Raelians Disrobe to Protest Iraq War

The federal building in Westwood became a focal point for anti-war demonstrators, with a few women stripping to their thongs and a separate group led by actor Danny Glover marching down Wilshire Boulevard to protest a possible war with Iraq.

The women who shed their clothes Saturday were followers of the Raelian sect, who believe life on Earth was created by space aliens. In December, Clonaid, a group started by the Raelians, claimed to have produced the first human clone. But the group has failed to produce the child for DNA testing.

Four members of the group stood on the grounds of the federal building, disrobed for several minutes, and encouraged others to do the same as a sign of their opposition to war.

"Whenever everybody undresses, the ego goes away and then we can make decisions," said protester Nadine Gary. "Imagine President Bush nude addressing the state of the union. Imagine Saddam Hussein nude."

The protests were staged on United Nations International Women's Day. Other protests took place in Washington, D.C., and other nations.

Federal authorities estimated that a total of 650 people converged on the building near the University of California, Los Angeles for the protests. No arrests were reported.

"Women are most affected by war," Glover said. "It is the real caregivers of this mother Earth who are most devastated."

Members of the group led by Glover marched down the boulevard through Westwood before staging a rally at the federal building. They sang, banged drums and waved anti-war signs.

Among them was 82-year-old Alaphena Miller, who uses a wheelchair.

"I may not be able to stand up but I can still fight war," Miller said.

Several demonstrators said they felt the money necessary to finance a war with Iraq would be better spent on education, health care and welfare in the United States.

"We don't have to go regime-changing in other countries when no one else will help us," said protester Diane Shepperd, 42. "Hopefully our president will drop his ego."

Meanwhile, hundreds gathered Saturday for pro-troop rallies across Southern California.

In Irvine, dozens marched along MacArthur Boulevard near John Wayne Airport in a candlelight procession. Police said about 50 people were involved. Organizers said there were 175 marchers.

"We're here to honor the request of our commander in chief" to send troops to the Persian Gulf, said Jane Altman-Dwan.