For the first time in the five years of Italy's economic crisis, grass-roots protests expressing frustration if not deep anger at the political class are spreading across Italy.

Students are marching through cities and towns, small-business owners are blocking highway entrances, and demonstrators have even tried to close the border with France.

Their singular aim: To send all the politicians home in hopes of ending the country's malaise.

The so-called Pitchfork Protests - the name evoking a peasant uprising - moved into their fourth day Thursday. The protests reflect the deepening pain of Italy's two-year-long recession, which has seen unemployment rise to a postwar high of 12.5 percent, with youth unemployment at a record 40 percent. - AP