By Lefteris Papadimas and Renee Maltezou ATHENS (Reuters) - Leftist Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras threw down an open challenge to international creditors on Wednesday by halting privatisation plans agreed under the country's bailout deal, prompting a third day of heavy losses on financial markets. A swift series of announcements signalled the newly installed government would stand by its anti-austerity pledges, setting it on a collision course with European partners, led by Germany, which has said it will not renegotiate the aid package needed to help Greece pay its huge debts. Tsipras, who was congratulated by U.S. President Barack Obama in a phone call for his decisive election victory on Sunday, told the first meeting of his cabinet members that they could not afford to disappoint voters battered by a plunge in living standards under austerity. After announcing a halt to the privatisation of the port of Piraeus on Tuesday, for which China's Cosco Group [COSCO.UL] and four others had been short-listed, the government indicated it would put the whole programme on hold.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California health officials on Wednesday declared electronic cigarettes a health threat that should be strictly regulated like tobacco products, joining other states and health advocates across the U.S. in seeking tighter controls as "vaping" grows in popularity.