Brazil: Cell research upheld

BRASILIA — Brazil's Supreme Court ruled Thursday that scientists can conduct embryonic stem cell research, which holds the promise of curing Parkinson's disease and diabetes but raises ethical concerns about the limits on human life.

Six of the court's 11 justices upheld a 2005 law allowing embryonic stem cell research and turned down a petition filed that same year by then-Attorney General Claudio Fontelles, who argued the law was unconstitutional because it violates the right to life.

Iceland: Quake rocks capital

REYKJAVIK — A strong earthquake shook southern Iceland on Thursday, causing more than a dozen injuries as it rocked buildings in the capital, touched off landslides and forced evacuations in outlying towns, officials and local media said.

Government officials reported that 15 to 20 people from Selfoss, 30 miles southeast of the capital of Reykjavik, were injured in the quake, none of them seriously.

India: Crash kills 39

BANGALORE — Indian police say a truck ferrying people to a wedding has plunged into a river in southern India, killing at least 39 people.

Senior police officer Sharath Chandra said the truck was carrying 70 people over a bridge. The driver lost control while trying to some avoid electrical wires on the road.

Iraq: Coins cause uproar

BAGHDAD — A U.S. Marine guarding a checkpoint on the western outskirts of Fallujah handed out coins with an Arabic translation of a biblical verse to Iraqis entering the city, angering residents and city leaders who denounced it as serious affront to Islam and an attempt to convert them to Christianity.

As the Marines quickly apologized Thursday, Sunni guerrillas struck several times in northern Iraq, killing at least 19 people in two suicide bombings. Gunmen near Tikrit also used a water tanker as a Trojan horse to attack an Iraqi checkpoint, but the Iraqi security forces repelled the assault and killed 14 attackers.

In Fallujah, a city just west of Baghdad, the Marines pledged to discipline the Marine who handed out the coins, which were inscribed with one of the Bible's most widely known verses, John 3:16: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life."

Nicaragua: Tropical storm

MANAGUA — Tropical Storm Alma slammed into Nicaragua's northwest corner Thursday, near the city of Leon, becoming the first such storm of the eastern Pacific season.

Heavy wind and rains knocked out power, forced evacuations, and flooded low-lying areas all along Central America's Pacific coastline.

Panama: Chilean official dies

PANAMA CITY — Chile's national police chief and 10 others were killed Thursday when the aging Panamanian government helicopter they were riding in crashed into a three-story building in Panama City.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet rushed to Santiago from northern Chile when she learned of the death of Gen. Jose Alejandro Bernales, 59. He was on an official visit to Panama with his wife.