(Visited 109 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0 Are Moses and Jesus corroborated by extra-Biblical artifacts? Here’s the good and the bad about two interesting yet controversial finds.Was Ancient Hebrew the First Language?An article on Science News, accompanied by a photo of a rock with scratch marks, is titled “Oldest alphabet identified as Hebrew.” Bruce Bower’s sub-headline states, “Controversial claim argues that ancient Israelites turned Egyptian hieroglyphics into letters.” Further down, a diagram shows the markings transliterated from one of several slabs. The “stone slabs” were found “at several Egyptian sites” not specified, and are thought to be 3,800 years old, putting them into the time of the Hebrew sojourn in Egypt before the Exodus.The meaning of the letters depends on the work of one Douglas Petrovich:Israelites living in Egypt transformed that civilization’s hieroglyphics into Hebrew 1.0 more than 3,800 years ago, at a time when the Old Testament describes Jews living in Egypt, says archaeologist and epigrapher Douglas Petrovich of Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Canada. Hebrew speakers seeking a way to communicate in writing with other Egyptian Jews simplified the pharaohs’ complex hieroglyphic writing system into 22 alphabetic letters, Petrovich proposed on November 17 at the annual meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research.The abstract of Dr. Petrovich’s upcoming paper begins on page 105 of the ASOR November 16, 2016 Paper Abstracts. Bower’s summary includes some eye-catching possibilities from Petrovich’s translation of the squiggles. Once he figured out the script, he found some Biblical names:Several biblical figures turn up in the translated inscriptions, including Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his half-brothers and then became a powerful political figure in Egypt, Joseph’s wife Asenath and Joseph’s son Manasseh, a leading figure in a turquoise-mining business that involved yearly trips to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Moses, who led the Israelites out of Egypt, is also mentioned, Petrovich says.In the comments after the article, Petrovich interacts with some critics, providing more detail and some corrections to Bower’s write-up. Petrovich is working on a book about his thesis. Other scholars are apparently taking this work seriously. The ID site Uncommon Descent mentions this article with interest. One commenter there thinks, “If this stuff holds up, it will be the final nail in the coffin for the longstanding JEDP style hypothesis.” The JEDP hypothesis (also called the documentary hypothesis) contended that Moses was not the author of the Pentateuch, but that different parts were written at different times and then stitched together by redactors. Perpetrated under the evolutionary assumption Moses could not have written such sophisticated material so long ago, the JEDP hypothesis has come under fire increasingly over the last century, now that earlier sophisticated writings have been found from other cultures.Are the Lead Codices the Work of Early Christians?A set of 70 codices made of lead plates bound together like notebooks, found in a Jordanian cave in 2008, has a checkered history of interpretation. They caused a media flap in 2011 with claims they contained the first image of the face of Jesus. Now, the UK’s Daily Mail claims the tablets contain interpretations of Jesus’ ministry that run contrary to the New Testament:The tablets suggest that Christ was not starting his own religion, but restoring a thousand-year-old tradition from the time of King David. They also suggest the God he worshipped was both male and female.Todd Bolen of Bible Places Blog, a Bible scholar and professor who lived in Israel many years, is our go-to guy for evaluating sensationalist claims. On March 11, 2011, he gave his first impressions of the codices, leaving room for the possibility they were authentic, because they didn’t seem like the kind of artifact a forger would make. He took great issue, however, with the leading promoter of the codices, a certain David Elkington, who Bolen feels has no credibility as a scholar and appears highly motivated to make money off the tablets. The artifacts themselves, additionally, have doubtful archaeological provenance, Bolen thought, because they were not found by archaeologists in situ, but had been shuffled between questionable characters in Jordan, including thieves.On April 4, 2011, Bolen followed up with additional evidence of forgery. He also poured cold water on the sensational write-ups coming from the Daily Mail and The Telegraph, adding more cold water in his April 11, 2011 blog entry that criticized the yellow journalism resulting from Elkington’s questionable claims. He was glad in his April 26, 2011 blog entry that the codices were seized by Jordanian police, saying, “This should allow a more thorough and honest investigation than has been done to this point.” By May 17, 2011, he joined in Thomas S. Verenna‘s condemnation of irresponsible journalists covering the story. Yet Bolen did not dismiss the artifacts themselves. “It is not clear if these items are authentic or forged,” he said in the March 11 entry. “….Personally I am inclined to believe that this find is genuine.” He based that partly on analysis of the inscriptions by a colleague. He took issue strongly, however, with the outlandish claim that they equal the Dead Sea Scrolls in significance.This is where the story gets interesting. The lead codices have resurfaced in the media with new results of dating methods that show they date back 2,000 years. Once again, the Daily Mail is at the forefront of sensationalist coverage, giving Elkington free rein to announce his ideas about what Jesus believed and taught. That’s a separate question from the date of the artifacts, which both Science World Report and Christianity Today agree look old, if the dating methods yielded correct results. From the Science World Report article:Now, to prove if the tablet is legit, the series of tests was conducted by Professor Roger Webb and Professor Chris Jeynes at the University of Surrey’s Nodus Laboratory from the Ion Beam Center. They confirmed that the tablet is compatible with a comparative sample of ancient Roman lead coming from the excavation site in Dorset.In a press statement, the experts mentioned that the tablet they tested “does not show the radioactivity arising from polonium that is typically seen in modern lead samples, indicating that the lead of the codex was smelted over one hundred years ago.”Furthermore, the crystallization analysis points out that the tablet is between the years 1800-2000 years old. The experts shared that “this provides very strong evidence that the objects are of great age, consistent with the studies of the text and designs that suggest an age of around 2000 years.”The codices, therefore, could present the earliest extra-Biblical mention of Jesus before the Tacitus inscription. The UK Mirror (another sensationalist newspaper) repeats the claims about an alternative view of Jesus, noting that the tablets also refer to Peter, James and John.Getting the dates right is an important step. Even accepting the antiquity of the objects, thereby disproving forgery, leaves enough wiggle room between the error bars to put the codices into the first, second or third centuries AD. Many questions remain about the authors of the texts, the identity of the “face” on one tablet, and the translation and interpretation of the text, which could differ from the age of the lead plates themselves. Answers need to come from more credible scholars than Elkington.Clearly, the last word is not with us on either of these finds. While interesting, we have, as Peter said, “a more sure word of prophecy” in the Scriptures themselves. How can anyone improve on the clear, cogent writings of the eyewitnesses of Jesus, like Peter, John, Paul, Mark, Jude, and close associates of the apostles, like Luke? How can one improve on five lengthy books written by Moses about contemporary events in Egypt? Those provide the supreme canon against which other sources must be measured.The secular media gets fascinated by extra-Biblical sources about Jesus and Bible characters, especially if they allegedly differ in some way from the Bible, and most especially if they present a politically-correct Jesus they can feminize or turn into a Hindu guru or non-supernatural moral teacher. The Gnostic gospels and Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code come to mind. Beware. Such claims usually rely on questionable artifacts stretched beyond what the original information can bear, sold to the gullible by hucksters seeking fame or fortune.The doctrine of inspiration (that the Bible is God’s word) includes the doctrine of preservation. The word of God does not entail secret missing portions that people needed to wait centuries later to dig up in some remote cave in Jordan or find under a hill Cumora in New York. The doctrine of inspiration includes consistency. It doesn’t allow a self-proclaimed prophet to appear six centuries late to contradict what the Lord Jesus said, or another to appear in New York with the “real” uncorrupted gospel. The doctrine of inspiration also includes the concept of perspicuity, meaning that the ordinary meaning of the text is clear. We don’t need to use the Bible like a crystal ball, looking for hidden messages or codes.We don’t re-interpret the Pentateuch based on what a rock in Egypt says. We don’t re-interpret Jesus based on what some lead tablets say. Those authors were not inspired to communicate God’s word to man. For all we know, the authors of the lead codices were members of a cult who had heard of Jesus and the disciples but made up their own ideas about them, just like Gnostics did in the second century, or like off-brand teachers do today. At best, archaeological finds confirm the historicity of the Bible and shed light on cultural and historical events of the time. These two discoveries might have value in those regards. Evaluation will require further analysis by scholars having the technical specialties in epigraphy, ancient languages and ancient customs. We share them only as developments worth watching.
23 November 2011Paying for low-value purchases in South Africa is about to get a lot faster and more efficient, with banking group Absa making its “tap-and-go” contactless payment facility available both to standalone point of sale (POS) merchants and to those using advanced or integrated point of sale till systems.In line with its soon-to-be-released prepaid offering, and the launch of several public transport initiatives, Absa is starting to gear up a merchant base to accept this form of contactless payment.The system allows for customers quickly and conveniently to pay for small purchases simply by waving their contactless card in front of a secure contactless reader at the point of sale.With no signature to check or PIN to enter, merchants can expect faster transactions, shorter lines and being able to serve more customers in less time.“There is no additional transaction fee to the retailer as these are treated as normal debit or credit card purchases,” said Absa Card’s Willie van Zyl in a statement this week.“Furthermore, it is aligned with global trends in mobile payment where, in future, consumers will be able to tap their mobile phones against these readers to pay for their low value payments.”Ideal for high volume businessesThe contactless payment solution is ideal for merchant outlets with high volumes of customers where speed of service is essential – in particular, fast food outlets, coffee shops, movie theatres, convenience stores, fuel forecourts, pharmacies and parking lots.Absa has imposed certain limits on this contactless payment which are aligned with the special exemption to control and manage these cards.Tap-and-go transactions are limited to R200 per transaction and users will be able to load a maximum of R1 500 on the card at any time. The total monthly value load limitation is R3 000 per month.“We are pioneering this new way to pay as part of making payments simpler for consumers, thereby making their lives easier,” said Van Zyl. “We have a roadmap of innovations that will change the way consumers purchase, hear about offers, redeem vouchers and coupons as well as make payments.”Absa is also offering incentives to merchants to ease the cost-burden of the reader prior to the cards reaching critical mass.SAinfo reporterWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo material
Road transport is an important ingredient for economic growth in Africa and completing and maintaining the Trans Africa Highway will go a long way toward helping Africa build. (Image: Göran Höglund)• Adama DeenRegional Integration and InfrastructureNEPADAdamaD@nepad.org• South Africa’s competitive advantage in the developing world • Infrastructure to build long-term regional prosperity • Infrastructure to lift South Africa’s growth speed limit • R44bn for Ethiopia’s infrastructure • Transport investment a must Sulaiman PhilipThere is an old joke they tell in Democratic Republic of Congo: Mobutu Sese Seko, the strongman who ruled the country with an iron fist for three decades, receives a phone call from a fellow African leader. He is under rebel attack and needs advice.”Did they come by sea?” Mobutu asks.”No,” the younger ruler replies.”Did they come by air?” Mobutu asks.”No, they came by road,” his protégé answers.”Tsk tsk, my son, I always told you,” Mobutu says. ”Never build roads.”Transport infrastructure matters. It costs an African farmer about $2 a ton per kilometre to move produce to market. This cost – it’s about half that in North and South America – has restricted farming to within six hours of a major city. Today, according to the World Bank, just 34% of Africa’s rural population lives within two kilometres of an all-season road. This lack of access to infrastructure has restricted trade between African countries to just 12% of total trade; in comparison, trade between neighbours in North America – Mexico, the US and Canada – accounts for 40% of all their trade.The African Union’s Intergovernmental Agreement on the Trans-African Highway Network sets minimum standards for development and maintenance of 57 233 kilometres of road that make up the Trans-Africa Highway today. Designed to connect capitals to centres of production, and connect Africa, it is hoped a well-maintained and fully realised highway will integrate economies and improve social cohesion between African communities.The Trans-Africa Highway was meant to increase trade through built and maintained infrastructure and more harmonious customs procedures. A fully developed, continent-wide road system would aid African food security and lower the cost of feeding a family. Without it, in Africa it costs between 50% and 175% more to transport goods from the site of production than anywhere else in the world.As African economic growth – and the resulting improvements in living standards – has outstripped developed countries, the shortage of infrastructure threatens to put a brake on development. As originally imagined, the Trans-Africa Highway was an impressive web of freeways that would link ports to cities to the hinterlands. It would carry billions of dollars of goods to markets and build self-sufficient continental economies.But Africa’s road network lags behind the global average of 7.6 kilometres per 1 000 people. It is anticipated that the harmonisation agreement and other programmes – such as Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (Pida) run by agencies like New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad) – will help increase the density from the present 3.6 kilometres per 1 000 people.When foreign companies calculate the price of doing business on the continent, they look at figures such as the cost of transportation, and decide to go somewhere else. And transport delays caused by infrastructure limitations cut productivity in Africa by as much as 40%.Improved roads in north and west Africa, and large-scale road building programmes in the Southern African Development Community and East African Community have gone a long way towards connecting and integrating Africa. The largest challenge remains in central Africa, where difficult geography and a lack of road infrastructure have made improvements challenging. The biggest challenge to the completion of the highway is the diversity of terrain, from deserts in the north to dense vegetation in central Africa. (Image: stopmangohome/Flickr)Now, an $8-billion investment through the African Development Bank is driving the goal of a fully connected continent. This investment was made easier by a philosophical change among governments. Africa has come to realise that viable transport infrastructure is connected to the economic, technological and social renaissance of Africa. As Nepad’s Adama Deen explained to a planning conference in 2013, “every country and every region has had its own master plan and priorities, now we can all come together as Africa to have one priority for the continent. By 2030, we will have developed a completely holistic African infrastructure system. If we fail, integration in Africa is impossible.”Africa’s economy is evolving but agriculture, mining and tourism remain the mainstays and they are all dependent on crumbling roads. Economist Jeffrey Sachs has argued that developmental aid to Africa would be better spent on building highways suited to carrying truck cargo than on almost anything else.In 1969, the Japanese government began building a four-lane highway to link Mombasa in Kenya to Lagos, Nigeria. At 7 080km, it was longer than the cross-continental highway linking Boston on the American Atlantic coast to Seattle on the Pacific, and would increase trade among six African nations.But after Idi Amin took control of Uganda and threatened his neighbours, Kenya closed its end of the highway. Today, the east-west Trans-Africa Highway turns into a muddy footpath in the jungles of eastern Congo. “No one would ever have 100 million people in the rich world along a broken down, two-lane, undivided road as we do here,” Sachs says.Dreamed up more than 40 years ago by a UN committee and still being developed by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (Uneca), the African Development Bank and the African Union, the Trans-Africa Highway is a network of envisioned highways linking Africa from north to south and east to west. As Africa threw off the shackles of colonialism, Uneca’s ambitious plan was to link Tripoli to Windhoek, Lobito in Angola to Beira in Mozambique. Another planned highway would link Khartoum to Gaborone. None of Uneca’s original plans included routes into South Africa, at the time a pariah state.Like Cecil John Rhodes’ colonial dream of a path of red from Cape Town to Cairo, the Trans-Africa Highway network would make it easier to cover the vastness of Africa, and open the continent to internal and international trade. Spread across nine highways, it is an arterial network of tar, steel and ferries that, if ever completed, will comprise more than 56 000 kilometres of maintained corridors that will allow African farmers and miners to get their product to markets or to ports.For the dreamers who imagined it and the Africans building it, the highway is designed to alleviate the poverty affecting large parts of the continent. By linking every African country it was hoped that the continent will become an integrated bloc, but four decades later that aim remains unfulfilled and construction on large sections stalled. As it stands, there are 10 400 kilometres of rail and 7 000 kilometres of the road corridor missing, and it will cost $32-billion to complete these links. The highway consists of 9 different corridors that are designed to give every African country access to markets and ports. (Image: UNECA)The International Committee of the Red Cross’s distribution hub for eastern Africa is just off the Mombasa highway in Nairobi. It costs the aid organisation $2.88 per 1.6 kilometres to ship aid to the most desperately in-need communities. “The roads are in a desperate state and they are not getting any better,” explains Bent Korsgaard, Red Cross logistics director for the region.African governments have had to balance the use of scarce resources between immediate needs and the maintenance of infrastructure. Roads have fallen down the list of priorities. Yet in the last decade, African governments, the African Union and the African Development Bank have changed their view. Roads –and other linked transport infrastructure – have become a priority. Infrastructure projects are now seen as the best way to improve Africa’s trade with itself and the rest of the world.At present, 40% of Africa’s population lives with two kilometres of a tarred, all-weather road; doubling that access would cost about $32-billion. But spending the money would improve economies and improve food security for Africa’s one billion people. Some governments have begun to prioritise rural road investment based on the agricultural value of land. Instead of investing immediately in building the 1.5 million kilometres of highway needed, an immediate improvement in prospects can be gained by building a network of 600 000 kilometres in rural agricultural areas. Maintaining existing roads is the challenge for governments. In Africa 80% of paved roads remain in fair condition, and 85% of rural feeder roads are in a poor condition. (Image: Jbdodane/Flickr)Since its inception in 2001, the Association of Southern African Roads Agencies (Asanra) has been responsible for planning, maintaining and developing road networks in the Southern African Development Community. Group programme officer Snowden M’madi explains: “Road transport is an important ingredient for economic growth, and this will be achieved in Africa through the Trans-Africa Highway.”For South Africans, especially residents of Gauteng, there is a stretch of the highway that has become a burr in their shoe. Ultimately, it will be a part of a 560km long stretch of the Trans-Africa Highway, but for now the tolled road between Johannesburg and Pretoria has become a source of friction between motorists – who feel they are overpaying for the road – and the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral), which views it as a vital economic artery.It is one of 18 integrated projects – to improve infrastructure and water delivery – identified by the national government that is hoped will change the economic landscape of not just Gauteng but the whole country. Improved service delivery is also a major benefit that improved transport links will bring to South Africans.Sanral’s Nazir Ali pointed out at a CSIR conference as far back as 2012 that the government saw it as important to maintain and improve road infrastructure to unlock the economic power lying dormant in South Africa. “There is no country in the world where [the] government is not involved in any developmental activities. Allowing these assets to deteriorate would be a cost our economy, as well as cost us as individuals.”
NEXT BLOCK ASIA 2.0 introduces GURUS AWARDS to recognize and reward industry influencers 2 ‘newbie’ drug pushers fall in Lucena sting The elimination in the Copa quarterfinals was the latest setback for Madrid in what has been a disappointing season.It is fourth in the Spanish league, trailing leader Barcelona by 19 points with a game in hand, and its only realistic chance of a title the rest of the season will be in the Champions League, where it faces Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSLillard, Anthony lead Blazers over ThunderSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutThe Bernabeu crowd loudly jeered Madrid after the loss, with Zidane among those criticized the most after fielding second-stringers despite the big gap to Barcelona in La Liga.“We clearly failed,” Zidane said. “And I’m the one responsible for it.” Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles00:59Sports venues to be ready in time for SEA Games01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City Alaves forward Ruben Sobrino, who scored in both matches, missed the decisive penalty by sending the ball over the crossbar at Mendizorroza Stadium.Rodrigo, Santi Mina and Jose Luis Gaya all converted from the spot for the visitors, with their only miss coming from midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia after a save by goalkeeper Antonio Sivera. Alaves’ goals in the shootout were scored by Tomas Pina and Munir El Haddadi.El Haddadi put Alaves in front with a header into the top corner after a long cross by Rodrigo Ely in the 73rd, and Santi Mina equalized in a breakaway four minutes later after a making a run from near the halfway line.Sobrino netted the winner from close range following a free kick into the area. Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Slow and steady hope for near-extinct Bangladesh tortoises Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Leganes’ players celebrate their victory against Real Madrid at the end of the Spanish Copa del Rey quarterfinal second leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Leganes at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018. Leganes won 2-1. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)MADRID — Real Madrid followed its biggest win of the season with its most embarrassing defeat on Wednesday, and the pressure is back on for coach Zinedine Zidane and his players.After routing Deportivo La Coruna 7-1 to give fans a glimmer of hope after a series of poor results, Madrid crashed out of the Copa del Rey with a shock 2-1 loss to Leganes at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.ADVERTISEMENT San Miguel Beer still unscathed; Meralco defense junks KIA LATEST STORIES Playing without Cristiano Ronaldo and other regular starters, Madrid was unable to defend its 1-0 win from the first leg, being eliminated on away goals after a 2-2 draw on aggregate.“We were not supposed to be eliminated like this after having won the first leg,” said Zidane, calling the defeat the worst moment of his coaching career with Madrid. “I’m upset. It’s a big disappointment. I know it’s a difficult night for the fans.”It’s the second consecutive year Madrid has been eliminated in the Copa quarterfinals, having lost to Celta Vigo last season.Leganes, based just south of Madrid, was playing in the last eight of the Copa for the first time in the team’s 89-year history.“The key was that we believed we could achieve this, even after the loss last week,” Leganes coach Asier Garitano said. “We played a great match and everything went well.”ADVERTISEMENT The visitors provided the bigger threat at the Bernabeu, opening the scoring with Javi Eraso’s curling shot into the top corner of the net. Eraso picked up the loose ball just outside the area after a bad exchange of passes between Madrid defenders Achraf Hakimi and Nacho Fernandez. Hakimi’s pass was too short and Fernandez couldn’t control the ball under pressure from Eraso.After being jeered at halftime, Madrid came back strongly after the break, with Karim Benzema scoring early with a close-range shot over the goalkeeper after a through ball by Lucas Vazquez. The goal ended Benzema’s six-match scoreless streak that dated back to November.However, Leganes stunned the home crowd again less than 10 minutes later, when Gabriel Pires scored with a header from a corner taken by Eraso.Benzema nearly scored an equalizer that would have allowed Madrid to advance in the 81st, but his shot from inside the area was saved by goalkeeper Nereo Champagne. The goalkeeper also stopped Sergio Ramos from scoring with a header in the 85th.Madrid, which won the Spanish Super Cup and the Club World Cup earlier this season, endured a three-match winless streak at home before trouncing Deportivo in Sunday’s league match.On Tuesday, Sevilla advanced to the semifinals after eliminating Atletico Madrid 5-2 on aggregate. Three-time defending champion Barcelona hosts city rival Espanyol on Thursday to try to overcome a 1-0 first-leg loss.WIN ON PENALTIESTwo penalty saves by goalkeeper Jaume Domenech helped Valencia defeat Alaves 3-2 in a shootout.A 2-1 win by Alaves in regulation time of the second leg evened the series at 3-3 on aggregate. Domenech then stopped shots by Alfonso Pedraza and forward Hernan Perez to send Valencia through to the last four for the second time in three seasons. 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Maruti S-CrossIndia’s largest car maker Maruti has never really tasted phenomenal success with its Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs). Neither the Grand Vitara nor the Gypsy have been able to set the sales chart on fire. In order to capitalise on the SUV segment, Maruti plans to launch two new products by 2016, which includes the highly anticipated XA Alpha.Seen at the 2014 Delhi Auto Expo, the XA Alpha Concept is a futuristic compact SUV, expected to be launched sometime this year. The Maruti SX4 S-Cross is a crossover SUV, which should be launched before the XA Alpha. Testing of the S-Cross has already started in the country and at present, it is on offer in global markets. In its segment, this vehicle will compete against the likes of Volkswagen Cross Polo, Toyota Etios Cross and the Fiat Avventura. XA Alpha, in turn, will primarily rival the hugely successful Ford EcoSport. At the recent Tata Zest launch, it was revealed that Tata Motors also plans to bring in a new compact SUV called Nexon. In addition, Maruti will also be closely monitoring Renault Duster AWD to understand the demand for a 4?4 SUV.