David Cameron's strike vow, Gaza conflict, the 'Curse of Jagger' and Froome's agony

As public sector unions take what's billed as the most significant industrial action "since the general strike of 1926", David Cameron's "crackdown" on strikes is the day's main story.

The PM "pledged to overhaul an archaic law" which has allowed teachers to walk out for the third time this year, based on the results of a ballot of a quarter of NUT members conducted two years ago, reports the Daily Telegraph.

Along with banning such "rolling" strikes, Mr Cameron says a future Conservative government would require at least 50% of union members to vote in favour of a strike in order for it to be considered lawful, says the Sun. It describes the pledge as a "kick in the ballots" for unions and the paper's editorial argues that a minority of "NUT cases" who push for strikes "foist their extremist agenda on the majority".

Tory chairman Grant Shapps writes in the Daily Express that such "union extremists are trying to cause harm not just to our children but also to their hard-working parents". The Daily Mail publishes a table highlighting when the ballots for the current action were taken, complete with their results and turnouts, estimating that none gathered more than 50% support.

However, the Guardian quotes Unite union leader Len McCluskey reminding the PM: "Not a single member of his cabinet won over 50% of the vote in the 2010 election." And the Daily Mirror argues: "If your child's school is shut today by a strike, blame Michael Gove... we regret the inconvenience to families. But responsibility rests with the coalition driving down living standards."

While his paper reminds readers the government "found money to fund a tax cut for the PM's friends", Mirror columnist Paul Routledge says: "Enough of the pay freezes, job cuts, redundancies, privatisation, attacks on pensions and propaganda against those who work for us."

In any case, the Independent believes the proposed additional thresholds are "unnecessary" given the result of the action will be "only a mild inconvenience". It says the strikers have a point that public services have been damaged but says an inconvenient truth for unions may be that "the population as a whole has been more convinced by the arguments in favour of cuts and austerity than we might care to admit".

Trading fire

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"Hamas rockets strike at Israel's nuclear reactor," reads the Times's headline on the latest in the Gaza conflict, which left 50 Palestinians dead as Jerusalem intensified attacks on the Palestinian militants.

Two Hamas rockets landed near a facility in the Negev desert, where Israel is believed to store its nuclear arms, the paper says. It points out that for the first time Hamas has more accurate Syrian-built rockets, with a longer range than its previous armaments. Jerusalem has "prepared hundreds of bomb shelters" after its Iron Dome air defence system intercepted four rockets bound for the city, reports the Guardian.

Despite the weapons upgrade, Roger Boyes - also in the Times - describes Hamas as "broke and divided" as a result of Egypt's crackdown on its Muslim Brotherhood allies and loss of finance from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. It's gambling, he says, on a "limited war" reinvigorating Arab support. In its response, Israel "will have to tread a fine line between punishing Hamas and creating a power vacuum that could allow groups linked to al-Qaeda to take its place", according to analysts quoted in the Telegraph.

Inna Lavareva reports in the Telegraph the terror of Israeli families in Sderot during rocket attacks. "You feel so helpless and so exposed," says one mother caught in the street with no shelter, who dived atop three of her children in a bid to protect them. From Gaza's Beit Hanoun, meanwhile, Robert Tait reports "scenes of hysterical grieving" as neighbours mourn the death of a suspected Islamic Jihad member and five relatives. "They usually fire a warning rocket to let the people escape but this was sudden," says one.

As Israel talks of stepping up military operations, the Guardian finds people in Gaza City stocking up on food "not only for the Ramadan Iftar meal, but against the fear of what might happen next if there is a ground incursion". Few there are in doubt as to what that would mean, given that in the last such exercise, 1,400 Palestinians - including 300 children - were killed, the report says.

Above a photograph showing a man carrying the body of a child, the Independent's front-page headline reads: "The same old story: innocents pay the price of Gaza's tragedy." Inside, Robert Fisk argues that the conflict is not about the reported triggers such as the "foul murder" of three Israeli students in the West Bank or that of a Palestinian in east Jerusalem, but: "As usual, it's about land."

Brazil Jaggered?

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Sports writers are still analysing Brazil's 7-1 semi-final defeat to Germany in football's World Cup. And while the Daily Mirror reports that Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has leapt to the defence of his former central defender David Luiz, who was roundly criticised for his display, the Telegraph has identified a new scapegoat.

"Brazilians round on Sir Mick and blame the Curse of Jagger," says the broadsheet, explaining that "an extraordinary run of bad luck over the course of the past two World Cups has seen Sir Mick witnessing the exit of four teams he was supporting". As Jagger attended the game with the son he had by a Brazilian model, superstitious fans brought cardboard cut-outs of the Rolling Stone wearing a Germany kit in the hope of transferring the bad luck of a man now known as Pe Frio, or "Cold Feet" - the local term for a jinx.

Sir Mick's having none of it, according to the Sun, which quotes him joking: "I can take responsibility for the first German goal but not the other six." Still, the tabloid says the scoreline made one man's day. Unemployed chef John Moore made it onto the front page after his £5 bet on the correct result landed him £2,500. He'd apparently had "hunches" about the numbers one and seven.

He's probably celebrating with more gusto than the Germans, if the Times's commentary is correct. "Some victories, it seems, are too embarrassing to celebrate out loud," it says, noting the muted tone of the press. "Even the triumphalist mass circulation tabloid Bild strove not to be rude. 'Ohne Worte (Speechless)' was the main headline."

The Mirror reckons that the players were in on the same act. It interprets comments from defender Mats Hummels that at half time the German team "made it clear that we had to stay focused and not try to humiliate them" as a "shock pact not to showboat". For Brazil, the paper reckons, it was a "final insult".

Summer of setbacks

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The Brazilians should learn to "take it on the chin... like us Brits," reckons the Financial Times's Mathew Engel, as he describes the UK phlegmatically coming to terms with "the latest in an accumulation of minor sporting disasters".

He's referring to what is described by both the Mail and Telegraph as "Froome's agony", the decision of reigning Tour de France champion Chris Froome to pull out injured before the end of the fifth stage after three crashes in two days. As the Sun points out, that wasn't before the "lionheart... rode for 150 miles with a busted wrist" in a bid to retain his crown.

The Independent's Alasdair Fotheringham says the champion's exit "exposes [his team] Sky's folly in lacking Plan B" - namely omitting 2012 champion Sir Bradley Wiggins from its line-up. However, team boss Sir Dave Brailsford insists he has no regrets about his team selection and the Telegraph's Tom Cary says that while Wiggins might have helped Froome to victory, critics are ignoring the fact that he "has not raced in a grand tour since his own slippery exit from last year's Giro d'Italia, and has not really trained for one since".

As the Guardian's William Fotheringham sees it, Froome's exit allows Sky to look to the future, both in Australian back-up leader Richie Porte and Welshman Geraint Thomas, whose "all-round ability, massive engine and tough mentality might make him a possible overall contender for the Tour in the style of Wiggins".

Despite the latest sporting setback, one or two papers can see the bright side. As the FT's Engel points out: "In Britain, there is always another sport in which to immerse ourselves. Why, it is golf's Open Championship next week. One of our lads might win that."

Failing that, the Daily Star has a crumb of comfort: "At least we still have the tiddly-winks world champion."

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