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Italy's General Strike Underway

Much of Italy has been shut down Tuesday by a general strike called by unions to protest Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's economic policy.

Trains and air traffic are being halted for separate four hours periods. The postal service and government offices are closed for the day, along with doctors' offices and schools. Banks, factories and newspapers are also affected. Demonstrations were planned for at least 70 cities across Italy.

Unions are protesting Mr. Berlusconi's 2005 budget, which calls for $8.6 billion in tax cuts. The opposition says the cuts favor the rich while risking public services and jobs.

However, a new poll indicates the government's popularity increased by six percentage points to 38.2 percent after the tax cuts were announced.

Today's strike is the fourth since Mr. Berlusconi came to power in 2001.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters, AFP and AP.