Seattle Summit: Eco-troops mobilise for conflict and chaos

"I"M HERE because I believe in compost, not commerce!" screams Joshua Russert, an enlisted demonstrator who, at 6ft 5in, will be in the front line next week. "I'm here to put a stake in the WTO!" shouts his commanding officer, who delights in the title of "conflict manager".

Welcome to the training camp of the combat corps of the Ruckus Society, the American-based spearhead of the coalition of fringe movements who are planning quite unprecedented mayhem at next week's summit in Seattle. Anita Roddick of Body Shop fame sits on the board; the US TV mogul Ted Turner donates money. And John Sellers, the 32-year-old head of Ruckus, is about to spend it on causing as much disruption as possible.

"We live in the belly of the beast, in the heart of the superpower that is destroying our world," he says.

"Now it's time for my generation to stand up and be counted on the issues that matter - trade, food, the environment, workers' rights."

For weeks, Ruckus has put its combat corps, 150 volunteers, through a daily regime of rock climbing (the better to scale buildings in Seattle) and "conflict techniques" (the better to disrupt WTO meetings). Now the shock troops have arrived in downtown Seattle.

"This is fine tuning for the final assault," says Mr Sellers as he discusses the blockade of the Westin Hotel, which will accommodate many WTO delegates, possibly includingPresident Bill Clinton. "The object is to stop as many delegates as possible, get in their faces, keep it non-violent, entirely peaceful on our part. But make it noisy!"

David Smith is Washington correspondent for Channel Four News.

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