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"We're back," the Spice Girls proclaimed loudly as they reunited in Manchester, England, last Saturday night for the start of a new concert tour - their first in more than a year. The conclusion of respondents to a poll conducted by Smash Hits magazine: So what? The survey cited the group as the worst of the year in Britain. It was a dramatic turnaround. Before some members drifted off into individual pursuits in 1998, they were voted No. 1 in the category.

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But in another survey, Britons appear to think far more kindly about the enduring qualities of fellow pop-music icon Cliff Richard. The veteran singer was ranked the world's best-known Christian by a majority of 3,600 people across England as they shopped for Christmas gifts. Richard, who was knighted in 1995, outpointed Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey. Prince Charles finished third; Queen Elizabeth II was fifth. Pope John Paul II came in seventh, one place ahead of US evangelist Billy Graham.

Ten communities win annual All-American City Awards

The National Civic League honored 10 communities this week at its 50th annual All-American City Awards ceremony at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House grounds. Christopher Gates, president of the private, Denver-based organization, said the award went to communities that recognized the challenges they were facing and worked with nongovernmental and grass-roots groups to overcome them. The 10 winning communities, chosen from among 30 finalists:

Stockton, Calif.

Union City, Calif..

Tallahassee, Fla..

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Wichita, Kan..

Shreveport, La..

Lowell, Mass..

Tupelo, Miss..

Rocky Mount, N.C..

Bristol, Va./Tenn., Johnson City. and Kingsport, Tenn.,.

tri-city area.

Greater Green Bay, Wis.

- Associated Press

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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