Simin Behbahani

Acclaimed poet known as 'lioness of Iran'

Simin Behbahani, 87, a famed Iranian poet who wrote of the joys of love, demanded equal rights for women and spoke out about the challenges facing those living in her homeland, died Tuesday in Tehran. She had been hospitalized and unconscious since Aug. 6 and died of heart failure and breathing problems, Iran's official IRNA news agency reported.

Born Simin Khalili in Tehran on July 20, 1927, Behbahani taught high school for many years.

Her poems came in a variety of styles, far from classical and routine forms normally associated with Persian prose.

Her work often focused on the challenges facing Iran in the wake of its Islamic Revolution in 1979 and women's rights, her strong words earning her the nickname of the "lioness of Iran." Behbahani, who studied law at Tehran University in the 1950s, was awarded the Simone de Beauvoir Prize for Women's Freedom in 2009 and was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

However, Behbahani was also targeted by authorities. In 2010, Iranian authorities barred her from leaving the country to attend an International Women's Day event in Paris. In 2006, authorities shut down an opposition newspaper for printing one of her works, an editor there said at the time.

President Obama once recited her work in a video message in honor of Nowruz, the Persian New Year, saying: "Old I may be, but, given the chance, I will learn."

In his 2011 video, Obama described Behbahani as "a woman who has been banned from traveling beyond Iran, even though her words have moved the world."

Yet she remained a constant force in Iranian life, writing after the country's disputed 2009 election: "Stop this extravagance, this reckless throwing of my country to the wind."

The poem ends: "You may wish to have me burned or decide to stone me / But in your hand, match or stone will lose their power to harm me."

George Hansen

Idaho congressman served time in prison

 

George Hansen, 83, a former Idaho Republican congressman known for his colorful antics as well as his time in federal prison, died Thursday of natural causes at a medical center in Pocatello, Idaho, according to the Cornelison Funeral Home.

Hansen represented Idaho's 2nd Congressional District for a total of seven terms in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

"He believed in the [U.S.] Constitution, and believed in individual liberty," Bill Hansen said of his father. "When he was in office, he was always trying to make sure government was accountable to people, to make sure the government served the people and not people serving the government."

In 1979, Hansen went to Iran to attempt to negotiate a deal during the hostage crisis, angering the Carter administration. He was the only member of Congress to visit Iran during the 444-day crisis.

In 1984, Hansen became the first congressman convicted under the Ethics in Government Act for filing false financial disclosure statements, serving two six-month terms in federal prison. The U.S. Supreme Court vacated his conviction 10 years later after finding fault with the act.

In 1993, Hansen was convicted on 45 counts of bank fraud for a multimillion-dollar check-kiting scheme. Despite the conviction, nearly 100 of his alleged victims submitted affidavits to the judge saying they didn't want Hansen sentenced and he was still considered their political champion.