I have been playing around it seems that I could just call the print_course_block function and send it the right variables for the latest news block. Does this seem feasible. I know you said it is going to be hard but I think I will give it a try. Does my idea seem to work. I have not got it to.
Before I call print course block, I am calling block_load_class('news_items'); and this is working (or it doenst cause anything to crash)
Thanks for the help.