How to make a .jpg background transparent?

Windows XP; using Photoshop Elements 2.0 :  is it possible to edit a .jpg so that the background (white, in this instance) can be transparent so that when I copy the part of the graphic I want and paste it elsewhere (another layer in Photoshop or Illustrator) that the white background disappears and doesn't block out the layer underneath?  Thanks.

You can also copy the picture,  including the white, to the destination picture. The new picture will be on a separate layer. On that layer delete the white portion which will be replaced by transparency. Depending on the particular case you can select the white and delete it; or select the subject, invert the selection and delete it.

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