The New York Times leads with four of the largest labor unions boycotting this week’s AFL-CIO convention in Chicago. The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with the Sharm El-Sheikh bombings. The Washington Post leads with the latest update on the investigation into the London attacks and fronts news that officials in Egypt now link the three men thought responsible for the blasts in Sharm El-Sheikh to an attack last year at the Taba Hilton, also in the Sinai Peninsula. The Los Angeles Times leads locally but fronts the suicide bombing aimed at an Iraqi police station. USA Today leads with Lance Armstrong’s Tour de France win.
Although the Chicago convention was planned to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the merger of the AFL and the CIO, the NYT reports that two of the boycotting unions—the Teamsters and the Service Employees International Union—say they will also be withdrawing from the federation entirely. The WP claims that all four of the boycotting unions will be withdrawing, including the United Food and Commercial Workers Union and Unite Here, which represents hotel, restaurant, and garment workers.
At the heart of the dispute is the decline of organized labor—less than 8 percent of private sector workers are in unions, compared with 35 percent at the time of the historic merger. The boycotting unions are especially dissatisfied with the leadership of John J. Sweeney, AFL-CIO president since 1995.
Dissenters have formed their own organization, the Change to Win Coalition, which they hope will foster union growth through organized campaigns against giant companies like Wal-Mart. AFL-CIO leaders retort that the only things dissenters will be fostering are the forces opposed to organized labor. Union infighting is especially bad news for democrats as labor donates big to political campaigns and organizes massive voting drives. In the 2004 election, union households, which made up 24 percent of all votes, gave John Kerry a 5.8 million-vote majority.
In London, investigators now link the four fugitives responsible for last week’s botched bombings to the four suicide bombers thought responsible for the deadly blasts two weeks prior. The NYT earlier revealed that a pamphlet for a whitewater rafting trip in Wales had been found in one of the backpacks of Thursday’s bombers and that two of the July 7suicide bombers were on that same trip. One police theory has all eight bombers meeting up on the day of the rafting trip. On Saturday night police arrested a man in connection with the failed blasts; two others were arrested on Friday. Two men are also being held on suspicion of involvement.
Like the blast in Taba which killed 34 four people, the bombs in Sharm El-Sheikh were transported in pickup trucks and were spaced only minutes apart. There is at least one difference, however: The explosives in Saturday’s attacks were mixed with nails to “maximize casualties.” According to the WP, Egypt’s interior minister has publicly suggested a link between both attacks. The investigation into the Taba bombing resulted in 3,000 arrests as well as charges of police abuse and torture. Two of the men blamed for those attacks went on trial in Egypt on Saturday (one is being tried in absentia). Also, two groups have claimed responsibility—one of them, the Abdullah Azzam Brigades of al-Qaida in Syria and Egypt, previously claimed responsibility for the Taba bombings. Still, the NYT is less bullish on jumping to connect the attacks and quotes officials as saying that more information is needed.
The NYT goes below the fold with news that Sunni Arab leaders ended their boycott and will participate in the drafting of the new Iraqi constitution. After one of the constitutional committee’s fifteen Sunni drafters was killed last week, the remaining 14 boycotted until the committee approved a list of security demands—including a request that the government provide them with bodyguards. The Iraqi Parliament must approve the constitution by August 15before it goes to a national referendum in October. The announcement was made as a suicide bomber drove into a police station’s barricades in Baghdad, killing at least 25 people (the LAT has the death toll as high as 40) and wounding at least 33 more.
Also in Iraq, early Monday morning a suicide bomber blew up a minibus in central Baghdad killing six and wounding 10.
The WP reports that even though he has no memory of his membership, Judge John Roberts was mysteriously listed as a member of the Federalist Society in the organization’s 1997-1998 leadership directory. Although membership in the conservative legal society is secret, the WP got its hands on a copy of the directory, which named Roberts as not only a member, but a member of the steering committee of the Washington chapter. While the news is hardly a smoking gun, it gives some indication, or confirmation, of the nominee’s political sympathies.
Vive Lance: USAT leads with, and everyone else fronts, bicyclist Lance Armstrong’s seventh consecutive Tour de France win and his retirement from the sport. Armstrong completed the 2,241-mile race on Sunday and accepted his trophy after a French military band played “The Star-Spangled Banner” and an American flag was flown over the Champs-Élysées. * In 1996 Armstrong began treatment and underwent surgery for testicular cancer which spread to his lungs and brain; he won his first Tour de France three years later.
* Correction, July 26: This article originally and incorrectly claimed that the Tour de France covers 15,000 miles. In fact it covers 2,241 miles.