politics are part of the problem. less clear if that will change soon. >> many more stories for you any time on our website, the address is aljazeera.com. details there of our top story, isil capturing the syrian city of palmyra. a state of emergency in california. workers are doing everything they can to clean up an oil spill along the coast. the u.s. and cuba sit down again trying to hammer out their differences over reopening embassies and washington and havana. plus isil takes control of a strategic ancient city in syria. now the u.s. is sending more weapons to help in the fight. ♪
this is al jazeera america live from new york city. i'm randall pinkston. parts of california's coast line are closed today after a big oil spill. crews are combing the shoreline west of santa barbara. upwards of 105,000 gallons leaked when a pipeline ruptures on shore. jake ward joining us live. what is the latest on the cleanup effort there? >> reporter: randall here on the third day after the spill there is a sort of smell of petroleum product in the air. to look across the scene is quite tragic. there is oil speckling basically every rock and you can see the cleanup boats out on the horizon
trying to contain which is now a spill that is spreading from beyond 12 square miles here. it is really just a tragic scene. there are 300 or more contract workers behind me wearing special suits, using special equipment to try to clean this beach by hand. it's really painstaking work and local officials are trying to warn away volunteers not just for the wildlife that can be hurt by well-meaning people but can be hurt by the oil. this is the migratory season for the iconic marine mammals that swim up and down this coast. all are moving to their feeding areas for the summer and they come right through here. they are literally swimming right through what is in the ocean right now. and this is the eve of memorial
day weekend. so we are really just seeing an unfolding tragedy, one that is not clear how they are going to contain going forward. >> jacob do you have any idea how far out into the ocean the oil has spread. >> reporter: the estimate is it is about 12 square miles and it will continue to spread beyond that. this is simply the nature of a spill into the ocean. it does not seem as if there is an active spill from the company. the problem is that oil has made its way into the surrounding landscape three-quarters more is out in the landscape, and that means it will slowly make its way into the ocean and the aquifers in the area. >> i understand they are going
to be digging the pipeline up what are they trying to determine by digging it up and what do we know about the pipeline? >> the pipeline is inspected from the air every week. it last big inspection was two weeks ago. although the company has not made public the results of that inspection. digging it up to see if there were problems in the welding. pipeline maintenance is the great difficulty of running an oil company. so trying to see what went wrong, that will certainly be the question. the horizon is dotted by oil rigs. it's something that people don't really understand about this coastline as beautiful, sort of unspoiled as it is when you are standing on the beach, oil has a huge presence here in this part of california and certainly it is clear that this was just a tiny fraction of the huge amount of oil that moves on shore and
off of this particular area of santa barbara. >> jake ward we'll be looking for your update. thank you. the u.s. and cuba are at the negotiating table again in an attempt to restore diplomatic ties. the discussions are focused on reopening embassies in washington and havana. one state department official says the two sides are closer than they have ever been now that president obama has moved to stake the nation off of the list of state sponsors of terrorism. airlines are adding direct flights between the two countries and as usher reports from havana american tourists are already flocking to cuba. ♪ ♪ >> reporter: for cubans and u.s. citizens alike, there is little doubt tourism would benefit from
normalized relations between the two countries. >> it is fantastic. the history here is unbelievable. absolutely unbelievable. >> reporter: cuba has long been a destination for travelers from europe and canada and international tourism here is big business a select few u.s. tour companies are licensed to operate here. >> cuba is an enigma. for us in the industry, it's a phenomenal destination. it's like an answer to prayer for the -- the real traveler the person who longs to discover places in the world that are different and unique. >> reporter: michael and his friend have been giving tours in this classic 1948 chrysler car for the last year. >> i think it's going to be good. we are only 90 miles from the united states and we receive very quickly a lot of tourism
people here, and i think it's going to be a success. >> reporter: tonight we'll have more on how cubans are preparing for a potential tourist influx from the u.s. and some of the hurdles still left to tackle. and you can watch usher's full report at 8:00 eastern tonight. the senate has voted to move ahead on president obama's request to negotiate trade bills. it was 62 in favor, 38 against. the bill would give the president the ability to negotiate bills with an expedited review by the senate. but the measure must still clear the house. isil is inching ever closer to syria's capitol damascus. overnight it took control of palmyra. their worry is the group may destroy priceless artifacts there. caroline malone reports. >> reporter: this appears to be
the final stages of fighting for a city at the heart of syria. [ explosion ] >> reporter: isil fighters push syrian government forces out of palmyra. they are now in control of the city's infrastructure including the national hospital and security headquarters. and of course thousands of people. >> translator: there are about 140,000 people here, including some displaced from homs. people are afraid. there's no water. we can only use local wells, and there's no power most of the time. >> reporter: palmyra is surrounded by gas fields and home to a prison. there is also a military airport, and weapons depot. >> the military significance is mostly in terms of the prison. the human cost in terms of the refugees and dead has been huge but the cultural loss has been
incalculatable. >> reporter: it has price les artifacts. some of them were bundled up and taken out of the city according to activists, but much of the site remains at risk. >> we may have different beliefs. we may have different views, but we have to protect such incredible vestiges of human history. and i would appeal indeed that destroying heritage will not achieve anything. >> reporter: fighting between rebels and government forces has already damaged parts of this site. the u.n. says it has been used as a syrian military camp. activists released a video, they say shows the ancient walls covered in bullet holes. it is seen by many as the cradle of civilization. so much of the past has been preserved here but it's future is uncertain. caroline malone al jazeera. the obama administration
plans to send 1,000 shoulder fire missiles to iraq for the fight against isil. the shipments of the rockets were accelerated. they are expected to arrive early next month. the rockets are intended to combat the types of suicide bombs they used in ramadi. ramadi is the capitol of the anbar province and fell into isil hands earlier this week. the military was not able to handle isil's on slot there. it is now looking for volunteers to help fight the group. [ explosion ] >> reporter: there is a new front line in anbar province. in the east of ramadi there is a fierce fight. isil has taken some towns in the district. forces loyal to the government are trying to prevent the armed group from getting closer to a main base a few kilometers away.
islamic state of iraq and the levant hasn't lost its momentum. just days after seizing the provincial capitol, ramadi. there are those who believe the armed group may not just want to grab territory. it wants to drain the resources of its opponents. >> does isil want to settle or to be a moved group? this is the idea of to be a moving combat or let's say a moving group, is that you are always threatening so many fronts especially when the defensive military forces are not equipped and not ready. >> reporter: shia militia commanders are moving some troops from the front lines across iraq towards anbar. this is part of ongoing preparations for the promised counter offensive. these men are known as the popular mobilization force, and they will lead the fight in the sunni province.
they were called in after the regular forces and anbar's local police were not able to hold off the isil assault. there is a shortage of government soldiers in anbar, and authorities are now asking for volunteers to join. the prime minister also says that they will seed up the training of the local police and arm and recruit sunni tribesmen. it is not the first time he makes such a promise to integrate sunnis into the security forces. many are skeptical that this plan will work especially because there has been long-time opposition from shia politicians. on anbar's front lines, shia militiamen are seen fighting alongside the local police and army soldiers. the government has been trying to show this fight is being waged by iraqis and is not a shia war against anbar sunnis. there is a need to create a
non-sectarian army in iraq. the country is at a dangerous cross road and with multiple front lines, iraqis need to unite now more than ever. zana hoda, al jazeera, baghdad. voting on same-sex marriage. coming up as ireland prepares to cast ballots on a referendum we hear from the u.s. citizen behind the effort to make same-sex marriage legal there.
160 people tested positive for hiv in the area since december. state officials tie the outbreak to drug users sharing needles. mcdonald's workers are back on the streets, demanding better wages ahead of today's shareholder meeting. they want a $15 minimum wage at all franchises. earlier this year mcdonald's started providing pay raises to $1 above the local minimum, but only at company-owned stores. officials have pointed to income inequality as a catalyst for the violence that hit baltimore last month. but many also say the city has been devastated by the war on drugs, as "america tonight" adam may reports a new state law in maryland aims to undo some of that damage. >> i was pulled over.
the officer told me to step out of the week put me in handcuffs, and then told me that my vehicle reeked of marijuana. >> did you have a lot? >> about two grams. >> reporter: that is no longer an arrestable offense in maryland. in 2014 state lawmakers decriminalized anything less than 10 grams. how did that arrest affect your dream of becoming a teacher? >> well unfortunately i was deemed ineligible to volunteer or work in baltimore city public school system. >> america's public enemy number 1 in the united states is drug abuse. >> reporter: since president nixon declared a war on drugs in 1971 any department of justice
estimates it has cost taxpayers $215 billion a year. that's well over a trillion dollars. but now that 15 states have decriminalized having small amounts of marijuana, and other four states plus the district of columbia have legalized it many are left still paying a price for an offense that is no longer a crime. >> the second chance act of 2015. >> reporter: the governor just took a step towards solving the problem. he signed the second chance act into law, shielding criminal records is controversial. this delegate is a former police officer. he combed through arrest records to test second chance. >> so this business owner is going to talk to this person and say, hey, have you ever been convicted of a crime. they are going to say yes, one time. but in reality he had 24
convictions on his record. >> reporter: how would you describe the war on drugs? >> i would describe it as a war on black people. >> reporter: denied the teacher profession she dreamed of because of her drug conviction, brown is now leading a group called out of justice, lobbying on behalf of ex-offenders like herself. >> i know there are a group of people that need someone that understands their issues and that are going to fight and lead and be the person that really helps to make change when it comes to people with criminal records. and i guess i have been put in this position to help lead that charge. >> reporter: adam may, al jazeera, baltimore. tomorrow ireland becomes the fist country ever to hold a nation-wide referendum on same-sex marriage. 18 countries allow gay couples to wed. and while we wait for the
supreme court to rule here ireland could make history. irish senator spearheaded the campaign to legalize gay marriage in ireland. she is the first openly lesbian member of the legislature. >> it's an extraordinary moment. our prime, and our deputy prime, both of them heads of our coalition political parties who were there, gathering with those who fought so hard sharing with each other how do we think it's going in we feel quietly confident -- we feel quietly confident now that it is going to pass. and never once have the polls gone below 65% and the irish people who are freedom fighters and justice makers and are compassionate and fair and
generous will actually say yes, and we will become the first country in the world to do it that way. >> it seems like this is personal for you. >> it is personal. when we got married there was no public conversation. when we came back we were very much alone. we started a case and got supporters and it has just blom -- blossomed. >> do you think it will have an impact on other countries, including the u.s., having similar debates? >> well, what i know is -- clearly it will. what i also know when we were running our case in the high court, what was going on in the united states both in the courts as well as the advocacy we were in touch with these people helping us try to understand how to advocate for the issue, what
were the legal issues at stake? so they can marry the person they choose to love. so there's no question in our mind not only will we experience freedom finally for all of the citizens, that what this signal sends to lbgt people throughout the world and countries where they are still criminalized, that this will please god, set up a wave of freedom and pride and encouragement to other countries to at least be more compassionate and tolerant and ultimately to offer full freedom to their lbgt citizens. >> she told stephanie sy that she is confident irish voters will turn out in favor of same-sex marriage. she believes it would pave the way for other countries to follow. a solution to clearing up space debris may involve
minutes. the capsule is carrying 3,000 pounds of lab samples and research notes. one obstacle it has to deal with, space junk. there are 3,000 tons of debris orbiting earth and it is getting worse every year. who keeps track of this stuff? >> the place agencies. not just our own, but places like the european space agency. where they are going, and where it all ends up. so this is actually video from the european space agency going through time since the 1960s we keep putting things into space, but most of it doesn't come back down. and it has multiplied in some cases, because this is one of the big crashes. two big satellites hitting each
other, creating 2,000 additional particles. and this is these particles. they took an aluminum block that was half a foot thick and dropped what was basically m&m sized into it. and look at what that little m&m size can do when it is hurdling that fast. so because of that the even little pieces can cause tremendous damage to satellites risks to the international space station. so one of the newest concepts out there -- this is about the japanese, they are about to put an observatory, including a telescope in 2017. say they we can use this telescope and if we can fit a laser, shoot it out of the sky, possibly before it gets here.
so that would be one possibility of all of this. but as i said there have been over ideas like trying to grab some of these satellites out of the sky, a lot of people having that very vested interest in getting these things removed, because each year with more collisions, you have more and more of these pieces and we just keep putting more stuff up there. >> i suppose it's a miracle nothing bad had happened to humans from the junk. >> not yet, but we all saw gravity, or a lot of us did, and that stuff is out there. >> thank you. it is a wrap for david letterman. saying good-bye was funny and touching. >> our long national nightmare is over. [ laughter ] >> our long national nightmare is over. >> our long national nightmare
is over. >> our long national nightmare is over. >> our long national nightmare is over letterman is retiring. [ laughter ] >> you are just kidding, right? [ laughter ] >> reporter: that was how david letterman kicked off the finale of his 33-year late night career. letterman has done 6,028 episodes of late night tv. >> a pretty high percentage of those shows just absolutely sucked. >> reporter: but it wasn't filled by teared. >> i'll be honest with you, it's beginning to look like i'm not going to get the tonight show. >> i don't think so. >> hi welcome to taco bell what do you want? >> hi can i have a kid's meal with a soft taco. >> are you mexican? >> no, i'm not.
>> if you are mexican, the meal is half off. [ laughter ] >> you are not, you are not, you are not funny. [ laughter ] >> reporter: some of his biggest stars showed up to do his final top ten list. >> i'm just glad your show is being given to another white guy. >> thanks for letting me take part in another hugely disappointing series finale. >> dave i'll never have the money i owe you. >> he honored his wife and son sitting in the audience. >> thank you for being my family. i love you both. and really nothing else matters, does it. >> reporter: and then he said good-bye. >> people who watch this show there's nothing i can do to ever repay you. thank you for everything. you have given me everything. and thank you. [ applause ] >> steven colbert takes over the late show in september. thanks for joining us today, i'm randall pinkston. the news continues next live from london.
keep up on aljazeera.com. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ . >> isil fighters make major gains in iraq and syria, just weeks after predictions that they were in retreat. this is al jazeera, lye from london. hundreds have been rescued but 4,000 are still adrift. the government talks tough on immigration, but government says it is missing the target to tighten borders.