How To Avoid Talking To People, As Told In 2 Genius Comics

Engaging in small talk sends plenty of people ― and introverts especially ― into panic mode. For others, small talk just feels shallow and aimless, like so:

In the College Humor comics below, illustrator A.C. Stuart gives us a fail-proof defense against dreaded stop and chat:

Problem. Solved.

Head to Stuart’s Facebook page for more illustrations. 

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How To Avoid Talking To People, As Told In 2 Genius Comics

Engaging in small talk sends plenty of people ― and introverts especially ― into panic mode. For others, small talk just feels shallow and aimless, like so:

In the College Humor comics below, illustrator A.C. Stuart gives us a fail-proof defense against dreaded stop and chat:

Problem. Solved.

Head to Stuart’s Facebook page for more illustrations. 

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– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

27 Powerful Photo Stories That Captured Our Attention This Year

Another year over, a new one about to begin. What better time to remember the visual stories from 2016 that reminded us humanity is a beautiful, complicated mess?

From a ballet program in Kenya to the real-life mermaids of Korea, the fearless LGBTQ youth of Jamaica to a married couple dealing with depression in the U.S., the best subjects from this year were better captured in pictures than words. With that sentiment in mind, here are the photo projects we discovered, adored and shared this year:

1. These photos of the ballet program bringing strength to one of Africa’s biggest slums:

Read more here. 

 

2. This series that took us inside the last generation of Haenyo, Korea’s real-life mermaids:

Read more here.

 

3. The photographer who documented what students were wearing when they were sexually assaulted:

Read more here.

 

4. The photographer who chronicled her husband’s depression through intimate portraits:

Read more here.

 

5. The nude photos that celebrated the fact that “big and beautiful” people have love stories, too:

Read more here.

 

6. The photographer who documented early motherhood in unflinching detail:

Read more here.

 

7. The aerial photos that captured just how differently the rich and poor live:

Read more here.

 

8. The historic photos that reminded us what the North’s fight for civil rights looked like 50 years ago:

Read more here.

 

9. The breathtaking photos that captured Cuba’s legendary ballerinas dancing in the streets:

Daniela Fabelo & Daniela Cabrera #OZR_Dance || # || #Cuba

A photo posted by Omar Z. Robles (@omarzrobles) on Mar 25, 2016 at 5:57pm PDT

Read more here.

 

10. Amaal Said’s portraits that shed beautiful light on women of color:

Read more here.

 

11. The woman who photographed 500 naked men in an attempt to normalize the nude male body:

Read more here.

 

12. The series that explored how a 14-year-old sex worker became one of photography’s greatest muses:

Read more here.

 

13. The photos that followed 12 couples over three decades in a unique study of aging:

Read more here.

 

14. The raw photo project that asked people to take off their clothes and discuss self-love:

Read more here.

 

15. The visual story of the fearless LGBTQ youth who live in Jamaica’s sewers:

Read more here.

 

16. The rare photos of Marilyn Monroe, taken by the man who fell in love with Norma Jeane Baker:

Read more here.

 

17. The series on poverty that, 30 years later, is as powerful as ever:

Read more here.

 

18. The photos that captured the beauty and grace of the world’s first Muslim hijabi ballerina:

Read more here.

 

19. The daughter who spent seven years documenting her mother’s bipolar disorder in photos:

Read more here.

 

20. The project that let viewers watch as Detroit neighborhoods fell into ruin with Google Street View:

Read more here.

 

21. The photographer who depicted the ways hijab and niqab can empower, protect and emancipate:

Read more here.

 

22. The never-before-published photos that revealed clues Bowie left before his death:

Read more here.

 

23. The photos of Nydia Blas, who only makes images of women of color:

Read more here.

 

24. The series that took us inside “Africa’s Little Rome,” an eerie city where time stands still:

Read more here.

 

25. The all-girls photo collective that celebrates womens’ bodies, unedited:

Read more here.

 

26. The biracial artist who dared us to define her through performative self-portraits:

Read more here.

 

27. The trans/trans couple that collected intimate photos of their life together:

Read more here.

 

BONUS: Photos by HuffPost’s own Damon Dahlen, who explored the bedrooms of NYC’s emerging ballerinas:

Read more here.

 

For even more of the most compelling photo stories from 2016, check out:

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Obama Closes Presidency With Far Fewer Deportations Than When He Started

WASHINGTON ― President Barack Obama is closing out his time in office with dramatically lower deportation numbers from the interior of the country than when he began.

Deportations from the interior of the United States continued to drop in 2016, dwindling to roughly a quarter of their 2009 peak, according to numbers released Friday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The government conducted about 65,300 removals from inside the country in the 2016 fiscal year compared to 237,900 in the 2009 fiscal year.

Total ICE deportations for the year, which include people caught in the border area trying to cross illegally into the U.S., stayed flat, 240,255 ― an increase of less than 5,000 over the year before, and well below recent peaks of around 400,000. In the end, Immigration and Customs Enforcement carried out more than 2.7 million deportations from the 2009 to 2016 fiscal years ― those included in Obama’s presidency ― more than half of them coming from the border region.

The declining numbers of people expelled from within the United States marks a continuing shift for Obama, who was widely derided by reformers for most of his presidency as the “deporter-in-chief.”

Those numbers might not last, if President-elect Donald Trump moves forward with a promise to drastically increase the rate of deportation: He insists he can and will quickly find and deport two or three million broadly-defined “criminals.”

Finding that many criminal migrants will likely be difficult. The nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute estimates that there are about 820,000 undocumented immigrants with criminal records residing in the United States. That figure includes offenses as petty as traffic tickets.

DHS officials themselves say the falling interior deportation numbers reflect the Obama administration’s policy of focusing their efforts on removing people with criminal histories.

Virtually all of the people deported from within the interior of the United States ― 92 percent ― had been convicted of a crime that put them within one of ICE’s top three priorities for removal.

But ICE’s top priority removal category includes people convicted of the offenses of illegal entry and reentry ― non-violent crimes that don’t distinguish them much from other undocumented immigrants. DHS officials did not immediately provide a breakdown of the criminal offenses deportees had been convicted of.

The number of deportations has also dropped in recent years partly because the number of people trying to enter the country has plummeted. Border Patrol apprehended about 408,900 people in the 2016 fiscal year, which is generally considered an indicator of how many people attempted to enter without authorization. In 2000, agents picked up nearly 1.7 million people trying to cross the border illegally.

A growing share of those who do cross illegally into the United States are Central Americans, who often seek asylum or other humanitarian relief. Their cases can take years to wind their way through backlogged immigration courts and do not result in swift deportations. In 2016, border agents apprehended more Central Americans than they did Mexicans, a switch that happened for the first time in 2014.

There was some good news for Trump: Local jurisdictions that have resisted working with ICE are doing so more than they were several years ago, according to DHS officials. Any massive increase in deportations would likely require cooperation from local police, and Trump has threatened to withhold federal funding to force them to comply. Many of the counties that previously refused to help ICE have already “come back to the table,” including 21 of the 25 jurisdictions that declined the largest number of requests to hold suspected deportable immigrants, a DHS official said. The official called it “one of our most significant accomplishments this year.”

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If People Were Honest At New Year’s Eve Parties

There are two kinds of people in the world: Those of us who look forward to New Year’s Eve and those who know the night will inevitably end in disappointment. 

If you fall into the latter camp, you’ll appreciate the College Humor video above. In the sketch, guests wander around a house party and say exactly what’s on their mind. 

“I had to come to this party because everything I actually wanted to do was way too expensive,” one guest explains to the host as he walks in. 

“Also, you’re out of alcohol and it’s only 10 p.m.,” another dude says to her. “Sounds like your problem!” 

Yeah, we’re staying home this year. 

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Latina Student Who Filmed ‘Build A Wall’ Chant Speaks Out About Backlash

The video was seen around the world.

Shot in a school cafeteria at Royal Oak Middle School, just outside Detroit, you can hear seventh grade students shouting, “Build a wall! Build a wall!” the day after Donald Trump won the presidency.

The chant matches what many of Donald Trump’s supporters yelled throughout the presidential campaign whenever the Republican candidate, at rallies, promised to build a wall along the US-Mexico border.

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If You Have A Bad Relationship With New Year’s Eve, You’re Not Alone

New Year’s Eve, you’re always promising great things. And that’s fine for you, since I’m spending all the money and doing all the planning. By the end of the night, it’s pretty clear that nothing has changed, and we keep falling into the same traps we always do.

Comedy writers Teresa Lee and Melanie Owens, aka Wait, What?, are making a real resolution this trip around the sun: they’re breaking up with New Year’s Eve.

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Watch These Brave Souls Play ‘Never Have I Ever’ With Their Parents

Playing “Never Have I Ever” is all fun and games until you decide to play it with your parents. Then, it’s bound to get a little awkward. 

In the BuzzFeed video above, brave parents and their grown children put each other on the spot, answering questions about drug use, skinny dipping and porn.

Let’s just say they learn a lot about each other by the end of the game.

“I feel like I know everything about her,” one daughter says of her mom. “You watch porn ― that was weird!”

“Everybody has!” the moms says. 

“Yeah, but it’s still weird when it’s your mom.” 

Fair enough. Watch the clip above to see how the whole game plays out.

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The 20 Funniest Tweets From Women This Week

The ladies of Twitter never fail to brighten our days with their brilliant ― but succinct ― wisdom. Each week, HuffPost Women rounds up hilarious 140-character musings. For this week’s great tweets from women, scroll through the list below. Then visit our Funniest Tweets From Women page for our past collections.       

sorry, I can't hang out tonight. I'm watching "My 600lb Life" and scrolling through engagement announcements on Facebook

— Jenna Amatulli (@ohheyjenna) December 27, 2016

if a robot became sentient this past year, they'd probably be like "ehhhh not for me"

— Aparna Nancherla (@aparnapkin) December 29, 2016

The year is 2024. We now choose our President by whoever gets the most retweets. JK. It's only the electoral retweets that count.

— the war on bethmas (@bourgeoisalien) December 27, 2016

Can we leave "sorry for your losT" in 2016, please?

It's LOSS, people.
Not losT, like lost and found.

— wise young fattie (@SimoneMariposa) December 30, 2016

Christmas is over, you can block your relatives on social media now.

— Monica Ann (@Monicann86) December 27, 2016

"art is better when u struggle & suffer for it!!"
me: pic.twitter.com/OJP6DFHQSl

— Wendy witch ⭐️ (@AngrygirLcomics) December 29, 2016

if you're saying out loud that 2016 was actually a good year for you, you might be a sociopath

— Noël Wells (@RealTomHankz) December 28, 2016

Every Christmas I make my kids gather near the fire & watch Rihanna's family unwrap Chanel backpacks on Snapchat

— Gabby Noone (@twelveoclocke) December 24, 2016

The older I get, the more the solution "burn it to the ground" seems more reasonable.

— Michelle (@RageMichelle) December 29, 2016

me on instagram vs me on twitter pic.twitter.com/1E5crwP7n1

— Michelle Lee (@heymichellelee) December 22, 2016

at this point i'm pretty sure Facebook is making sure I see all my friends getting engaged

— Amber Discko (@amberdiscko) December 29, 2016

2017 for feminists is gonna be like that training montage in "Enough" where JLo gets ready to slay the patriarchy.

— Emily McCombs (@msemilymccombs) December 29, 2016

a day where i watch no episodes of the good wife is a day wasted

— Jenna Weiss-Berman (@WBJenna) December 28, 2016

Men Are More Visual, and Other Fake Excuses They Tell You To Get Away With Shit

— BORK BORK (@priya_ebooks) December 30, 2016

Men when a woman takes off her makeup and they find out she doesn't actually have glittery pink eyelids and bright red lips pic.twitter.com/X1ZY0HpuEB

— pb (@paigebrittany) December 27, 2016

My dog ignores me when I whistle, so I've had to learn to imitate the sound of a fridge door opening.

— Elizabeth Hackett (@LizHackett) December 30, 2016

date someone who makes you feel like first time you scratch your scalp after taking out a weave

— Hannah Giorgis (@ethiopienne) December 29, 2016

twitter, or as i like to call it, the attention-getting machine

— new year cait (@harmonicait) December 29, 2016

I'm not crying at the gym, I'm just sweating out of my eyeballs and nowhere else

— Emmy Blotnick (@emmyblotnick) December 30, 2016

Sex and the City 2017:

Samantha: Putin? More like Put-it-in, honey ooo.
Charlotte: Samantha you're so ba—

everyone dies in a nuclear blast

— Anna Swartz (@Anna_Snackz) December 23, 2016

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Denzel Washington Doesn’t Think Hollywood Has A Colorism Problem

Denzel Washington has made huge strides in Hollywood over his decades-spanning career, paving the way for other African-American stars to excel in an industry that has historically excluded and stereotyped black performers. But after over 30 years in the business, the 62-year-old actor said that darker-skinned actors and actresses who call out colorism in the industry are simply looking to “blame someone else” for their failure. 

In an interview with BET published last week, Washington was asked whether colorism has negatively affected the careers of dark-skinned actors and actresses in Hollywood. His response was disappointing, to say the least. Referring to Viola Davis’s performance in his new film, “Fences,” Washington said:

“One of the best roles for a woman of any color in the last, in a good good while or at least any movie that I’ve been in, a dark-skinned woman has in this film.”

The actor added that it isn’t skin color, but acting ability, that hinders darker actors from achieving success.“The easiest thing to do is to blame someone else, the system,” Washington told BET. “Yeah, there’s a possibility, maybe, that you’re not good enough, but it’s easy to say it’s someone else’s fault. But there’s a possibility that you’re not ready and you can still blame it on someone else instead of getting ready.”

Washington’s comments are unfortunate, given the fact that his “Fences” co-star Viola Davis has spoken out extensively about how colorism has affected her career. In 2015, she told The Wrap that “the paper-bag test is still very much alive and kicking” in Hollywood. 

“And in the history of television and even in film, I’ve never seen a character like Annalise Keating played by someone who looks like me,” Davis added.

“I encourage you to search your memory and think of anyone who’s done this. It just hasn’t happened. I hear these stories from friends of mine who are dark-skin actresses who are always being seen as crack addicts and prostitutes.”

While Washington seems to suggest that Davis’s talent helped her transcend colorism in Hollywood, the fact that Davis only got to play a complex, sexual-leading woman (as Annalise Keating in “How to Get Away With Murder”) after 20 years on screen suggests that we still have a long way to go. 

What’s most baffling about Washington’s statement, is the fact that in 2012, he himself spoke candidly about telling his own daughter that she will face discrimination in Hollywood because she is dark. 

“You’re black, you’re a woman, and you’re dark-skinned at that. So you have to be a triple/quadruple threat…You gotta learn how to act,” Washington said. 

So, Washington can concede that being a dark-skinned woman in Hollywood can hinder success, but he can’t concede that the whole “you have to work twice as hard as a white person” rule is unfair? Disappointing. 

 

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Ariana Grande Sums Up The Problem With Slut-Shaming In 4 Spot-On Tweets

Ariana Grande does not mince words when it comes to her opinions on slut-shaming. 

On Wednesday, the 23-year-old pop star tweeted about a creepy encounter with a stranger while  and her boyfriend, rapper Mac Miller, were eating. The male fan followed Grande and Miller and began praising Miller’s work when he added: “Ariana is sexy as hell man I see you, I see you hitting that!!!”

Grande posted a note to Twitter detailing the encounter and her distraught reaction to this strange man catcalling her.  “Hitting that? the fuck?? This may not seem like a big deal to some of you but I felt sick and objectified,” she wrote on. “…Things like that happen all the time and are the kinds of moments that contribute to women’s sense of fear and inadequacy.” 

Two days later, Grande took to Twitter again to respond to some critics who blamed her for getting catcalled because she’s “so sexual” in her music videos.  

“Expressing sexuality in art is not an invitation for disrespect !!! just like wearing a short skirt is not asking for assault,” Grande tweeted, adding that a woman’s clothing, music or personality is “not an open invitation” to men, ever. 

Read Grande’s full thoughts from Twitter below. 

seeing a lot of "but look how you portray yourself in videos and in your music! you're so sexual!" …. please hold.. next tweet… i repeat

— Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrande) December 28, 2016

expressing sexuality in art is not an invitation for disrespect !!! just like wearing a short skirt is not asking for assault.

— Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrande) December 28, 2016

Women's choice. ♡ our bodies, our clothing, our music, our personalities….. sexy, flirty, fun.
it is not. an open. invitation.

— Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrande) December 28, 2016

You are literally saying that if we look a certain way, we are yours to take. But we are not !!! It's our right to express ourselves. ♡

— Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrande) December 28, 2016

You do you, Ariana. 

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On Balance, 2016 Was A Pretty Garbage Year For Mental Health

This year was pretty terrible in a lot of ways. And, sadly, the attitudes surrounding mental health were no exception.

The last 52 weeks brought a lot of disappointing instances of stigma and discrimination, from presidential candidates slinging mental health terms as insults to the media wrongly associating mental illness with violence. These public affronts can be remarkably damaging on the whole. Research shows people with psychological health issues often don’t seek professional help due to fear of judgment or shame

What’s more, unprecedented anxiety due to current events also meant that mental health itself was at risk for many. A report conducted by the American Psychological Association found that the majority of Americans said they felt that the 2016 election was somewhat or a significant source of stress. And acts of terror like the mass shooting at an LGBTQ club in Orlando had the potential to result in instances of vicarious trauma and psychological health issues.

Fortunately, there were also a few shining examples of progress to balance out the terrible ones. More celebrities spoke out about their own experience with mental illness and TV shows poignantly tackled mental health conditions.

We rounded up some of the most prominent mental health events of 2016. Below are just a few of the good, the bad and the ugly ways this year made a mark:

Mental health issues were used as insults.

Candidates during the 2016 election turned to mental health as a way of firing at their opponents.

During a democratic primary debate, Sen. Bernie Sanders joked, “When you watch these Republican debates, you know why we need to invest a lot in mental health.” And now president-elect Donald Trump often used mental illness terminology as pejorative insults toward his critics:

Just heard that crazy and very dumb @morningmika had a mental breakdown while talking about me on the low ratings @Morning_Joe. Joe a mess!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 2, 2016

Experts stress that the words we use matter. Throwing around phrases like “mental breakdown” and “crazy” only further alienate those dealing with a mental health disorder.

They’re still seen as weaknesses.

Back in November, the president-elect gave credence to the false stereotype that veterans who experience post-traumatic stress disorder do so because they’re not strong enough.

“They see things that maybe a lot of the folks in this room have seen many times over and you’re strong and you can handle it, but a lot of people can’t handle it,” he said at a veterans’ rally.

And Trump wasn’t the only one who classified a mental health disorder this way. House Speaker Paul Ryan tweeted back in March that he would be giving up “character deficiencies” like anxiety for Lent, the Christian season around Easter where people sacrifice certain luxuries from their lives as a form of penitence for 40 days. Psychological health issues are often seen as “flaws,” which contributes to the stigma surrounding it.

Public figures delegitimized mental illness in the media.

Recently, former CNN personality Piers Morgan got into a heated Twitter exchange with singer Lady Gaga, who recently revealed she suffers from PTSD. Morgan accused Gaga of creating her diagnosis “for attention” and asserted that only people in the military can have PTSD.

I come from a big military family.
It angers me when celebrities start claiming 'PTSD' about everything to promote themselves. https://t.co/IeSiGQkOjb

— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) December 10, 2016

Morgan is not only wrong about PTSD being just a military issue (the condition can also develop as a result of experiences with sexual assault or violence, for example), his judgmental statements are damaging when it comes to stigma. People with mental health conditions often stay silent for fear of being shamed, which can prevent them from seeking professional help.

The best mental health candidate lost the election.

Hillary Clinton wasn’t just poised to be the first woman president ― she was arguably going to be one of the best leaders for mental health the White House had seen in years.

During the final months of the election, Clinton released a comprehensive mental health plan that tackled stigma in a powerful way. Not only would it have required insurance companies to provide better coverage for mental health conditions, in an effort to make treatment more accessible. The campaign also hoped to instill a message in young people that mental health is important.

“The next generation must grow up knowing that mental health is a key component of overall health and there is no shame, stigma or barriers to seeking out care,” Clinton’s team said in a statement.

The Trump administration has yet to release a plan that solely addresses mental health.

And the entertainment world lost a mental health icon.

Actress Carrie Fisher, who was a fierce mental health advocate, died in December at the age of 60.

Fisher bravely discussed her experience with bipolar disorder and addiction in the media for decades ― something that was essentially unheard of in Hollywood at the time she began. She shattered stigma by owning her mental health issues and encouraged others to do the same.

The media disproportionately associated mental illness with violence.

A Johns Hopkins University study published in June found that more than one third of news stories about mental illness associated it with violent behavior. This figure does not reflect the actual rates of interpersonal violence where mental illness is involved, according to the study’s authors. In fact, data shows only 3 to 5 percent of violent acts are committed by those with a serious mental illness.

This is especially problematic when it comes to eliminating stigma. Many people falsely believe that mental health issues lead to violence, when more often than not, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Research shows people with mental health issues are more likely to be victims of a violent crime.

But, it’s not all bad news. Here are a few ways our culture worked to dismantle the negative attitudes surrounding psychological health:

TV shows beautifully exposed the reality of mental illness.

More and more shows are tackling the complicated nuances of mental health ― and are doing so phenomenally.

Take, for example, the FXX show “You’re The Worst,” which is billed as an anti-romantic comedy. In one particularly poignant episode this year, the plot focused on character Edgar Quintero, a war veteran dealing with PTSD.

The storyline perfectly captured the harsh realities those with the condition face, from encountering triggers of war memories in the grocery store to experiencing insomnia. The show’s honest account of what individuals with mental illness deal with on a regular basis is a welcome portrayal in mainstream culture.

More celebrities advocated for mental health acceptance.

Public advocacy is critical when it comes to eliminating mental health misconceptions, according to experts. And fortunately 2016 saw its fair share of positive messaging from celebrities.

Public figures from Amanda Seyfried and Zayn Malik to Kate Middleton and Michelle Obama all worked to erase the negative attitudes around mental health, whether it was being open about their medication or challenging the notion that mental illness is something shameful.

The stigma around talking about mental health and getting help for it just doesn’t make any sense,” Obama told Prevention magazine in October. “This is an issue that affects us all.”

Now that’s how you talk about psychological well-being. Can we see more of this next year?

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18 Tweets That Accurately Describe Being Single On New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve is complicated for singles: Sure, you might hit it off with someone at a pal’s party ― but you’re just as likely to end up as the designated photographer for all the couples there. (Don’t forget photo credit on that Insta pic, guys.) 

Below, 18 relatable tweets from people who know all about the struggles of being single on New Year’s Eve.

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Argentina Reopens Case Accusing Ex-President Of Bombing Cover Up

BUENOS AIRES, Dec 29 (Reuters) – An Argentine appeals court on Thursday revived a case accusing former President Christina Fernandez of trying to cover up Iran’s alleged role in the bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish center in 1994.

The prosecutor who first brought the allegation, Alberto Nisman, died mysteriously in January 2015, and a judge later threw the case out for lack of evidence. But that ruling was revoked on Thursday, opening Fernandez to prosecution.

“The evidence does not allow for a clear dismissal of the possible commission of illicit acts,” the country’s official CIJ Judicial Information Center said in a statement. “The accusations must be weighed in advance of dismissal.”

Argentine courts have accused Iran of sponsoring the attack, which killed 85 people at the AMIA Jewish community center.

Nisman was found in his home shot through the head days after accusing Fernandez of trying to derail the bombing investigation as part of a plan to close the country’s energy gap by trading Argentine grains for Iranian oil.

She dismisses the charge as absurd.

Nisman’s death was initially classified as a suicide, but an official investigating the case said early this year that the evidence pointed to homicide.

The hard-charging prosecutor was just hours away from a scheduled appearance in Congress to brief lawmakers on his accusations against Fernandez when his body was found on the floor of his apartment, a 22-caliber pistol by his side.

Iran has repeatedly denied any link to the bombing, and an Argentine judge in February 2015 dismissed Nisman’s accusations as baseless. A review panel later agreed by a 2-1 vote, finding insufficient evidence to formally investigate Fernandez.

She has faced several criminal charges since leaving office a year ago. She was indicted this week on charges arising from allegations she and top officials from her administration skimmed money intended for public works projects.

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