Relax, a Little

* In the colorful world of threat levels, the United States went to yellow yesterday.

The government downgraded its threat level for terrorist attacks from orange (the second-highest level) to yellow, which is right in the middle of the five-color chart. Orange represents "high" risk, while yellow means "elevated." (Okay, we find it a little confusing too, but it's going down and we figure that's good.)

Part of the reason for reducing the level is that the war in Iraq is winding down. The threat level was raised to orange on March 17, just a few days before the war started. The color-coded alert system was put into place after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and in New York.

Harry Potter's Secrets

* Ron plays Quidditch. The new teacher for defense against the dark arts has a personality "like poisoned honey." There's a venomous, disgruntled house elf.

It's not much, but those are a few more details about "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" that publisher Scholastic has let out as the June 21 publication date for the fifth Harry Potter book draws closer, but not close enough.

The details come from a catalogue about the book, Scholastic's Chris Moran says.

In the book, Ron Weasley turns from Quidditch fan to player, becoming keeper for Hogwarts. As a sign that the books continue to take on more mature issues, the catalogue says that Harry confronts "the unreliability of government and the impotence of the authorities at Hogwarts."

And if Dark Marks, dementors and Death Eaters weren't scary enough, Harry has nightmares about a door in a silent hallway that is "more terrifying than every other nightmare combined."

More HP news just in: If you order the book from Amazon.com, it will have FedEx deliver it to you on June 21 without the usual extra charge. Of course, if you want the book at 12:01 a.m., you'll just have to camp out at a bookstore.

-- From staff and wire reports