WASHINGTON, Nov. 21 (UPI) -- Sen. Jon Kyl countered Democratic criticism he blocked efforts to reach a deficit-cutting deal as the supercommittee was ready to admit failure Monday.
In a spate of morning appearances, Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction member Kyl, R-Ariz., who is not seeking re-election, said he was "dedicated to trying to find a solution" and Republicans were the ones who had made a "breakthrough" offer that might have helped the committee reach a deal, The Hill reported.
Kyl disputed an article in The New York Times that had Democrats characterizing him as "the main obstacle to an agreement."
Kyl said the sides would meet Monday but he doubted a last-minute compromise would be reached.
"I wouldn't be optimistic, I don't want to bring you false hope here. The point is that we're still talking," Kyl said.
He added that he expected the committee's co-chairs to issue a statement with news about whether a deal had been reached.
Budget cuts triggered if the congressional supercommittee fails in its mission must be altered to spare the Pentagon, GOP lawmakers said.
Death toll rises in Egyptian violence
CAIRO, Nov. 21 (UPI) -- Clashes between protesters and security forces killed at least 23 people and injured more than 1,500 in Egypt, the Health Ministry said Monday.
A ministry statement said deaths were reported in Cairo's Tahrir Square, Alexandria and Suez, the Egyptian Gazette reported.
Egyptian troops, seen as heroes by the Egyptian people when President Hosni Mubarak was ousted Feb. 11, led a new push to clear Tahrir Square, The New York Times reported.
At midday, thousands of protesters remained in control of the square and its side streets, the Times reported.
Gunshots and tear gas were reported near the Interior Ministry in Cairo, Britain's Guardian said.
A makeshift hospital was set up in Tahrir Square.
An attempt to reach a cease-fire between protesters and authorities collapsed, the report said.
A week before parliamentary elections to start the process of transition to a civilian government, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which took over Egyptian rule after President Hosni Mubarak was ousted Feb. 11, expressed "sorrow" Sunday on its Facebook page for the violence. It said it ordered an investigation and asked the political parties to "contain the situation."
Former FBI head in Penn State probe
MILL HALL, Pa., Nov. 21 (UPI) -- Former FBI director Louis Freeh will serve as special counsel in the Penn State University investigation of child sex abuse allegations, the university said.
Penn State trustee and Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier, chairman of committee trying to learn what campus leaders knew about child sex abuse allegations against former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, said it would conduct a comprehensive and unbiased investigation, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
"No one is above scrutiny," Frazier said.
Freeh, who has also been a federal judge, said he will personally lead a team of former FBI agents and federal prosecutors with experience in child sex abuse cases.
"We have been asked to investigate the matter fully, fairly and completely," he said "The special investigative committee has assured us of total independence."
Penn State Football coach Joe Paterno and university President Graham Spanier, who both faced criticism for the university's apparent failure to act, have been fired in the wake of the scandal.
Meanwhile, "Victim 1" in the sex-abuse case against Sandusky has dropped out of school because of bullying, his counselor said Sunday.
U.S. fears CIA spies caught, executed
WASHINGTON, Nov. 21 (UPI) -- The United States fears many CIA operatives in Iran and Lebanon have been caught and executed, current and former U.S. officials said.
The spies were paid informants recruited by the CIA for two espionage rings targeting Iran and Hezbollah, an organization in Lebanon on the U.S. terror list and backed by Iran, ABC News reported Monday.
The CIA hasn't determined how many of its assets were compromised in Iran, but the number could be in the dozens, one current and one former U.S. intelligence official said. In Lebanon, officials said, Hezbollah picked up at least a dozen agents.
"Espionage is a risky business," a U.S. official told ABC News while confirming the loss of the spies in the last six months. "Many risks lead to wins, but some result in occasional setbacks."
Robert Baer, a former CIA officer who worked against Hezbollah in Beirut in the 1980s, said Hezbollah usually executes people caught or suspected of spying.
"If they were genuine spies, spying against Hezbollah, I don't think we'll ever see them again," he told ABC News. "These guys are very, very vicious and unforgiving."
Mariners' Greg Halman, 24, killed
ROTTERDAM, Netherlands, Nov. 21 (UPI) -- Seattle Mariners outfielder Greg Halman was stabbed to death Monday in the Netherlands, officials said. He was 24.
Halman was reportedly killed at his home in Rotterdam. Dutch news agency ABP said Jason Halman, Greg Halman's 22-year-old brother, had been arrested in the case.
Halman appeared in 44 games for the Mariners over the last two seasons. He hit .230 in 35 games in 2011 with two home runs and six runs batted in.
Halman was born Aug. 26, 1987, in Haarlem, Netherlands, and broke into the major baseball league in his native country in 2003 as a 16-year-old. His father Eddy Halman and brother Jason, like Greg Halman, played on the Dutch national baseball team.
Greg Halman was signed at Seattle as a free agent in 2004 and made his first U.S. major-league appearance in September 2010.
Notable deaths of 2014 [PHOTOS]