The Pentagon has begun planning to use US troops to train Pakistani armed forces to fight antigovernment extremists, a senior American defense official said Wednesday. The plan, which seeks to keep the US in a low-profile, supportive role, awaits approval from Pakistan.

A Virginia legislative panel referred a gun-control bill supported by families of the victims of the Virginia Tech massacre to further study, a decision frustrating to supporters but hailed as a victory Wednesday by gun-rights advocates. The proposal, which would require private sellers to obtain criminal background checks on buyers at gun shows, is not likely to come up for a vote during this year's legislative session.

To sustain lower levels of sectarian violence and greater stability recently achieved in Iraq, the US may have to maintain a large troop presence in the Gulf region for years to come, experts with the nonpartisan Council on Foreign Relations told Congress Wednesday. Even then, the analysts said, Iraq was more likely to resemble volatile Kosovo and Bosnia than model modern-day democracies.

Meg Whitman, eBay's chief executive, confirmed Wednesday that she will step down March 31 after 10 years transforming the online auction site into an e-commerce giant. Whitman will remain on the board of directors of the San Jose, Calif.-based company.

Ford Motor Co. will trim an unspecified number of jobs in a new round of hourly worker buyouts, the automaker said in warning Wednesday that despite trimming its losses, more red ink is expected this year. Meanwhile, General Motors conceded that Toyota Motor Corp. basically pulled even with it for world sales supremacy last year, when each sold about 9.4 million vehicles.

In a survey of 270,000 college freshmen conducted by UCLA, 74 percent said their parents or guardians were involved the "right amount" in applying for college. The results released Thursday suggest that students aren't necessarily opposed to "helicopter parents" hovering over the process.

Two years after Rosa Parks's death, and in her first year of eligibility, the Alabama Women's Hall of Fame said Wednesday it will induct the black seamstress who helped launch the civil rights movement. She refused to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Ala., city bus in 1955.

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