NPR News

Updated 8:20 p.m. ET

A young boy desperately pulling back on a woman's arm, as she shouts at an impassive police officer.

Randall Stephenson, the CEO of AT&T, has been making headlines of late with his proposed $85 billion merger with Time Warner. But just before those plans were announced last month, Stephenson raised eyebrows for another reason. In a room full of AT&T employee support groups, Stephenson gave an impassioned speech on race relations.

The number of cigarette smokers in the United States has dropped by 8.6 million since 2005 — and that fall could be accelerated by a tobacco tax just passed in California.

Large parts of the Southeast are grappling with severe drought.

In some parts of Alabama, there hasn't been any rain in nearly six weeks. Some farmers are selling off cattle because there's not enough hay to feed them over the winter.

Scientists have pinpointed the ticklish bit of a rat's brain.

The results, published in the journal Science, are another step toward understanding the origins of ticklishness, and its purpose in social animals.

People and leprosy go way back. Way, way back.

"It's been around for at least 5,000 years and probably longer," says Stewart Cole, who directs the Global Health Institute at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.

Care Bears didn't make the cut; neither did Transformers or Uno. But it's a good day for Little People — first produced by Fisher-Price in 1959 — as the Toy Hall of Fame announces its 2016 class of inductees.

Also getting the nod: Dungeons & Dragons, which was praised for creating a system of imaginative play that has entranced both kids and adults; and the humble swing, which in the past 100 years has grown from its ancient roots to become a playground favorite.

A top Chinese police official has been elected president of Interpol, the global police agency. The move could help China with its anti-corruption drive, but rights groups are worried that Beijing might use the organization to track down political dissidents.

Interpol member countries elected China's vice minister of public security, Meng Hongwei, on Thursday at a general assembly meeting in Bali, Indonesia. "I am a veteran policeman," Meng said during a speech. "And I stand ready to do everything I can towards the cause of policing in the world."

The bodies of two more presumed victims of Todd Kohlhepp, the South Carolina man who has confessed to multiple murders, have been identified as a young married couple who went missing in late 2015. Kohlhepp was arrested last week after a woman was found chained in a storage container on his land in Woodruff, S.C.

In excavated waste heaps along the western coast of Greenland, researchers have found evidence that ancient Greenlanders, known as the paleo-Inuit or Saqqaq, may have been eating large amounts of bowhead whale. But these 4,000-year-old "dumpsters" are from millennia before humans had specialized technology to hunt down such massive prey.