1. The Jan. 6 committee subpoenaed a former Trump DOJ official.

  • Who? Jeffrey Clark, who tried to support the president’s false claims of election fraud with department resources.
  • What does this mean? The latest activity comes as congressional investigators try to figure out how to force former Trump aides like Stephen K. Bannon to cooperate.
  • What happens if they ignore the committee? Congress has options. Worst-case scenario: The officials could be charged with a crime and face jail time.

2. Math and reading test scores in the U.S. are falling.

  • It’s the first drop in half a century in the “Nation’s Report Card,” which measures student proficiency over time.
  • A key takeaway: Black and Hispanic students’ scores dropped while White students’ scores were flat, suggesting educational gaps in the U.S. are getting worse.
  • It’s not the pandemic (yet): The tests were taken before the coronavirus closed schools, but many experts expect we’ll see more declines.

3. People who got the J&J vaccine might be better off with a different booster.

  • A second shot of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine triggered more antibodies in Johnson & Johnson recipients than Pfizer or J&J boosters, a new study shows.
  • What’s next for J&J: FDA advisers will look at this data when they meet Friday on whether to recommend J&J boosters.
  • And for Moderna: Those advisers are meeting today on its booster shot.

4. Things got even more expensive last month.

  • Prices rose again as supply chain issues and inflation continue, and you may be feeling it in the cost of used cars, gas, meat, appliances, shoes and rent (and more).
  • In related news: Social Security benefits will increase a major 5.9% next year, the biggest cost-of-living adjustment in almost four decades.

5. A new kind of grain could help transform modern farming.

  • The problem: Most crops must be replanted every year and take huge amounts of water, fertilizer and energy to grow — all of which hurts the environment.
  • A potential solution: A form of wheatgrass called Kernza, which grows into a plant that provides grain year after year.
  • Why that helps: It mimics a natural ecosystem, scientists say, forming deep roots that store carbon in soil, prevent erosion and help reduce the need for fertilizer.

6. The West is really cold, and the East is hot this week.

  • What’s going on? The jet stream is slicing the country in half, bringing snow to the Rockies and temperatures 15 to 20 degrees above average to the East Coast.
  • It’s also causing havoc in the middle of the country where the two extremes meet, with hail, tornadoes and storms in places like Texas and Kansas.

7. A couple found a stowaway dog in their luggage.

  • What happened? Kristi and Jared Owens’ bag was overweight when they tried to check it. When they opened the suitcase, they discovered their five-pound chihuahua hiding in a cowboy boot.

And now … what fall should really taste like: This homemade pumpkin spice recipe.

Special thanks to Kimberly Rapanut and Mike King for contributing to today’s briefing.

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