has lots of new icon themes.
I think you right-click the panel (launcher?), and click something like 'configure'. In one of the tabs you will find something for the backround. It has various builtin colors like green, or you can choose your own.
There are applets for weather and news that can go in the kde panel. For fancy stuff, take a look at gkrellm and Superkaramba. You can find themes for these in kde-look.