Veep steers away from politics

in BYU commencement speech

PROVO, Utah - Vice President Dick Cheney told Brigham Young University graduates yesterday to savor second chances and be prepared for the unexpected, in a commencement address that stirred up protests in one of the nation's most Republican states. "Don't give up or let your doubts get the best of you," Cheney said. "For all the plans we make in life, sometimes life has other plans for us."

On a campus where dissent is unusual, about 100 people protested quietly, holding signs reading: "Mormon for peace" and "Make soup, not war."

Utah voters have supported the administration, delivering President Bush his largest margins of victory in any state in 2000 and '04. But the war in Iraq has weakened support for the White House. Cheney critics at BYU have cited his role in promoting faulty intelligence and his involvement in the CIA leak scandal.

Cheney's 14-minute address to more than 6,200 graduates didn't touch on any political topics. He thanked the ROTC members for their service and said they would be joining a military that is "a great force for justice, freedom and security."

Dean should have practiced

what she preached on ethics

To stressed-out parents and students, MIT admissions dean Marilee Jones was a rare voice of reason. With colleges demanding kids who play sports, run student government and take the heaviest course load, Jones shouted back the opposite: don't worry so much about building a resumé just to impress an elite college.

Yet it turns out that Jones was susceptible to pressure herself. She falsely bolstered her credentials to get her job. MIT officials say now they have no evidence she graduated from college at all.

The school announced yesterday that Jones, co-author of "Less Stress, More Success: A New Approach to Guiding Your Teen Through College Admissions and Beyond," had resigned after acknowledging she had misrepresented her education when she started working at the university 28 years ago, and declined to correct multiple incorrect claims since then.

Ohio man found guilty of killing

youth who walked on his lawn

BATAVIA, Ohio - A jury yesterday convicted a man of murder for shooting a teenage neighbor who walked on his obsessively maintained lawn. The jury deliberated less than four hours before finding Charles Martin, 67, guilty.

The defense didn't dispute that Martin shot 15-year-old Larry Mugrage Jr. after he stepped on the lawn Martin meticulously cared for, mowing it as many as five times a week. But defense attorney R. Scott Croswell III said Martin had been harassed for years by Mugrage and other youths who insulted Martin and ignored his pleas to stay off the lawn.

Martin faces 15 years to life in prison when he is sentenced May 23. He remains in jail on $2 million bond.

Prisoner freed to give son kidney

skips to Mexico with girlfriend

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - A federal prisoner who fled the country after he was temporarily freed to try to donate a kidney to his ailing son was due in court yesterday after being arrested in Mexico with his girlfriend, authorities said.

Byron Keith Perkins and Lea Ann Howard were arrested Wednesday in Puerto Vallarta and were being flown to Los Angeles for the court hearing. Perkins had been released on $10,000 bond in January 2006 but failed to show up for the compatibility tests to see whether he could donate the kidney his son Destin.

Destin, now 17, eventually received a kidney from an anonymous donor. He told CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360" that he was doing fine but wasn't sure he could forgive his father. *

- Daily News wire services