WASHINGTON — APEC may be defeating any sense of normalcy on Oahu this week, but the country’s major news outfits are paying relatively little attention to the economic conference thus far.

(Read a related article by Civil Beat columnist Richard Halloran, who took a look at the skimpy APEC coverage among member economies.)

This may have something to do with the rush of major international stories this week. Some of the news that is garnering more national attention: The economic crisis in Europe — that includes chaos in Greece, and Italy’s prime minister announcing he’ll step down.

A new U.N. report about Iran’s nuclear weapons aspirations that has been the subject of much national scrutiny. On top of it, Tuesday was election day. Major stories came out of Ohio and Mississippi for voters’ handling of collective bargaining rights and abortion rights, respectively.

Even the sports world is being rocked with news, as long-time Penn State Football Coach Joe Paterno is leaving his job in the wake of a sex scandal. And we haven’t even gotten to allegations of sexual assault against GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain yet.

That’s not to say that news of APEC is altogether absent on the national and international stage. The Wall Street Journal published an article on Tuesday suggesting that the summit is indeed being “overshadowed by ongoing fears of contagion from the European crisis.”

Several news outlets across the globe ran stories about a federal agent in Honolulu for APEC charged with fatally shooting 23-year-old Kollin Elderts in a Waikiki McDonald’s.

A Tokyo-based reporter for the Associated Press explored Japan’s attitude toward trade with the U.S. in the context of APEC in an article picked up by several news organizations on Tuesday.

Other reporters have focused on China’s criticism that the Obama administration’s APEC goals — especially those related to resolving global environmental problems — are “too ambitious.”

One China Daily columnist appeared more focused on China-Vietnam relations, and chided Western media for a tendency to “sensationalize” the details of an oil deal between the two countries ahead of APEC.

On Wednesday, the Arab News wrote about a new report that examines the cost of trade in the APEC region.

It’s reasonable to expect that national interest in APEC will pick up as the week continues, especially as President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and other world dignitaries arrive in Honolulu later this week.

White House reporters were briefed on the Obamas’ trip to Hawaii on Wednesday afternoon. In other words, for many of those outside of Hawaii, APEC hasn’t even started yet.

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