We're looking forward to the premiere of season three, tonight, 9:00 Eastern right here on CNN.

PAUL: Thank you, Bill.

WEIR: Thanks, guys.

PAUL: You know, some people spend too much time on their smartphones, right? Well, there's one company helping who's folks get off the phone but stay connected in this week's "Start Small, Think Big."


KAIWEI TANG, FOUNDER, LIGHT PHONE: Where you put your attention is who you are.


TANG: Hey, I'm Kai.

HOLLIER: We're building the Light Phone. The Light Phone is a stand- alone cell phone. It actually only makes phone calls and it stores 10 speed dials and is intentionally designed to be used as little as possible. We call that going light. There's no text message, no apps, no e-mail, no Internet. The Light Phone actually maintains your same phone number as a seamless extension of your smartphone.

It's less about what the phone can do feature-wise but more about what it allows to do as humans when we're untethered from the Internet.

TANG: We started Light Phone three years. We already shipped 11,000 Light Phone globally and we're now trying to scale it off and share Light Phone with as many people as we can.

HOLLIER: So Light Phone comes packaged in a hard cover book of photographs to remind the user that the Light Phone is about the experience of going light, not necessarily the object itself.

TANG: We wanted to encourage people to take a break and enjoy what we already have in life. We have so much in front of us. We don't really need all of that information coming at us all the time. So sometimes you could be in the present and experience time when it happens.


BLACKWELL: Let's push forward on the breaking news this morning, Hurricane Nate roaring toward the Gulf Coast as a category 1 hurricane right now.

PAUL: Yes. Meteorologist Chad Myers tracking the storm.

Good morning, Chad. What are you learning this hour?

MYERS: Good morning, guys. You know, some very warm water were just brought over the top of this warmest water in the Gulf of Mexico right now 85 miles per hour. This morning, when we woke up, it was 75 then 80, now 85. And eventually today get even 90. And maybe 96. That would make it a category two.

Landfall somewhere east of New Orleans, likely. Biloxi, Gulfport. Here's some pictures from golf shores. Alabama, some very rough surf already there. Stay out of the water today. Rip currents everywhere out there today, need to be away and safe from this. It will be gone by tomorrow. This is a quick-moving storm. But it will be a rough day at the surf today.

If you're in the red zone, you're going to see damage. This is the hurricane warning zone. This is the area that's going to see winds of 75 or more. Some spots will pick up 100-mile-per-hour gusts, no question. So what does it mean right now? What are we looking at?

Here's the storm itself. It's a category 1 storm. It is 85 miles per hour, but it has wind gusts to 100. And even some of our weather models today saying that we could see wind gusts somewhere around 115, around Biloxi, Gulfport, somewhere along that Bay St. Louis area, toward Pass Christian. That is going to kind of the landfall area.

Now don't take your eye off the ball if you're east to west of that by 70 or 80 miles, you're still going to see significant damage with wind, maybe a little bit of rain and some surge. The biggest surge we see today is about nine feet. That's nine feet above seawater.

[08:55:06] But where you're seeing the water right now, it'll be nine feet higher. And it's moving very, very quickly. It's moving at 22 miles per hour. We haven't had a storm move that fast ever this year. Harvey moved like at two. This is 22. And so we are going to see that landfall, with the surge pushing the water due to that wind. Also a lot of power lines down with the wind as well as it pushes into Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi, and the like.

PAUL: Yes. Watching that. And when you say 22 miles an hour you see it moving up then, all the way up to New York by the time it's all over.


PAUL: No wonder. We'll talk more about that in the next hour.

Chad Myers, we appreciate it so much. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: And we'll see you back here at 10:00 Eastern for an hour of CNN NEWSROOM.

PAUL: Yes. Don't go anywhere, "SMERCONISH" is up after the short break.