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Elon Musk personally hires 2 Newfoundland interns who solved problems at Tesla factory

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Two young students from Newfoundland made such a good impression on Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk during a recent internship that the tech magnate personally hired them to come work for his company.

Mark Comeau and Matthew Lane both studied engineering at CNA and MUN, and landed work placements at Tesla, which makes electric vehicles, battery packs and solar panels.

N.L. interns hired by Elon Musk 8:20 

After about a month moving back and forth between the Tesla Factory in California and the company's Gigafactory 1 in Nevada, the two finally saw an opportunity to do something they weren't necessarily assigned to be involved with, but which started them down the path to working with the company.

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors Inc., left, discusses the company's Gigafactory on Tuesday, July 26, 2016. (Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press)

During the internship, Lane and Comeau saw a problem with the gating system on one of the production ramps at Gigafactory 1 and thought they might be able to do something about it.

"Essentially what happened is we saw an opportunity to solve the problem, we came up with our own idea and actually sort of crashed the meeting with Elon ourselves and presented the idea," Lane told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show.

Tesla Inc. designs and manufactures electric vehicles, charging stations, battery packs and more. (Sam Mircovich/Reuters)

Six weeks later, the two Newfoundland students' solution was brought online, and it must have impressed Musk and others at Tesla because both were asked to come back and start work on something else.

"Literally at like 10 a.m. Monday the week we finished, we got a message saying, 'Hey, head to Nevada to Gigafactory," Comeau said. "[A] five hour car drive later, we arrived in Nevada with a whole new situation and problems to address."

The Tesla Gigafactory is shown under construction outside Reno, Nevada May 9, 2015. (James Glover II/Reuters)

Tesla's Gigafactory in the Nevada desert is where the company manufactures batteries that go in Tesla vehicles. Lane and Comeau were put to work on solving a reliability issue with one of the systems they'd previously worked on.

Meeting Musk, getting hired

After they successfully solved their new problem, Musk personally approached the two students and offered them a job as professional problem solvers, helping to overcome issues at the factory.

Tesla Motors Inc. CEO Elon Musk speaks at the unveiling of the Model 3 at the Tesla Motors design studio in Hawthorne, Calif. (Justin Pritchard/Associated Press)

Comeau will start work immediately with Tesla, while Lane will finish up the summer semester at MUN before heading to the U.S. to get to work.

"Within two days we had solved this issue and got to speak to Elon himself, and this is kind of where he said, 'You guys did a good job, and you should stay,'" said Lane.

"It was probably one of the most unnerving experiences ever. Here's the CEO of a company and we're just two young interns, and he was like basically, 'Yup, you guys have to stay,'" added Comeau.

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Pipeline protesters defy eviction order, say they'll meet with officials

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Kwitsel Tatel, left, speaks to media during a press conference at Camp Cloud near the entrance of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Saturday July 21, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ben Nelms

BEN NELMS/The Canadian Press

Protesters at an anti-pipeline camp in Burnaby, B.C., say they will meet with officials to discuss safety measures, but they will not comply with a city-issued evacuation order.

The City of Burnaby says there are safety concerns surrounding “Camp Cloud,” including a two-storey wooden watch house and a fire that protesters describe as sacred and ceremonial.

Protest organizer Kwitsel Tatel says the participants will not leave, nor will they extinguish their fire.

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Tatel suggests the structures around the camp’s sacred fire could be modified, if only to refocus the attention away from the physical camp and back to the anti-pipeline protest.

She adds that snuffing out the fire would constitute a breaking of both B.C. Supreme Court and Coast Salish law.

The protesters say the city’s notice, which was issued on Wednesday and expired early Saturday, was written without adequate consideration of a recent court decision or consultation with camp residents.

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2 Uncle Ben's rice varieties recalled in eastern Canada

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Mars Food Canada is voluntarily recalling select Uncle Ben's rice products, including its Fast & Fancy Broccoli and Cheddar, and Country Chicken flavoured rice, after learning about possible salmonella contamination in the seasoning pouches in both products. The recall only affects products sold in eastern Canada.

In a statement, the company said it is conducting the recalls "out of an abundance of caution."

"We are working with a limited number of impacted retailers in eastern Canada to have the product removed from store shelves," it said.

The company said while the majority of affected products have already retrieved, customers should check any packages of rice featuring any of the lot codes listed here. It says affected products should not be consumed.

The recall comes amid a flurry of food product recalls affecting Loblaws and Ritz products. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said Saturday it is recalling Ritz bits sandwich crackers and No Name chicken nuggets for risk of salmonella contamination.

The breaded nuggets, offered at Maxi, Provigo, AXEP and Intermarché grocery stores in Quebec, were sold in boxes of 907 grams with the best before date "2019 MA 15."

The recalled Ritz crackers were sold in packs of 180 grams, 30 X 42 grams and 42 grams. The best before dates are November 2018 to March 2019. 

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Fiat Chrysler chooses Jeep exec Mike Manley to replace ailing CEO Marchionne

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Fiat Chrysler Automobile announced Saturday that CEO Sergio Marchionne's health had suddenly deteriorated following surgery and that its board of directors had chosen Jeep executive Mike Manley to replace him.

Marchionne, a 66-year-old Italian-Canadian, joined Fiat in 2004 and led the Turin-based company's merger with bankrupt U.S. carmaker Chrysler. Manley, 54, had been heading the Jeep brand since June 2009 and the Ram brand from October 2015.

The announcement, at the end of an urgently convened board meeting, marked the end of the Marchionne era, which included the turnaround of failing Fiat, the takeover of bankrupt U.S. automaker Chrysler and the spinoffs of the heavy machinery and truck maker CNH and supercar maker Ferrari.

Fiat Chrysler said in a statement that due to his deteriorating health Marchionne "will be unable to return to work."

Marchionne, 66, had already announced he would step down in early 2019, so the board's decision, to be confirmed at an upcoming shareholders' meeting, will "accelerate" the CEO transition process, the statement said.

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, left, is seen with Jeep brand President and CEO Mike Manley at the Jefferson North Assembly Plant, in Detroit. (Carlos Osorio/Associated Press)

The British-born Manley had been one of Marchionne's closest collaborators at the group, and in a previous role had been responsible for product planning and all sales activities outside of North America.

Marchionne was reported to have had surgery for a shoulder problem about three weeks ago in Switzerland.

Fiat is considered a close-knit family, and FCA chairman John Elkann said he was "profoundly saddened to learn of Sergio's state of health. It was a situation that was unthinkable until a few hours ago, and one that leaves us all with a sense of injustice."

Elkann didn't give details of Marchionne's health problems, adding that his "first thoughts go to Sergio and his family." He asked everyone to respect Marchionne's "privacy and that of all those who are dear to him."

Elkann is a grandson of the late Gianni Agnelli, the longtime Fiat dynasty chieftain.

The boards of Ferrari and CNH Industrial, which makes heavy machinery and trucks, were called urgently to meet on Saturday in Turin, Fiat's headquarters.

Ferrari announced that Louis Camilleri, an Egyptian-board Maltese and longtime executive at Philip Morris International, the tobacco company, was chosen to replace Marchionne as CEO of the sports car maker. 

A Fiat Chrysler sign is seen outside the Chrysler World Headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich., in this file photo. (Carlos Osorio/Associated Press)

Known for sleeping only briefly each night, Marchionne, who is also a lawyer, was holding multiple leadership roles in the companies, notably as CEO of FCA — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, as well as CEO and chairman of Ferrrari.

In early June, Marchionne made his last major presentation as CEO of Fiat Chrysler. On that occasion he announced there would be a major investment thrust to make more electrified cars, although traditional engines will continue to dominate production. He unveiled FCA's plans through 2022.

Brands that have been driving the company's revenues include Jeep SUVs, Ram trucks and the premium brands, Maserati and Alfa Romeo. Those brands were expected to account for 80 per cent of revenues by 2022, compared to 65 per cent currently.

The passenger-car brands of Fiat and Chrysler have been less profitable.

At the June appearance, Marchionne also predicted Fiat was about to eliminate its debt.

Next corporate results are set to be released on July 25.

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